The new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) promises to enhance the DoD’s cybersecurity posture, as well as, create some additional contracting hoops for defense contractors to navigate this fall. QOMPLX, an intelligent decision platform provider seeks to help contractors be ready for the change with a CMMC Pre-Assessment. The solution will help contractors understand the new requirement and prepare for an audit. Contractors who wish to continue in the defense industry will need to make sure their cybersecurity practices are in compliance with the new requirements. Achieving the right level could be the ticket to ramping up hiring for a new contract or reorganizing with layoffs to stay moving forward in the defense industry.

Layoffs Impacting the Defense Industry

Regal Beloit America Inc Based in Beloitt, WI, Regal Beloit made the decision to permanently close its Valparaiso plant, resulting int he permanent layoff of 86 workers. Approximately 62 of the workers are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The plant was founded in 1905 as McGill Manufacturing,  and later beginning its defense industry contributions in World War II.

While the CMMC continues to dominate conversations as contractors seek to understand pending changes to navigate, the newly minted class of assessors now has the training, but they may be in search of funding.

“We don’t have any external funds to pay for things that we needed, whether it was continuous monitoring, whether it was staff, whether it was insurance, all the normal business things we needed,” said Chris Golden, a member of the board of directors for the accreditation body, or AB. “We’ve been struggling spending a significant amount of our time trying to figure those things out versus figuring out what the ecosystem is going to look like and training people and getting assessments going and those kinds of things.”

Sometimes, it’s two steps forward, and one step back until the DoD gets all of its funds in order. With a lot of efforts in the fire, it’s always important to cost out efforts from initiation to implementation to ongoing monitoring. By the time the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation rule is issued in November, the necessary infrastructure and funding is slated to be in place.

“[Volunteerism] is not really the way things like this are ordinarily done,” said Robert Metzger, an attorney who co-authored the MITRE report “Deliver Uncompromised” and member of the Defense Science Board. “Of course you want volunteers and of course you want diverse participation from the sector or the industry, but there are times when you need a professional staff that know they are going to be paid and where you will need money to make awards to this or that or the next company to help you design, develop, and improve your systems. All of that is having to be done sort of on the run by the AB never quite sure where its next dollar is going to come from.”

Hiring impacting the Defense Industry

Navistar Defense Navistar is looking to add 500 jobs, and invest $8 million to upgrade its facility in Golden Triangle, MS, increasing its West Point operations. Navistar Defense is headquartered in Melrose Park, IL, and the organization manufactures and sustains tactical wheeled and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) military vehicles – both for the U.S. and NATO allies.

“Navistar Defense is demonstrating its commitment to the Golden Triangle region through this investment in our West Point Assembly Plant,” said Navistar Defense CEO Ted Wright. “Enhancing our manufacturing capability and growing our workforce is part of our strategic plan to grow the company. The plant’s large capacity enables us to build on our core military vehicle business and offers the potential to manufacture a variety of additional products.”

Opportunity to Watch

Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced a new effort to partner with defense organizations from more than 10 nations in developing artificial intelligence. Details on who is in (and who is out) are still forthcoming. Competition with nations like China and Russia seem to be a driver in moving the U.S. and other countries in a path forward together.

The AI Partnership for Defense has been set up to “create new frameworks and tools for data sharing, cooperative development, and strengthened interoperability” across partner militaries, Esper said at the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center’s Symposium.

“We are pioneering a vision for emerging technology that protects the U.S. Constitution and the sacred rights of all Americans. Abroad, we seek to promote the adoption of AI in a manner consistent with the values we share with our allies and partners: individual liberty, democracy, human rights, and respect for the rule of law, to name a few,” Esper explained.

Esper says that JAIC will work with the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and the Naval Postgraduate School to launch a pilot course this October that focuses on training more than 80 defense acquisition professionals at various ranks and grades on data science and fusing AI into operations.

“If there is an ‘AI arms race,’ it isn’t a Cold War-style race to develop the best and most of a technology that only a few players have,” wrote Peter Singer, author of Burn In. “Rather, it is about fundamentally different competing visions of AI and its applications, not just in war, but across society. China has a fairly clear and robust vision of this, and it is actively exporting that vision. There is absolutely no way the U.S. can compete without offering a different and compelling vision and one that involves our friends and allies.”

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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.