defense

Vicky Hartzler works for defense contractors, not Missouri

Lindsey Simmons

Lindsey Simmons

Facebook/Lindsey Simmons

I counted the doctor’s footsteps as she left the room, gauging how much time I had before she returned. My sweaty fingers pulled out my cellphone and I quickly tried to take video of the room and my growing pregnant belly — but I miscalculated. My doctor stepped back inside. I felt my face grow red.

“I’m alone,” my voice cracked as my doctor sat down and held my free hand. “I’m alone. My husband is deployed — I just don’t want him to miss any of this. He won’t return until our baby is born.”

Without missing a beat, she grabbed my phone, turned the ultrasound back on and helped me record a video of my baby sucking his thumb, growing big and strong. I sent it to my husband immediately.

There is nothing easy about being a military family. It certainly is not easy for the service member, but the toll it takes on the spouses and children left at home wafts into conversation as whispers that are soon forgotten.

During my sixth month of pregnancy, my husband was sent to a forward location in Syria, where it was difficult to maintain a regular supply chain. He relied upon the assistance of local Kurdish allies for necessities such as food. Not long after, pro-Syria militants, including Russian mercenaries, attacked American soldiers in the region, including my husband’s unit. It was the deadliest battle in Syria at the time. No American lives were lost, but hundreds of pro-Syrian fighters were killed.

Because of the strength of the U.S.-Kurdish alliance, my husband returned home safely — and earlier than expected, just in time for the birth of our son, Jace.

Not long after my husband’s return, we watched the president of the United States not only

Continue Reading

The Pentagon funneled coronavirus relief funds to defense contractors

The Cares Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’s intent.

The payments were made even though U.S. health officials think major funding gaps in pandemic response still remain. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. Many U.S. hospitals still face a severe shortage of N95 masks. These are the types of problems that the money was originally intended to address.

“This is part and parcel of whether we have budget priorities that actually serve our public safety or whether we have a government that is captured by special interests,” said Mandy Smithberger, a defense analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.

DOD officials contend that they have sought to strike a balance between boosting American medical production and supporting the defense industry, whose health they consider critical to national security. The Pentagon, which as of 2016 employed more than 156,000 people working in acquisitions alone, also has lent its expertise to the Department of Health and Human Services as it seeks to purchase billions of dollars in needed medical equipment.

“We are thankful the Congress provided authorities and resources that enabled the [executive branch] to invest in domestic production of critical medical resources and protect key defense capabilities from the consequences of COVID,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said in a statement. “We need to always remember that economic security and national security are very tightly interrelated and our industrial base

Continue Reading

Defense Contractors Don’t Need Another Covid Bailout

lockheed-martin-logo-img

(360b / Shutterstock)

EDITOR’S NOTE:&nbsp

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

The inadequate response of both the federal and state governments to the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the United States, creating what could only be called a national security crisis. More than 190,000 Americans are dead, approximately half of them people of color. Yelp data show that more than 132,000 businesses have already closed and census data suggest that, thanks to lost wages, nearly 17 percent of Americans with children can’t afford to feed them enough food.

In this same period, a number of defense contractors have been doing remarkably well. Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s top contractor, reported that, compared to 2019, its earnings are actually up—yes, up! The company’s success led the financial magazine Barron’s to call it a “pandemic star.” And those profits are only likely to grow, given the Trump administration’s recent approval of a 10-year deal to sell $62 billion worth of its F-16s to Taiwan.

Lockheed Martin is far from the only such outfit. As Defense

Continue Reading

Defense Contractors Reap the Benefits of a Growing Military Budget

FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary

NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — According to data compiled by Strategic Defence Intelligence, the U.S. spent over USD 639 Billion in 2018 for its defense budget. By 2023, the U.S. defense expenditure is expected to reach approximately USD 742 Billion while growing at a CAGR of 1.98% during the forecast period. The current presidential administration is friendly to the military and defense contractors and promotes the stance on increasing military defense spending. Additionally, the Department of Defense spending is set to grow by 9% in 2018 from the year prior, Blackrock said in a blog post. “The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act was passed at its swiftest pace in 20 years, up to USD 717 Billion (a 12% increase from 2017). Even after the 13% quarter-to-date decline in the Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index (as of October 29th), the industry group is still up 46% since 2016 Election Day and remains the purest way to play any change in defense spending outlook,” Blackrock said. Defense Metals Corp. (OTC:  DFMTF) (TSX-V: DEFN), Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTN), The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD).

As a percentage of GDP, the U.S.’s defense expenditure is expected to be approximately 3.1% during the same period. While the United States holds the largest budget for defense technology, it is also the largest exporter of defense equipment in the world. The U.S. are also expected to continue to remain the largest importers, due to increased defense budgets in allied countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, India, South Korea, Singapore, the U.K. and Japan. “What changes are likely in military technology over the next 20 years? This question is fascinating on its

Continue Reading

Defense Contractor Charged with $13M in COVID-19 Relief Fraud

The CEO of a defense contractor based in Hawaii has been charged with nearly $13 million in COVID-19 relief fraud.

Martin Kao is the CEO of Navatek, which was renamed Martin Defense Group back in July. According to the Department of Justice, the 47-year-old executive fraudulently obtained about $12.8 million in Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed under the CARES Act.

According to the complaint, Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications by falsely inflating his number of employees on the loan application and falsely certifying his company had not received another PPP loan. He stated that his company had about 500 employees when it had fewer than 150.

After receiving the nearly $13 million in loans, he transferred more than $2 million into his personal accounts.

According to Civil Beat, the CEO’s offices in Honolulu were raided by federal investigators. Kao also has political connections due to numerous campaign contributions and used those relationships, specifically with U.S. senators, to strongarm banks into pushing through the applications.

Kao faces two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

According to the Martin Defense Group website, the company provides research and development for the Department of Defense, NASA, and other government agencies. 

In May, the company won a $5.5 million DARPA contract to develop autonomous underwater vehicle technology for the agency’s Manta Ray Program. And in August 2019, the company won an $8 million contract from the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR) to design safer hulls and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for small watercraft.

The company was founded in Hawaii in 1979 but has offices in Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.

In an early statement, issued through public relations firm, CommPac, Kao said, “Navatek is a highly reputable company with

Continue Reading