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National Security & Defense

Peter Navarro: “Why America Needs a Stronger Defense Industry”

2 minute read

On Wednesday, President Trump will visit Lima, Ohio, to tour the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, one of America’s premier defense facilities and the last tank factory in the Western Hemisphere. The story of the day may be about how the Trump administration saved the Lima plant from a near-death experience under President Barack Obama. The story for the history books, however, is about how the factory perfectly encapsulates President Trump’s maxim “economic security is national security.”

In 2012, the Obama administration sought to close the Lima plant as part of the mandated budget sequestration process. Fortunately, the Republican-led Congress rejected that move and appropriated enough funds to keep the factory in business — but the number of employees fell sharply, to just 75.

Enter President Trump, with a far different view of the role of a strong military in both defending our homeland and revitalizing our manufacturing base. As part of his significantly increased defense budgets for 2019 and 2020, the president has requested an additional $11 billion to buy combat vehicles like the Abrams, as well as the Stryker combat vehicle, also manufactured in Lima.

In terms of economic security, the Trump defense budget is helping to create good manufacturing jobs at good wages, including in communities like Lima that have fallen behind economically. The revitalized Lima plant will directly employ a little more than 1,000 employees. And plants like the one in Lima are drivers for thousands of more jobs in the supply chain across the country.

In terms of national security, state of the art tanks like the latest versions of the Abrams are critical tools in increasing the effectiveness of American ground forces, enabling the decisive defeat of the threats outlined in our National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy.

A less obvious, but no less important, benefit comes from sharing these upgraded combat vehicle capacities with our allies and strategic partners through conventional arms sales.

The president’s bold decision to rescue the Lima plant from the Obama budget sequestration oblivion will reap this nation benefits for years to come. Both the workers and the war fighters of America will be the better for it.

Read the full op-ed here.