The Business of War


‘War is a matter of vital importance to the state. It can either lead to prosperity or can bring its ruin’Sun Tzu 700 BC

‘War’ this three letter word strikes terror at the hearts of those who have been in a conflict and sends adrenalin pumping through others who desire so. The word is Germanic in origin and originated around the 1150’s. Most scholars feel it originated from the German word ‘werra’ that means strife.

War has been responsible for creation of one of the oldest professions in the world, and unlike popular perception it was soldiering and not prostitution that was the earliest form of professional services rendered. However, today war and the defense sector provide far more opportunities for employment.

Today war and defense spending is a $ 1.7 Trillion industry. It constitutes almost 2.5% of the global GDP spend. The United States spends the most on war almost $ 770 Billion, while Gabon spends the least at about $ 4.2 Million.

Military Spending

Dow Jones’ Industry Classification Benchmark, classifies the war Industry into two broad segments:

  1. Aerospace
  2. Defense.

A further drill down into the two major segments reveals the following sub-segments

  • Aircraft and parts manufacturing- Non Civilian
  • Civilian Aircraft Manufacturing
  • Search, detection, navigation and guidance systems manufacturing
  • Military Engineering services
  • Research and experimental development services
  • Ship Building
  • Providers of operating staff for support services at client sites – such as janitorial and trash disposal services
  • Computer related services
  • Military land vehicles manufacturing
  • Software services
  • Ammunition manufacturing – except small arms
  • Small Arms Manufacturing
  • Radio and television broadcast and wireless communication equipment
  • Ordnance manufacturing
  • Small arms ammunition manufacturing

(Source: Deloitte The Aerospace & Defense Industry 2012)

Most defense contractors in the western world are private organizations and they usually work on the cutting edge of technology. In the recent past a lot of these organizations have entered into partnerships with Indian firms to provide various products and services to the Indian war and defense industry.

Examples of MOU

Source – KPMG-CII report “Unlocking the potential” – The Indian Aerospace and Defense sector

So how can one seek employment as part of this massive industry?

Well I can think of three ways.

1. Identify the core firms that are involved in the Industry. Some of the top firms that come to my mind are Lock Heed Martin, Raytheon, EADS, SaaB, Dassault and Boeing.

2. Most of these firms look for engineers- Mechanical, Aeronautical, Industrial design and Electronics. If you have a degree in any of these fields and want to work with technology of the future then the defense industry is the place for you.

3. Like all technology, the defense industry runs on software. They require many coders and technology architects. As this is one of the areas of strength for India, the opportunities are bound to rise in this field as well.

The business of war is like any other business and runs on the same principles of demand and supply. If one identifies the right opportunities, the sky is the limit for success.

  1. Vandhana Karthick says

    Excellent different ideas with new topic never I studied anywhere..And sometimes GDP decreases due to war..I think In Olden period Government doesnt calculate war and GDP at a time.

  2. Sumeet Kad says

    Nice info sir. With emerging superpowers such as China and India along with others to follow, I am sure this industry is going to propel at the rate of knots. But the question is whether young professional see this as a major professional field. Even educational institutes can focus on this industry now and move away from traditional industries.

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