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After the Cold War Living With Lower Defense Spending

After the Cold War Living With Lower Defense Spending

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 After the Cold War: Living With Lower  Defense Spending
February 1992
OTA-ITE-524NTIS order #PB92-152537
 
Recommended Citation:U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment,
 After the Cold War: Living With Lower  Defense Spending, OTA-ITE-524
(Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office,
February
1992).
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Foreword
The
great events of 
1991
ended the Cold War, banished the threat of global nuclearconflict, and freed us to redefine national security. While future U.S. defense needs are stillunclear, they will surely require less money and fewer people, as well as shifting in kind. Itis now safe to contemplate very substantial reductions in defense spending-perhaps to thelowest level in 40 years—and to turn our attention to other pressing national needs.Welcome as these changes are, adjustment to lower defense spending is not painless.Many of the workers and communities that depend for their livelihood on the military willhave to find new jobs and new sources of economic strength. Defense companies will haveto adapt to commercial demands, or shrink, or possibly go under. On the bright side, the sizeof the adjustment is modest, compared to defense build-downs of the past and to the present
size of the U.S. economy. From 1991 to 2001, perhaps as many as 2.5 million defense-related
 jobs will disappear. That averages to 250,000 a year, or two-tenths of 1 percent of theemployed work force in 1991.Averages, however, can be misleading. The decline could be uneven, with steep dropsin short time periods, making adjustment more difficult. And hardships will be much greater
than average in some communities where defense spending and jobs are concentrated. Anothercaveat: the U.S. economy is not as sturdy as it was during earlier defense cutbacks. American
industry faces tough challenges by foreign competitors, especially the Japanese; well-paid jobs to take the place of defense manufacturing jobs are scarce; and the 1990-91 recessionshows few signs of lifting in early 1992. Government programs can help defense industryworkers, veterans of the armed forces, and communities make the transition, and can lendassistance to defense firms that want to get into more commercial production. But theirprospects will depend most fundamentally on growth in the national economy.This is the first report of OTA’s assessment of Technology and Defense Conversion,requested by several congressional committees and members of the Technology Assessment
Board to examine effects of the defense build-down on the civilian side of the economy. This
report focuses on ways to handle the dislocation of workers and communities that is, to somedegree, inevitable in the defense cutback. It opens a discussion of how defense technologies
might be converted to commercial applications. The second and final report of the assessment
will continue that discussion and will concentrate on opportunities to channel human andtechnological resources into building a stronger civilian economy.
U
JOHN H. GIBBONS
 Director 
iii

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