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“It's not just what the military brings to San Diego, but what the ecosystem here means to the nation's defense. You cannot do what we do here in San Diego anywhere else in the world.”

Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
Nov 1, 2016

San Diego’s defense cluster continues to play a critical role in the region’s innovation and military economy and the United States’ national security priorities. San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world and the largest federal military workforce in the country.1 When considering the overall ripple effects of the defense cluster in San Diego, about 20 percent of San Diego’s gross regional product (GRP) is the result of defense-related spending. Jobs supported as a result of defense spending include uniformed military, federal government employees, and defense contractors, as well as employees in healthcare, engineering, construction, hospitality, and tourism.
As the region’s defense cluster catalyzes and inspires local entrepreneurs, emerging industries like unmanned systems and cybersecurity are burgeoning in San Diego and expanding into international markets. Local expertise in these fields provides strategic advantages for product development, job growth and the commercialization of defense technology.

Industry Highlights & Contributions

  • Defense contracts: In fiscal year 2017, $9.2 billion in procurement contracts was projected to flow into San Diego.1
  • Direct Spending: In fiscal year 2017, direct spending by Department of Defense (DoD) in compensation for the more than 140,000 active duty and civilians, support for veteran services, and defense contracts was an estimated $25.2 billion.1
  • Defense spending: San Diego County receives more defense spending than any other county in the U.S. with the exception of Fairfax County, Virginia, home to the Pentagon.2
  • Pacific Fleet: San Diego is home port to the Pacific Fleet and is the primary training ground for much of U.S. Marine Corps.1


AFCEA San Diego
The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) is a premier information technology, communications, and electronics association for professionals in international government, industry, and academia worldwide. AFCEA serves its members by providing a forum for the ethical exchange of information.
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International

AUVSI is the world’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community. It serves more than 7,500 members from government organizations, industry, and academia.

National Defense Industrial Association, San Diego Chapter

NDIA is the trusted leader in defense and national security associations. NDIA, comprised of its affiliates, chapters, divisions, and 1,600 corporate and 85,000 individual members, is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational association that aims to educate its constituencies on all aspects of national security.

Propel San Diego

Propel San Diego is a grant initiative awarded to the City of San Diego by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). Through the collaboration of six key partner organizations, custom programs have been designed to assist businesses who sell products and services to DoD in order to develop a resilient defense supply chain that can stabilize despite changing budget, regional economic, and DoD readiness priorities. 

San Diego Military Advisory Council
SDMAC supports, promotes, and represents the common business and other interests of the military, its quality of life issues, and the defense industry community in the San Diego area.



Introduction 1. San Diego Military Advisory Council, “San Diego Military Economic Impact Study”, 2017 | Highlights: 2. San Diego Military Advisory Council, “San Diego Military Economic Impact Study”, 2017 3. U.S. Department of Defense OEA, “Defense Spending by State,” FY 2015