The war in Iraq may be winding down but the U.S. military is facing nimble foes as it shifts focus to Afghanistan. In addition, the defense department has come up against serious budget limitations as military officials develop for warfare strategies for the next decade. These challenges have officials thinking small — especially when it comes to weaponry.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently noted that the Navy will require smaller faster ships in order to engage with similarly equipped foes who are able to quickly maneuver through the water. And the U.S. military is increasingly turning to unmanned aerial vehicles. (UAV). Out of the 5,000 UAVs owned by the military, at least 3,500 are in use in Afghanistan and Iraq. A report released by Booz Hamilton notes that during the current surge, the military has turned to private contractors to build and supply small weaponry including drones equipped with missiles.
The defense department's budget is currently under scrutiny and it's too soon to know exactly what types of contracts will be released for bid in the near future. However, if you are working with clients who are interested in doing business with the military, you can expand their options by helping them become qualified bidders and responding to requests for proposal. Large contracts sometimes contain set-aside clauses which are designed to help small and minority owned businesses obtain subcontracts. Innovative hardware and software designers who start out as today's small business providers can position themselves as preferred suppliers for the next generation of weaponry.[Sources: Drew, Christopher and Bumiller, Elisabeth. Military Budget Reflects a Shift in U.S. Strategy, New York Times, 4.6.09; Unmanned and Robotic Warfare, Booz Allen, 2008]