Washington — The Pentagon on Tuesday released a report on defense spending for the fiscal year 2022, revealing how $753 billion was spent, allocated by the Pentagon's federal budget last year.
Among the items of these allocations, $389.5 billion went to private companies that contracted with the Pentagon to produce various weapons or provide various services.
Radha Plumb, deputy undersecretary for acquisition and sustainability, said that "our industrial base is one of our greatest competitive advantages," adding, "The report highlights how the department is expanding its relationships with new companies that are not traditionally associated with the military manufacturing ecosystem."
Many analysts disagree with the US military official's argument, arguing that the intimate relations between the Department of Defense and weapons manufacturing and development companies need to be scrutinized and reviewed because of suspicions of corruption and conflict of interest.
Modernization of the system
An event organized by the Quincy Institute in collaboration with George Washington University addressed the relationships between the financial sector and the arms industry in the United States.
The speakers pointed to the age and depth of the complex and intertwined relationships between US financial institutions and arms manufacturers, and that there is an increasing trend to establish mutually beneficial relationships between financial sector companies and new and emerging technology companies, and push them towards military applications of their products.
The relationship of financial investment funds with the arms industry dates back to the period of World War II, which was followed by the establishment of the first venture capital fund in the United States to take advantage of new technologies, developed for use during the war.
Government military spending has played a major role in transforming Silicon Valley since the eighties of the last century, into a technical center that is the most important in the world in terms of development and invention.
Investment funds that invest in weapons and military and intelligence technologies have expanded in recent decades, and several investment funds such as Veritas Capital and Civitas Group specialize in directing more private capital to the development of the arms industry and pushing technology startups to develop military applications for their products.
And it's not just startups, many large investment funds have divisions that employ many former officials and military and security retirees, along with financial asset managers who use their relationships with wealthy clients to raise capital for new investments in military technology.
Shana Marshall, associate director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies at George Washington University, noted that investment funds "re-pour their profits into supporting technical research of a military nature, and this gives them broad tax privileges."
A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone (Reuters)
Eisenhower's warning valid for today
After two terms in office from 1953 to 1961, former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in his farewell speech against "undue influence, whether at the request or without the request of the military industrial complex," meaning the alliance between the huge military establishment, represented by the Pentagon, and the major military companies.
This alliance wields broad bipartisan influence, and Congress passes annually and routinely, without being influenced by the party with the majority in its chambers - House and Senate - defense budgets without meaningful debates or reservations, and the military budget is one of the rare issues where the two parties compete to please the Pentagon.
The value of the US military budget exceeds the total defense budgets of the top 10 countries in terms of military spending: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Brazil.
The phenomenon of the "revolving door" allows former management officials to leave to work in private companies and institutions, and then return years later to government work and assume high government positions again.
For example, the current Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin, after retiring from the armed forces in 2016, joined the boards of several companies, led by Raytheon, one of the largest manufacturers of American weapons, and the Pentagon as its number one customer.
And it's not just the current defense minister, all former officials join the boards of major arms manufacturers, major corporate investment funds, or work in lobby companies for those companies.
In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, Jonathan Gower, an expert on military-industrial complex relations and its relationship with officials of US administrations, and senior foreign policy writer at Vox, said that "the American system has become programmed in this way, as it is usual to find former officials appointed to the boards of directors of large companies, or investment funds that have working relations with government agencies, especially the Pentagon."
Goyer said, "Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, was one of the first to provide his services to private companies after his retirement from government work in the mid-seventies of the last century, and then we saw many officials of the Ronald Reagan administration, and then the George W. Bush administration tend to work for companies that have interests with the US government, and this phenomenon has never stopped."
"Most of the technology companies that do not work directly in the field of gunsmiths, such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and many others, deal with the Pentagon in developing modern technical systems, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, navigation, follow-up and self-driving cars.
These companies are not ashamed of what they do, "but portray it as a patriotic act that serves American interests."
U.S. military budget exceeds total defense budgets of top 10 countries (Reuters)
The Pentagon's defense spending report for the year 2022 revealed the identity of the ten companies that received contracts from the Pentagon, as follows: