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September 15, 2008

New Tomdispatch

This is part two of a three-part series by Frida Berrigan on the Pentagon's corporatization. Part one is here.


Military Industrial Complex 2.0
Cubicle Mercenaries, Subcontracting Warriors, and Other Phenomena of a Privatizing Pentagon

By Frida Berrigan

Seven years into George W. Bush's Global War on Terror, the Pentagon is embroiled in two big wars, a potentially explosive war of words with Tehran, and numerous smaller conflicts – and it is leaning ever more heavily on private military contractors to get by.

Once upon a time, soldiers did more than pick up a gun. They picked up trash. They cut hair and delivered mail. They fixed airplanes and inflated truck tires.

Not anymore. All of those tasks are now the responsibility of private military corporations. In the service of the Pentagon, their employees also man computers, write software code, create integrating systems, train technicians, manufacture and service high-tech weapons, market munitions, and interpret satellite images.

People in ties or heels, not berets or fatigues, today translate documents, collect intelligence, interpret for soldiers and interrogators, approve contracts, draft reports to Congress, and provide oversight for other private contractors. They also fill prescriptions, fit prosthetics, and arrange for physical therapy and psychiatric care. Top to bottom, the Pentagon's war machine is no longer just driven by, but staffed by, corporations.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 15, 2008 10:22 AM

Yawn, yawn, yawn.
Doesn't anybody read or do a little research anymore?
Once upon a time...Yeah, when the MIC (Milit-Ind-Compl) turned many soldiers into "project managers" more than 40 years ago and created their own business schools for them, the military side was submissive to the dominant industrial (read: money-making) one. Congress was the third party in this, thus books in the Eighties like "The Golden Triangle."
Very old hat.
And now some are shocked, yes shocked.
Ignorance, even when your heart is in the right place, is still ignorance. Corporations are running the Pentagon? No shit, Sherlock.

Posted by: donescobar at September 15, 2008 10:51 AM

Stop paying them, they thrive on YOUR dollar.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 15, 2008 11:15 AM


although it's true, the extent that it has become a small business vehicle is astounding. I personally know a number of ex-military that have parlayed this war into multi-million dollar incomes. So the complex has extended down to mainstreet in small towns, and is part of local economies there. That's somewhat different, and particularly, it's different since 1991-1994 when there was a seachange in the way priorities shifted on training soldiers and JIT-readiness made available by the market.

One thing that drove that seachange was the Clinton economy; it encouraged an exodus of competence from the military worker bees to the private sector. The talent remaining just wasn't up to the task to respond in real time to technology changes, or a globalized conflict spread.

I'm not saying that I'm excusing any of this crap, but only that it's qualitatively different from that old mic from 40 years ago.

The issue remains that joe sixpack that waves the flag at parades does not really understand the extent to which "warfighting" is actually done -- directly -- by mercenaries that live next door and attend soccer games with them on Thursday nights.

Posted by: Labiche at September 15, 2008 11:29 AM

Yes, Labiche. And those who have read Ike's Farewell Speech warning about the MIC with some care found his prediction that the complex's influence would be felt in every town and Main Street soon enough. Whether in suits or uniforms, directly or indirectly, private profiteer or Army Rangers, they belong to the same team. Ike saw it coming. Does it really matter that much of our "fighting machine" is now privately "staffed?" Do you care if the fellow who sold you the F-22 wore a blue Air Force uniform or a Brooks Brothers suit? Same team.

Posted by: donescobar at September 15, 2008 11:46 AM