Shovel load F-22s To the Rescue, Business as usual!
February 11, 2009 by don
My close friend and mentor, Chuck Spinney has written a preface to an article about the how the Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC) continues to shovel expensive and unneeded weapons into the economic recovery program. Again, while I support the President, it appears he is beginning to be sucked into the beltway with weapons we don’t need and wars we cannot win such as Afghanistan. I hope, like his hero Abe Lincoln, President Obama shows the moral courage and leadership to do what is right.
Begin Chuck Spinney’s preface and article.
President Obama is on the cusp of a victory in his effort to sell the economic recovery program, and the Military – Industrial – Congressional – Complex, or MICC, is poised to jump on his train. As Julian Barnes reports in the LA Times, Lockheed is now using Obama’s “shovel-ready jobs” argument to protect its F-22 cash cow from being terminated at the completion of the currently approved production quantity.
That such a patently ridiculous gambit carries enough weight to warrant a prominent story in one of our most prestigious newspapers is a natural consequence of the Defense Power Games — i.e., habitual behavior evolved and perfected through trial and error by the competing players in the MICC, over the 40 years of Cold War budget battles. My pamphlet, Defense Power Games (which can be downloaded here) explains how these cynical games create continual pressure to increase the defense budget.
Briefly, the Defense Power Games are a sophisticated bait and switch strategy that can be likened to political Blitzkrieg: Like a blitz, the first step in the gaming strategy is penetration by infiltration. Known in Pentagonese as Front Loading, the goal is to get a new high cost weapon program approved for engineering development by misrepresenting the future consequences of that approval decision (e.g., by inflating threats, exaggerating performance benefits, cooking tests, down playing future maintenance burdens and costs, etc.). The Front Loading operation slips the camel’s nose into the decision-making tent by turning on the money spigot with a sophisticated multidimensional deception.
The second step, known as Political Engineering, is aimed at locking that money spigot open. The trick is to build a political safety net to guard against the risks of program termination, which naturally will increase because of the cost overruns and performance cutbacks consequent to the Front Loading operation. In contrast to subtle infiltration of the Front Loading operation, the Political Engineering operation is simple brute force, because to be effective, it must be paralyzingly obvious, like panzers spreading out in the rear area after passing through the main line of resistance. The milcrats and their partners in industry achieve this end by spreading dollars, jobs, and contracts to as many congressional districts as quickly as possible. The idea is to put a lock on the political decision-making system, before it understands what it has signed up.
This is done by maximizing the extortionary pressure on a majority of individual congressmen and senators, should poor soul in the executive branch or in Congress decide to make an effort to cutback or terminate the program.
Multiply the effects of these power games over hundreds, if not thousands, of programs, expending hundreds of billions of dollars, and the result is pressure for an ever increasing defense budget over the long term — a budget that is under continual pressure to grow independently of any changes in the threats that could possibly be used to justify those budgets.
That is why, in 1991, I wrote in Defense Power Games that the unexpected disappearance of the Soviet Union and the sudden end of the Cold War would not produce a long-term reduction (i.e. a peace dividend) in the defense budget.
As Mr. Barnes indirectly shows below, there is no better example of the extortionary power of the defense power games than the fact that the F-22, a plane designed for the Cold War, continued beyond the Cold War, and now is being cynically held up as a “shovel ready” jobs program that should remain in production, even though the approved production quantity has been bought.
Lockheed lobbies for F-22 production on job grounds
The firm tells Washington that continuing the fighter-jet program would save about 100,000 jobs in the U.S., including in California.
By Julian E. Barnes
February 11, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington — Lockheed Martin Corp. is lobbying the Obama administration to buy additional F-22 fighter jets by arguing that continued production of the plane would preserve nearly 100,000 jobs across the country, including 19,500 in California.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and other officials have voiced skepticism over the F-22 program in the past, and disagreements over the future of the plane led to a shake-up in Air Force leadership last year.
But Larry Lawson, the F-22 program general manger for Lockheed Martin, said Tuesday that if the administration decided to continue production of the fighter, known as the Raptor, it would have a precise and immediate economic effect.
“Our point is, No. 1, this preserves jobs, and No. 2, it is immediate. You don’t have to develop anything,” Lawson said. “This is ‘shovel ready.’ “
The F-22 program is directly responsible for 25,000 jobs at Lockheed and its major suppliers. But Lockheed officials say when jobs from sub-suppliers are added in, the F-22 program maintains 95,000 jobs in 44 states.
In California, the F-22 is responsible for 6,500 direct jobs and 13,000 indirect jobs at 262 locations, according to Lockheed. Parts produced in California include Raytheon Co.’s processor that serves as the brain for the plane’s avionics.
Like other military contractors, Lockheed has ensured broad political support for the F-22 by spreading the work across the country.
Chicago-based Boeing Co. assembles the aircraft’s aft section and wings in its Seattle plants. In Baltimore, Northrop Grumman builds the plane’s radar. In Connecticut, Pratt & Whitney builds the engine.
The new administration faces a March 1 deadline to keep the production lines open. Job losses would begin this year, with the majority in 2010, Lawson said. The Air Force spent more than $62 billion researching, developing and procuring its first 183 F-22 fighter planes, or more than $300 million a plane. Additional planes cost less, about $142 million a copy.
The F-22 is often criticized as a Cold War weapon, of little use in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The plane’s backers say it can evade Russian-designed anti-aircraft systems that are proliferating around the world. They say it also would preserve the superiority of the U.S. fighter fleet.
As Lockheed of Bethesda, Md., steps up its push for more F-22s, the Air Force has remained quiet. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the military branch’s current chief of staff, has expressed support for additional planes but has kept a lower profile than his predecessor, now-retired Gen. T. Michael Moseley.
Moseley was ousted last year after disagreements with Gates and others over the F-22.
“The Air Force is just trying to avoid getting whacked by Secretary Gates,” said Thomas Donnelly, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.
Gates said at a news conference Tuesday that no decision had been made about the F-22. The Pentagon must formulate a budget that “serves the nation best,” he said.
Donnelly, who has publicly advocated procurement of additional F-22s, said it was important to keep the production line going now — rather than stopping and perhaps restarting later.
“We are coming to the end of the line,” he said. “If we terminate the line, I can’t imagine the company will spend the money to hold open a window that is pretty close to being shut,” he said.