US Defense Contractors Earned Trillion Of Dollars In ‘War Business’ Since 2001: New Study

Between 33 to 50 percent of the Pentagon’s $14 trillion in spending since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan went to defense contractors, a study published jointly by Brown University’s Watson Institute and the Center for International Policy on Monday said.

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“Corporations large and small have been, by far, the largest beneficiaries of the post-9/11 surge in military spending. Since the start of the war in Afghanistan, Pentagon spending has totaled over $14 trillion, one-third to one-half of which went to defense contractors,” author William Hartung of the Center for International Policy said.

The study, entitled “Profits of War: Corporate Beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 Pentagon Spending Surge,” also found that while some of the corporations earned legitimate profits during the course of the war, others through questionable or corrupt business practices that amount to waste, fraud, abuse, price-gouging and profiteering.

US military spending grew by nearly one-third between 2001 and 2010 even when adjusted for inflation, the study said. Since Fiscal Year 2001, the Pentagon’s all purposes expenditures topped $14.1 trillion, with $4.4 trillion going towards weapons procurement, research, and development for corporate contractors.

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk - Wikipedia
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk – Wikipedia

The $4.4 trillion dollar estimate is a conservative estimate due to the less transparent nature of the Pentagon’s budget for operations and maintenance, which also subsidizes private contractors, the study added.

One-quarter to one-third of all of the Pentagon contracts in recent years have gone to five major weapons contractors according to the study: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman.

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The companies received more than $286 billion in contracts in Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020, having split over $2.1 trillion between Fiscal Years 2001 and 2020.

One major instance of the profiteering was when defense contractors demanded that the Afghan air force uses Blackhawk helicopters and other U.S.-made aircraft, instead of Russian ones that the forces favored and could maintain themselves.