The rest of the story suggests that that flattening might not take place after all, given political and military pressures, so go figure on the message.
Everyone at the conference was hanging on the words of Ryan Henry, and it was not difficult to figure out why.
Mr. Henry, a top Pentagon planning official, was giving an early glimpse of the Defense Department's priorities over the next four years to an industry gathering in New York of executives of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and other leading military contractors.
For his listeners, there was one question hanging in the air: What will the impact be on me - and on my company?
Some of the answers were already clear, even if there were few details. Mr. Henry, whose official title is principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, said the Pentagon's spending binge of the last several years - its budget has increased 41 percent since 9/11 - cannot be sustained. "We can't do everything we want to do."
It was a message that the industry has been bracing for. The Pentagon budget, James F. Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing's $30 billion military division, said at the conference, has "been a great ride for the last five years." But, he added: "We will see a flattening of the defense budget. We all know it is coming."