Forget Petraeus: The Real Scandal Is Generals' Corrupt Weapons ProcurementNovember 18, 2012
It is remarkable what a sex scandal can do in Washington. This one is especially juicy because it concerns a retired military general who had obtained almost god-like status in military, media and national security circles. Gen. David Petraeus is still getting quite a pass in the press because of his self-promoted "stellar" reputation. I have dealt with generals for years, and I can tell you that Petraeus isn't the one that we should be worried about - it is the generals who buy our weapons and, for years and years, help perpetuate a permanent war economy, who should concern us.
This current general corps has a deep grip on the US Treasury and has often been instrumental in buying weapons that don't work well in combat and then allowing their fellow travelers in perpetual spending, the defense companies, to fix their own mistakes for even more profit. Yet these generals labor is relative obscurity except in the eyes of people who follow the mind-numbing world of weapons procurement, those who have endured anesthetizing hearings where generals openly tell mistruths about weapons to members of Congress, who just nod their head in approval rather than risk questioning a general with stars blazing on his shoulders and a flotilla of staff lined up next to him.These generals makes sure that they ticket-punch their way though the system, never taking large risks on behalf of the troops who have to use their equipment, hiding the mistakes and overruns until the next guy can take over, making sure that that they please the right members of Congress during pleasant but obfuscating trips to see the weapons that don't work. Most importantly, they make warm and fuzzy alliances with the defense companies for the all important post-retirement jobs on the companies' boards of directors, or set up their own consulting firms to milk out high consulting retainers from allthe contractors, not just a few. The whole military procurement system is set up to benefit:
- The defense companies, who get passes on their big mistakes and huge overruns.
- The generals and their upper officer corps, who will retire on to pleasant and lucrative jobs to supplement their measly officer retirement, which reaches as high as $230,000 a year for a four-star general.
- Members of Congress who can parlay big defense jobs to their districts while ironically boasting about the flawed weapons being made in their state.
So, what about the troops and the taxpayers who get screwed with ill-conceived weapons that continue to suck out the majority of the discretionary part of the federal budget?