In the nation’s capital the temperatures are high, and D.C. is giving its natives a classic swamp-like summer minus the usual tourists. The DoD is also taking some heat. After receiving an initial $10.5 billion in the first COVID-19 stimulus package, they’re now seeking an additional $10 billion to cover coronavirus fallout costs for its industrial base companies. Last month, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) stated his feelings on the subject: “We don’t need to give them any more money. The last time I looked they had not yet spent even half of the stimulus money. Gosh, everybody, every state, every locality, every federal agency, certainly every business has had to adjust in light of COVID-19 and the impact that it has had. I have yet to see evidence that DoD cannot adjust within their existing budget string.”

It remains unclear whether this opposition to additional DoD cash will lead to more layoffs.

Layoffs Impacting the Defense Industry

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Hewlett Packard Enterprise sent a WARN notice to its employees on July 14, and its layoffs go into effect the week of July 24, impacting 146 employees. The layoff affects employees at its SimpliVity hyperconverged business unity in Westborough, MA. HPE cites the need to “accelerate innovation” in an effort to reduce costs and unify its hyperconverged research and development between SimpliVity and Nimble Storage dHCI. HPE remains quiet about whether its Westborough, MA site will remain open.
United Airlines After United warned 36,000 employees of a pending layoff, it has now made some deals with its pilots, perhaps sparing the 2,250 warned pilots a pending layoff. American Airlines follows in United’s initial steps with warning 25,000 workers of a pending furlough or layoff beginning October 1. Without an end in site for travel restrictions warnings due to the pandemic, the aviation industry continues to feel the heat of the coronavirus.

Doug Parker and Robert Isom, the CEO and President of American Airlines explained in a memo to their employees, “From the time the CARES Act was signed in March, we had a stated goal of avoiding furloughs because we believed demand for air travel would steadily rebound by Oct. 1 as the impact of COVID-19 dissipated. That unfortunately has not been the case.”

Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment Alan Shaffer feels the defense industrial base is healthy; however, he cited concern for the aviation industry and a watchfulness over the shipbuilding, textiles, and space industry. “We are tracking the number of companies who have had layoffs,” Shafer said. “We are somewhere under 40 companies in the defense industrial base that have had layoffs. I compare that to the rest of the nation and I think the actions the department took to accelerate payment to our supplier sub tier actually allowed them to stay in business.”

Hiring impacting the Defense Industry

Epirus Venture-backed Epirus launched its counter-drone capability startup two years ago, but with leaders at the helm from Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, the company has just made a deal with Northrop. The supplier agreement provides exclusive access to Leonidus, Epirus’s software-defined electromagnetic pulse system. While the dollar value of the deal remains undisclosed, their CFO, Ken Bedingfield stated that the company is growing quickly. Despite a stall in growth due to the pandemic, Epirus still sees the ability to double in size in this next year, with an additional 50 employees added to its Hawthorne, CA location, as well as expanding to the Northern Virgina area.

The DoD included counter-drone system enhancements as a priority with a $18.7 million budget request for FY21.

Neuralink Neuralink is a neurotechnology company that was founded in 2016. As of last July, the firm boasted a staff of 90 employees. Apparently, Elon Musk is their recruiter, as he posted on Twitter: “If you’ve solved hard problems with phones / wearables (sealing, signal processing, inductive charging, power mgmt, etc), please consider working at” While Twitter commenters did not disappoint with their skepticism, according to Neuralink’s website, the company is in the market for 10 engineers. Despite Musks comments that seem like he is in opposition to artificial intelligence, he explains that he has the goal of achieving symbiosis with artificial intelligence.

Opportunity to Watch

The job landscape has adjusted over the past few months. Job requirements now include remote work and increased video teleconferencing – an environment that not everyone can function in for long periods of time. While not everyone has received training on how to live outside of their comfort zones, veterans are uniquely suited for an increased level of agility. Bootcamp begins the experience for members serving the Armed Forces with developing the skills of focusing and enduring despite uncomfortable situations. Deployments and moves have increased veterans capabilities to use technology as a way to connect and build relationships.

Veterans are skilled in blending personal and professional life – a needed skill now that employees are conducting videoconferences from the comfort of their beds. Veterans also have the ability to pivot and change course as needed in the post pandemic office life. While the list of benefits could go on and initiatives to hire veterans has been emphasized in the past, it’s even clearer now as we walk through the impacts of the coronavirus and hiring needs in the defense remain high. Veterans, be sure to highlight the added value that you bring.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.