Personnel from major defense companies now occupy the highest ranks of the administration including cabinet members and political appointees charged with implementing the Trump agenda. At least 15 officials with financial ties to defense contractors have been either nominated or appointed so far, with potentially more industry names on the way as Trump has yet to nominate a variety of roles in the government, including Army and Navy secretaries.
Defense firms have eagerly watched as Trump recently unveiled a budget calling for $54 billion in additional military spending next year, as well as an additional $30 billion for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security for this fiscal year, which ends on September 31. About$15.5 billion of the $30 billion is slated to be spent on new military equipment.
Major lobbying groups for the arms companies, including the National Defense Industrial Association and the Aerospace Industries Association,welcomed the selection of Secretary Mattis, who has already scheduledmeetings with industry executives. Secretary Kelly has pledged to work more closely with the private sector, promising greater collaboration with private firms to accomplish his agency’s goals.
The Trump administration is the “military-industrial complex personified,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that while the administration is bringing arms industry officials into government, it is also demanding a massive increase in military spending and appears to be escalating conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
“In short, the Trump proposals are an armsmaker’s dream come true,” he said.