As much as half of the $14 trillion the Pentagon has spent since the 9/11 attacks has gone to defense contracts, The Associated Press reports.
The Pentagon spent more than $7 trillion on defense contractors, which not only provided weapons for the war but also increasingly took over duties previously run by the military. In Afghanistan and Iraq, many contractors oversaw logistics and even trained and equipped the Afghan forces. Contractors also paid money to warlords around the country and even to pay the Taliban for protection, according to a study by Brown University’s Costs of War project and the Center for International Policy. In some cases, the Pentagon insisted on equipping Afghan forces with complex Blackhawk helicopters and other aircraft that only a few contractors knew how to maintain. When the contractors were withdrawn, the Afghan military lost much of its capability.
“If it were only the money, that would be outrageous enough,” William Hartung, the director of the arms and security program at the Center for International Policy, told the AP. "But the fact it undermined the mission and put troops at risk is even more outrageous.”
More contractors killed than troops:
The post-9/11 wars have killed about 7,000 military members but they have also killed nearly 8,000 contractors, according to the Cost of War project.
The US reliance on defense contractors began when Halliburton, which was previously run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, got a $30 billion contract to run bases, feed troops, and perform other duties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cheney argued that the shift would allow the military to be more efficient and cost-effective.
The Pentagon also doled out big weapons contracts, most of which went to just five suppliers. Last year, Lockheed Martin’s contract with the Pentagon was 150% the size of the entire budget of the State Department.
Over the past 20 years, the Pentagon doled out more contracts than lawmakers could oversee, the study said.
Defense contractors reaped big profits:
When the stock market fell big after it reopened following the 9/11 attacks, one stock shot up: Lockheed Martin.
The company, America’s biggest defense contractor, saw its stock rise by 15% to $43 on the first day of trading after the attacks and for good reason.
In 2000, the company brought in 18% billion in defense revenue. By 2020, that revenue grew to $63 billion and made up 96% of the company’s income, up from 71% two decades earlier.
Today, the company is trading at $349.