* This is part four of a six-part series looking at the history of the National Defense Industrial Association as it celebrates its centennial year.
"Finding the 'sweet spot' of readiness will involve the right balance of resources, capacity and quality of training coupled with an industrial base that is viable and responsive, and supported by an available, world-class and innovative workforce."--Gen. Hawk Carlisle Read the headlines today: "Cybersecurity Has a Serious Talent Shortage." "Google Employees Protest Work for Pentagon." Defense Companies Hunt for Scarce Skilled Workers." They have a common element. National security continues to rest on the shoulders of people, not the latest and greatest weapons. From the members of the military, to the defense industrial base that supports them, to the pipeline of next-generation talent, people are at the heart of the mission.
The issue of having enough and the right type of talent is one that the National Defense Industrial Association is working to address today. But it's an issue it has faced before.
As hostilities broke out in Europe in September 1939, America's political and military leaders had to confront the possibility of joining the fight against fascism. The technical knowledge of modern arms was only one part of the readiness equation. To build and operate these machines, America would need a robust industry workforce in addition to combat troops.
The first Lend-Lease Agreement, signed with Great Britain in 1941, helped push the defense industry to mobilize. The agreement specified that the United States would help Britain with much-needed military supplies while keeping America out of direct conflict. However, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, many manufacturing facilities still had to be converted or built, and workers had to be recruited and trained.
It didn't take long for the entire country to mobilize at a level never seen before. A key component was the participation of women in the defense industry and military. Flight million women entered the workforce to meet production needs. In all branches of service, women filled support positions previously held by men called to serve in active combat. More than 350,000 women held office jobs, ferried aircraft, served as nurses and suppliers, and worked in military intelligence, setting the stage for a more active presence in the services after the war.
Allied forces swept across Europe and then turned the tide in the...