America must strike a foreign policy balance between isolationism and activism by using its technological prowess, Norman Augustine '57 GS '59 told students and faculty last night at Dodds Auditorium.
"We need to find out how to avoid becoming '911 America,' and also not standing by while friends suffer," said Augustine, the former CEO of Lockheed-Martin.
Augustine suggested that America must continue its investment in technological military innovations, but not ignore the importance of its troops.
"The technological contribution is significant, but only one ingredient," said Augustine, who is currently a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.
Throughout his speech, Augustine continued to stress the need for America to invest in the longterm development of new technologies. As it stands, Augustine said, there is about a 54-year replacement cycle on military equipment, which is markedly longer than that for the electronics market.
"If these trends continue, it will be very difficult to tell how (the new technology) will be used," Augustine said, citing his fourth proposal for the defense industry. He said the United States should always prepare for possible changes within its foreign relations network.
America must remember the potential for "immense change in the ally-adversary relationship," and should plan accordingly, he said.
Augustine stressed the importance of restructuring the defense industrial base following the Cold War.
"America was spending more than it needed to (on defense) in 1990 and it changed that pattern," he said.
Augustine described the massive downsizing that took place in the early years of the decade in defense companies such as Northrop, Grumman and Lockheed-Martin.
"We concluded that two or three strong companies would be better than six or seven weak ones," he explained, outlining the mergers that left a few concentrated, powerful corporations in the defense market.
Augustine then gave an overview of similar processes taking place in Europe, and the problems that are arising there.
"It's not yet clear what will happen in Europe," he said. "The challenge to executives is a difficult one."
He began his speech with an overview of the state of world affairs in the aftermath of the Cold War, particularly America's role.
"One message came through," Augustine said. "Communism has been totally discredited in practice and in theory . . . and capitalism is changing the face of the earth."
Augustine cited the conflicts in the Balkans and the Middle East as prime examples of how the end of the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union has possibly made smaller, more "conventional" wars safe.
Augustine closed with an illustration of the ever-changing world scene: "It's a new world. Three of Lockheed-Martin's closest relationships are Russian companies. . . . We often look at each other and shake our heads."