McCain-Founded Regional Defense Coalitions Unite to Create the Arizona Defense & Industry Coalition (AZDIC)

Last month, four key alliances in Arizona announced the formation of the Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition (AZDIC) whose mission is to act as a united voice for Arizona’s defense and industry communities. AZDIC is founded by four defense coalitions established by the late Senator McCain: the West Valley Defense Alliance (WVDA) led by chairman and co-founder Lynndy Smith, Mesa Industry & Defense Council (MIDC) led by president and CEO Sally Harrison, Southern Arizona Defense Alliance (SADA) led by president Robert Medler, and the Yuma 50, led by president and CEO Julie Engel.

Despite the defense industry’s vast resources, efforts to improve are disjointed due to a lack of community and regulatory roadblocks that inhibit innovation and drive unnecessary costs. AZDIC will promote transparency and engagement between defense industry organizations, military installations, SMBs, and US Congress to alleviate these challenges. AZDIC members from defense and mining industries, military, veterans, and more, will ardently work on projects to carry out their mission of impacting the defense landscape, addressing staffing shortages within essential fields, supply chain congestion that limits materials for technology development, and modernizing overall defense infrastructure.

“We are proud to form AZDIC and carry out Senator John McCain’s legacy,” said Lynndy Smith, president of WVDA and AZDIC. “He believed in the importance of collaboration between Arizona’s defense industry, installations, and Congress, and we will actively work with US Congress to address ongoing defense concerns and positively influence both state and nationwide policy.”

AZDIC intends to unite Arizona’s massive defense community and its stakeholders, which is home to six military installations, four national guard operations and 1,250 defense contractors, specializing in numerous fields including electronic systems, smart automation, precision machining and advanced materials. The AZ defense industry produces 76,000+ direct and indirect jobs and generates $10B in economic impact.

“As a member of AZDIC, we are dedicated to preserving US military assets by ensuring that US policies allow for proper allocation of US resources,” said Robert Medler, president of SADA. “Together, with the WVDA, MIDC and Yuma 50, SADA will work to effectively modernize defense technology and programs to keep our nation safe.”

Yuma 50 is proud to be a part of AZDIC’s initiative,” said Julie Engel, president of Yuma 50. “AZDIC is taking immediate action to influence US defense policy and bring about lasting change to better support US national security, military installations and warfighters.”

On April 12, 2022, AZDIC’s Lynndy Smith led a meeting to discuss how the Arizona defense industry can work together to address the supply chain crisis. Participants included US Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and representatives from Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Mercury Systems, Resolution, Freeport McMoRan, South 32, Arizona Mining Association and the greater aerospace industry.

The US faces a copper mineral shortage and is 45 percent net import dependent on copper, which is the second most widely used material by the Department of Defense. Arizona is home to 400 active mines or development projects and is the largest US domestic supplier of copper production at 70 percent, making the Arizona defense industry specially qualified to access the minerals that are critical to the US economy and national defense.

Arizona’s defense community is joining forces through the Arizona Defense and Industry Coalition to fuel innovation and tackle supply chain issues – keeping America safe, strong, and secure,” said Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

“Senator Sinema has been a tremendous supporter of MIDC and AZDIC,” said Sally Harrison, President of the Mesa Industry and Defense Council. “Following in the footsteps of Senator McCain, Senator Sinema has empowered the AZ defense community to further unite its efforts to strengthen National Security and the US Warfighter.”

AZDIC invites other Arizona organizations to join and carry out its action-oriented mission. Organizations outside Arizona interested in forming their own regional coalition can contact the AZDIC for help as well. Together, the AZDIC and subsequent regional coalitions will unite the defense communities globally to spur innovation and advocacy for industries providing critical resources for US national security.

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