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3/19: Military Industry Confidential - Little Know World of the Aerospace Military Industry PDF Print E-mail

Military Industry Confidential
Little Know World of the Aerospace Military Industry

Lee Siu Hin
March 19, 2007

 
Every year in Washington D.C. just a day after the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the related major antiwar protest, little notice by peace activists at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in downtown D.C., there’s a large 4-day (March 19-22) U.S. Missile Defense Conference and Exhibit, organized by American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to promote more money for the missile defense program. At it’s 5th annual gathering, they state in their press release that “U.S. Missile Defense Conference will continue to build and strengthen Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and team relationships that will in turn make development of a global missile defense system a successful reality .... Consistent with this focus is the theme of the conference, Missile Defense -- On Alert.”
 
The Missile Defense Conference is just one the hundreds of weapon conferences/meetings/workshops happening every year across the country.  Organized by little known Pentagon’s agencies such as Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and civilian-based aerospace engineer trade associations like AIAA. They are the key players for the development of almost every U.S. weapon program and they are the main forces behind pushing the multi-billion dollars Pentagon budgets.
 
 
The Bottle Rocket
All military companies and Pentagon officials will know AIAA and acknowledge their leaderships in the aerospace industry and the U.S. weapon programs. With nearly 30,000 members, including aerospace engineers, corporate managements, military, intelligence and government officials, it’s a combinations of an engineer association, academic research, professional development, book publisher, think-tank and a political lobbyist. Many AIAA’s academic projects and programs are for civilian purpose, such as, commercial aircraft, communication satellites, deep space exploration and commercial aircraft maintenance.  But most other programs are for the military purpose, like: military aircraft, spy satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and the missile defense programs. They are also a bridge between the Pentagon, the MDA, NASA and military related industries, such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, where AIAA help facilitate technical meetings, to help push for more money for the military and civilian aerospace programs.
 
AIAA has dozens of technical committees such as aerospace science, space and missiles, and even a space colonization technical committee. Each committee organized their own annual small technical meetings or large national convention to discuss their technical achievements and political agendas, while also networking and building lobbying strategy for government funding, and attracting potential domestic and foreign customers.
 
While both Washington D.C.’s K Street political lobbyist and the AIAA are advocating more money for their pet projects, never-the-less they are different: most lobbyist are lawyers and politicians, using policy and budgetary analysis to sell their agendas. Civilian Aerospace organizations like AIAA are mostly comprised of  engineers and management from the industry, so when they selling the project they’re using half-scientific research/half-political rhetoric with little touch of “security” & “patriotism,” within a  package of wonderful scientific experiments.
 
For example, many members of the Aircraft Systems Technical Committee (V/STOL) are behind the technically problematic and expensive Air Force’s V-22 Osprey program. Yet AIAA and the industry had sponsored several conventions to highlight the importance of the program, and successfully lobby Congress to continue funding 200 million dollars annually. In another case, AIAA will organized the  Infotech@Aerospace 2007 Conference and Exhibit in May, which is co-sponsored by Raytheon, a major military contractor, to showcase their military aerospace IT technologies, in order to grab the a bigger slice of the pie from the increasing Defense IT budgets, for the next few years.
 
The March 19-22 D.C. Missile Defense Conference was organized by AIAA’s key members from the missile systems technical committee.  Along with major players at the missile defense programs like David Altwegg, deputy director of Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Jerry Agee, a corporate executive for Missile Defense from Northrop Grumman. Participants also include Pentagon officials, aerospace engineers and military contractors.  The programs included an interactive, two-hour ballistic missile defense computer-assisted war game, to highlight the accomplishments of the missile defense program for the past year. While the conference will be happen at the middle of the busy city, it’s a secret conference only people with security clearance can be attend.
 
The conference is tactically schedule at March, in order to be concurrent with Congress’s proposals and debate on the military budget. Organizations like: AIAA, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) along with MDA and the military industries are pushing dozens military-weapon conventions and conferences between February to May, and launching their biggest lobbying campaign since the Regan-era, in order to lobby Congress and the public to support their funding to build the multi-billion dollars ballistic missile defense system (BMDS), and other expensive weapon programs such as: military UAVs (like Global Hawk), Joint Strike Fighters, F-22 and many other weapon programs.
 
With a proposed 11 percent 2008 defense budget increase, and an unexpected boom in 2006 with a near record-setting $21 billion in U.S. foreign military sales, the Pentagon and the military industrial complex are surely the clear “winner” of the government budget. However, they’re still not satisfied, they’re warning that the defense budget will be eventually squeeze by ‘the big three’ government entitlement programs, Social Security, Mediicare and Medicaid within next several years when the baby-boomers beginning retiring. 

 
The Fear Factor
Conventional wisdom will tell us, we need to have “crisises” in order to sell weapons. Not surprisingly, major aerospace industries lobby for weapon’s money are also using  massive PR-campaigns to spread fears about “serious” military threats from foreign countries: Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, with recently Venezuela being added to the list (since Chavez began to plan to buy Russia’s anti-aircraft missile technology). Aerospace industry magazines such as Aviation Week & Space Technology or Defense News, has been devoting a large amount of their coverage in recent issues to discuss the Iran and North Korea nuclear openly advocating that the  U.S. should spend more money to develop missile defense programs, advance fighter aircraft and military UAVs because of  “threats” from these nations.
 
In the recent issue (2/19) of Defense News, the headline: “China, Iran Top USAF [U.S. Air Force]’s Threat List,” with an interview from USAF’s General T. Michael Moseley arguing “these ‘emerging threats’ require the nation to pay the price to modernize its fleet.”
 
On the other hand, the “grassroots” based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) claims to have over 9,000 memberships in over thirty states. Their board members include strange mixtures of backgrounds: retired generals, corporate lawyers, dot.com entrepreneurs, condominium developers and the head of a student athlete organization. “The mission of MDAA is to help make the world safer by encouraging the development of missile defense which would protect against all types of missiles at all times”.  They published their national opinion “poll” and found 79% Vs. 17% of bi-partisan public opinions overwhelmingly support Missile Defense, and 53% Vs. 38% of the public believes the system is affordable to develop.
 
In addition, think-thanks like Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, known for their right-wing conservative advocacy, are also joining the bandwagon helping the military hard selling the missile defense program to the public. Technically they are not aerospace engineering organizations; however, they are using their conservative fiscal analysis to convince Americans to want more guns a less butter. They argue the Congress (currently controlled by Democratic party) should not force the government to sacrifice national security by cutting military spending, in order to pay the rising costs of social security, Medicare and Medicaid, think these are the programs that “have to be cut.”
 
 
In Missile We Trust?
In recent years there’s has been a lot of hyping for the missile defense program, while critical information is being withheld from the public. Behind the scenes the research and developments of the programs had been non-stop regardless of who’s in the White House, since Regan-era. It’s true that a military program on this scale requires a generation of scientists with decades of research and development for hundreds of projects. A government budget cut for the program for a short period of time might slow down the development but fundamentally won’t affect the over all aspects of the programs in the long-run. 
 
During the 1990s when Clinton was President, after the Cold War ending  public opinion and the government wanted to cut military spending, the budget for the missile defense program were reduced. The Pentagon, AIAA and the military companies along with foreign allies were closely working together to fight for government funding, and the AIAA sponsored annual missile science conferences help keep the program alive.
 
After Bush became president and especially after the September 11, the missile defense program once again was brought back to the life. During 2006 AIAA Missile Defense Conference, at the same location, USAF Lt. General Trey Obering, the director of MDA envisioned U.S. should spend $9 to $10 billion annually between 2006 -2010 to develop:

- Up to 50 Ground-Based Interceptors, includes 10 in Europe.
- Fully integrated Thule radar at Greenland.
- 3 Aegis cruisers and 15 Aegis destroyers with 81 Standard Missile-3 interceptors
- 48 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors
- Up to 4 forward-based radars available

All in order to increase capacity to against North Korea, Iran, regional threats and “surprise” foreign threats.
 
According to Obering, there are currently at least 10 international partners working with U.S. missile defense program (Japan, U.K., Australia, Denmark, Italy, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey and Spain), with several new potential partnerships which includes: Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, India and Taiwan. One interesting issue has been his view that the U.K., Poland and Czech Republic will be the possible location for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.  On February 15 this year Russia threaten they might scrap the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty with U.S. if they build the GMD in Poland and Czech Republic.
 
Despite that within the AIAA and aerospace engineering communities, many scientists have voiced their doubts about the missile defense program, and sometimes engaged in heated debates during the conference, yet Pentagon officials claim these views are short-sided. On February 28 Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract by MDA worth about $980 million for the next 3 years to continue engineering and support work on the Aegis ballistic missile defense weapon system, one of the key components for the missile defense program, at their facilities at Bethesda, MD and Moorestown, NJ—surely a good news for the military contractor just before the March AIAA Missile Defense conference.
 
With the strong alliance between the military, the industry and the aerospace organizations, the weapon scientists will continue to working at their research facility, and the missile defense conferences like this will be continue for the decades to come in order getting more money for the weapon programs.
 
 

Lee Siu Hin is the long-time peace activist and the reporter from Pacifica Radio, national coordinator for the Peace No War Network http://www.PeaceNoWar.net and National Immigrant Solidarity Network http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org, the steering committee member of United For Peace & Justice (UFPJ) and Latin America Solidarity Network (LASC).


Reference:

Lists of Major April 2007 Military Conferences Across the World

Lists of Military Aerospace Trade Organizations, Government Agencies, Think-Tanks and Publications

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
http://www.aiaa.org

Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA)
http://www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
http://www.auvsi.org

National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
http://www.ndia.org

Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
http://www.mda.mil

Defense News
http://www.defensenews.com

Aviation Week & Space Technology
http://www.aviationweek.com

Video:
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Promotional Video
http://www.peacenowar.net/Military/Documents/auvsi.wmv
Documents:
"Missile Defense Program Update" (March 20, 2006)
Lt Gen Trey Obering, USAF, Director Missile Defense Agency (MDA)'s Speech at 2006 AIAA Missile Defense Conference, Washington D.C.
http://www.peacenowar.net/Military/Documents/mda032006.pdf
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) Opinion Poll
"Missile Defense and the Voice of the American Public"
April 11, 2005
http://www.peacenowar.net/Military/Documents/MDAA_National_Poll_final_v2.pdf
Related News:
Cold War Weapons, Arriving Now : Drawn-Out Programs Dominate European Spending

U.S. Lawmakers Would Strip JSF From Supplemental

U.S. Joint Strike Fighter Behind Schedule, Costs Swelling
U.S. Lobbies Europe Over Disputed Missile Shield Plan
New Weapons, Defenses Debut at AUSA Show
Dollars Keep Rolling in For Top U.S. Programs

Senator says U.S. must develop offensive space abilities
Missile Makers Battle for Share of $30-Billion Market
Foreign Military Sales Expected To Top $20 billion in 2006
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