America will likely spend half a trillion dollars upgrading its nuclear weapons stockpile, which is now more than fifty years old and experiencing significant safety problems. Think tanks, military experts, and defense contractors are preparing for this major undertaking.
Notably absent from the discussion of how to secure the submarines, missiles, and bombers that form the U.S.’s so-called nuclear triad, however, is a major change in our defense industrial base: consolidation. Today, a single corporation, Northrop Grumman, is critical to every single leg of that triad.
Northrop Grumman builds the Air Force’s B-21 bomber, the motors that power submarine-launched missiles, and the next generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This consolidation is both costly and risky. As the Pentagon noted in its 2017 Industrial Capabilities Report, the lack of competition causes “cost increases…, decreases in internal research and development efforts, and risk of security of supply if a catastrophic accident should occur.”
On Thursday, March 4th at 2:00 p.m. ET, the American Economic Liberties Project hosted a discussion about how extreme consolidation in the national security supply chain is expensive, unsafe, untenable, and un-democratic. We heard from Mark Thompson of the Project on Government Oversight, Sara Sirota of Inside Defense, and Lucas Kunce of the American Economic Liberties Project. Elle Ekman, Economic Liberties’ new Senior National Security Fellow moderated the discussion.
Moderated by:Elle Ekman, Senior National Security Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project and author of “Here’s One Reason the U.S. Military Can’t Fix It’s Own Equipment”