General Lloyd J. Austin III at his confirmation hearing. [Source: euractiv.com]
General Lloyd J. Austin III at his confirmation hearing. [Source: euractiv.com]

[Editor’s Update- As of July 8, 2021, the Pentagon had awarded Raytheon over $10 billion in contracts since Lloyd J. Austin III took over as Defense Secretary. This total includes a single $3.12 billion contract for production and supply of the F-15 jet]

The Pentagon has awarded the defense giant Raytheon Technologies over $2.36 billion in government contracts since Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III’s confirmation on January 22nd.

Austin was on Raytheon’s board of directors prior to his confirmation.

Ben Norton on Twitter: "Biden's defense secretary pick Lloyd Austin has  been on the board of directors of arms company Raytheon since 2016. Trump's  defense secretary until last month, Mark Esper, was
[Source: twitter.com]

Austin at the time had made a commitment to resign from Raytheon’s board and recuse himself from all matters concerning Raytheon for four years and agreed to divest from his financial holdings in the company, amounting to between $500,000 and $1.7 million in stock.

These initiatives, however, have not prevented Austin from using his position to bolster Raytheon’s fortunes. Nor those of other defense contractors on whose board he has sat such as Booz Allen Hamilton, the world’s “most profitable spy organization,” according to Bloomberg News, and Pine Island Capital, a private equity firm that invests in military industry.[1]

At Austin’s nomination hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questioned him about his ties to Raytheon—whose headquarters are based in Warren’s home district (Waltham, Massachusetts).

A year earlier, Warren had proposed legal changes to strengthen ethics at the Defense Department by blocking the revolving door between the Pentagon and giant defense contractors like Raytheon, including by prohibiting big defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon officials for four years after they leave government.

Republicans Vote To Silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren In Confirmation Debate :  The Two-Way : NPR
Senator Elizabeth Warren [Source: npr.org]

Warren paradoxically voted to confirm Austin’s appointment as Defense Secretary—even though he embodies the danger of the revolving door.

Mark Pocan (D-WI), who with Barbara Lee wrote a letter in November 2020 to President-elect Joe Biden requesting that he nominate a Secretary of Defense with no previous ties to weapons manufacturers, stated that “American national security should not be defined by the bottom lines of Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon.”

Mark Pocan - Wikipedia
Mark Pocan [Source: wikipedia.org]

With men like Austin at the helm, however, it is very clearly being defined in this way.

Raytheon

Reporting revenues of more than $97.5 billion in 2020, Raytheon began its corporate life in 1922 as the American Appliance Company, developing refrigerators and radio parts and making advances in vacuum tube technology and related electronics. The company was drawn into military contracting during World War II when it manufactured magnetron tubes for use in radar systems.

Text, letter

Description automatically generated
[Source: radiomuseum.org]

One of the company founders, Vannevar Bush, became president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and chairman of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II, which initiated the Manhattan Project that led to the development of the atomic bomb.

A person sitting at a desk

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Vannevar Bush [Source: wikipedia.org]

Today, Raytheon is best known as the maker of Patriot and Tomahawk missiles.

It has also been a pioneer in the development of surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles and precision weapons—including guided missiles and laser-guided bombs—and manufactures air-launched nuclear missiles that are part of the U.S. nuclear triad.

Raytheon  hired former U.S. officials to press for approval of arms deals with Saudi Arabia, one of its most important clients.
[Source: nytimes.com]

In 2003, Raytheon put out a press release bragging that half of all air-to-ground precision guided missiles (PGMs) used by coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom were made by Raytheon.

Raytheon was also the first major defense contractor to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, selling the kingdom over 1,000 cluster bombs designed to maximize civilian casualties between 1970 and 1995. The company further hired members of the Saudi Royal Family as consultants, and opened a branch in Riyadh in 2017.

A group of men in white robes

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Opening of Raytheon exhibit in Riyadh. [Source: eyeofriyadh.com]
A picture containing text

Description automatically generated
[Source: raytheon.com]

After the Yemen war began in 2015, Raytheon, according to an analysis by The New York Times, booked more than $3 billion in new bomb sales to the Saudis, causing its stock prices to increase from about $108 to more than $180 per share.

Challenging Raytheon recruitment at UML career fair, March 2019
Protests against Raytheon outside the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where it was recruiting. [Source: masspeaceaction.org]

In 2019, Raytheon sold an estimated $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are centrally involved in the war in Yemen.

A picture containing grass, outdoor, hay, field

Description automatically generated
Part of a Raytheon-made GBU-12 bomb that struck a vehicle packed with women and children. Above: Remnants of the civilian truck after the airstrike. [Source: nytimes.com]

After an October 2016 Saudi airstrike on a funeral home in Sana’a that killed 140 people and wounded 500 more, human rights workers discovered a bomb shard bearing the identification number of Raytheon.[2]

A Saudi-led bombing of a funeral hall in Sana, Yemen, in 2016 killed at least 140 people and injured another 500. A bomb shard was linked to the American company Raytheon.
A Saudi-led bombing of a funeral hall in Sana’a, Yemen, in 2016 killed at least 140 people and injured another 500. A bomb shard was linked to Raytheon. [Source: nytimes.com]

It was one of at least 12 attacks on civilians that human rights groups tied to Raytheon’s ordnance during the first two years of the war.

Text

Description automatically generated
[Source: nytimes.com]
A picture containing rock, outdoor, nature

Description automatically generated
Blood-stained shirt of three or four-year old child killed in attack using Raytheon laser-guided bombs in Al-Dhihar district, Ibb province, September 24, 2016. [Source: nytimes.com]

In order to secure the lucrative Saudi deals, Raytheon took advantage of federal loopholes by sending former State Department officials to lobby their former colleagues, and later benefitted by having their former top lobbyist, Mark Esper, appointed as Defense Secretary in June 2019 in a precursor to General Austin’s hiring.

A picture containing person, suit, person, red

Description automatically generated
Mark Esper [Source: wikipedia.org]

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-wing think-tank, told The Intercept that since “Raytheon manufactures the bomb components that are used in Yemen, [General Austin] bears a direct responsibility [for war crimes and civilian deaths]. He was making money as a board member of this company that is directly responsible for the death and destruction there.”

William Hartung, the director of the arms and security project for the Center for International Policy, said that “picking Austin was tantamount to making the position of Secretary of Defense the Secretary of Defense contractors.”

Raytheon’s 2021 Pentagon Contracts

Fitting with Hartung’s assessment, Raytheon has benefitted from multi-million-dollar government contracts on a near-daily basis since Austin has taken charge at the Pentagon.

On February 1st, the company secured a whopping $290,704,534 government contract to produce equipment for depot maintenance facilities and services in support of the F-35 Lightning II, which military analyst Pierre Sprey characterized as “overweight and dangerous.”

A picture containing plane, outdoor, airplane, aircraft

Description automatically generated
F-35. [Source: nationalinterest.org]
Pierre Sprey, Defense Analyst & F-35 critic: January 17 – Safe Skies Clean  Water Wisconsin
Pierre Sprey [Source: safeskiescleanwaterwi.org]

Sprey stated that “It’s as if Detroit suddenly put out a car with lighter fluid in the radiator and gasoline in the hydraulic brake lines: That’s how unsafe this plane is” and “full of bugs.”

A picture containing outdoor, person, person, weapon

Description automatically generated
An AIM-120 AMRAAM mounted on the wingtip launcher of an F-16 Fighting Falcon. [Source: wikipedia.org]

On March 26th, Raytheon received another huge contract valued at $518,443,821 to produce advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM), which have been credited with air-to-air kills in conflicts over Iraq, Bosnia, Kashmir and Syria.

On February 26th, Raytheon was awarded an $18,662,845 contract to provide support services for a Javelin anti-tank weapons system, which has been provided to Ukraine for use against Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

What are Javelin missiles and why they're being mentioned repeatedly during  the impeachment hearings - ABC News
Javelin anti-tank missiles. [Source: abcnews.go.com]

On the same day, Raytheon was awarded a $32,853,210 contract for autonomous swarm strike loitering munitions, also known as “suicide drones,” which can be launched from unmanned surface and underwater vessels.

A picture containing indoor, missile, fighter

Description automatically generated
“Suicide drones” made by Raytheon. [Source: thedrive.com]

March 23rd was another good day for Raytheon with the receipt of a $63,301,453 contract for repair of an APG G5-73 all weather-sensor radar system, which is operational in the U.S. Navy’s F-18 fighter jet, and another $10,246,288 contract for repair of military jet engines.

A picture containing plane, fighter, airplane, military

Description automatically generated
APG G5-73 all weather sensor radar system. [Source: raytheon.com]

The company had yet more cause for celebration on March 30th, when Raytheon’s Tucson, Arizona branch received a $130 million contract for upgrades to the Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2/2A Guided Missile Round Pack, which is designed to protect U.S. Navy ships from incoming missiles.

Navy asks Raytheon to produce Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 2 for  shipboard missile defense | Military & Aerospace Electronics
Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2/2A Guided Missile Round Pack. [Source: militaryaerospace.com]

The next day, more champagne corks in company offices were likely popped with two separate contracts amounting to $138 million—one for more F-35 maintenance work and another for the production of mine-hunting sonars.

The AN/AQS-20 Minehunting Sonar enters the water. (Photo: US Navy)
Mine hunting sonar. [Source: raytheonmissilesanddefense.com]

Promoting More War

Though Austin claims to have recused himself from decisions involving Raytheon, the Pentagon under his direction is providing his old company with huge contracts on a daily basis that is bolstering its profits and stock price.

Austin furthermore has used his new bully pulpit to advocate for yet greater levels of military spending—to the benefit of Raytheon.

On February 25th, for example, on a visit to the U.S.S. Nimitz, Austin emphasized the need for U.S. warships throughout the globe to deter security threats—from China to Iran. A week later on a tour of Southeast Asia with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Austin warned about China again and the North Korean nuclear threat and pledged that the U.S. would maintain a robust military presence in the Indo-Pacific.

He further cautioned North Korea that the United States, following military exercises with South Korea, was “ready to fight tonight.”

A group of people standing in front of flags

Description automatically generated with low confidence
General Lloyd Austin III, next to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on March 18, 2021. [Source: stripes.com]

When fighting resumed in Eastern Ukraine in early April, Austin assured Ukraine’s Defense Minister Andrii Taran of the “U.S. commitment to building the capacity of Ukraine’s forces to defend more effectively against [supposed] Russian aggression”–which was demonstrated by a recent $125 million military aid package–and took to Twitter to reaffirm the U.S.’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

The latter implied the joining of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which would inevitably escalate conflict between the world’s two major nuclear-armed powers (the U.S. and Russia).

On April 13th, Austin announced that the United States would increase its military presence in Germany by about 500 personnel and was scuttling plans introduced by President Donald Trump for a large troop reduction in Europe.

Austin meanwhile in Tel Aviv affirmed the U.S. “ironclad commitment” to Israel, which receives a record $3.8 billion in U.S. military aid each year, and on a visit to Afghanistan stated that the Biden administration wanted to see a “responsible end” to the Afghan war, but that the “level of violence must decrease” for “fruitful diplomacy” to have a chance.

Lloyd Austin at conference with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on April 11th where Austin affirmed an “iron-clad commitment” to Israel’s security. [Source: defense.gov]

These comments and many others were music to the ears of Raytheon, which gave $506,424 in donations to Biden’s presidential campaign.

A group of people in military uniforms walking on a red carpet

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Austin walks on the red carpet in Kabul on March 21st with Acting Afghan Defense Minister Yasin Zia. [Source: apnews.com]

A Soldier’s Soldier

Besides his connection to Raytheon, Austin’s appointment as Pentagon chief was controversial because he had not been retired from the military for the requisite seven years and required a legal waiver.

Traditionally, the role of Defense Secretary is supposed to be a civilian position, ensuring the U.S.’s military apparatus is led not by a warfighter, but a policymaker. That requirement is laid out in the National Security Act of 1947 that established the Defense Department.

Heralded as a “soldier’s soldier” who would endure hardships with his troops, the 6’4” tall Austin graduated from West Point in 1975, and led infantry troops in the capture of Baghdad during the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A group of men in military uniforms

Description automatically generated with low confidence
General Lloyd Austin III [Source: sandboxx.us]

After a stint commanding the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, Austin was appointed as chief of staff of the U.S. Central Command at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, a high-tech command post where military officers could watch live imagery on plasma screens and order air-strikes through the Pentagon’s secure internet server.

General Austin with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a meeting in Kandahar, December 4, 2003. [Source: wikipedia.org]

Groomed for high military command by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, Austin was appointed as Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq in 2010, and Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for all military operations in the Middle East, by President Obama in 2013.

General Austin and Admiral Mike Mullen en route to Baghdad in 2011. [Source: defense.gov]

In this latter capacity, Austin drafted a war plan—approved by Obama—that allowed the U.S. military for the first time to directly provide ammunition and weapons to Syrian opposition forces, who included Islamic jihadists.

President Obama also endorsed General Austin’s idea to increase the air campaign on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

The result was an increase in civilian deaths. Journalists Anand Gopal and Azmat Khat determined that one in five of the 27,500 coalition air strikes in the 2nd Iraq War resulted in at least one civilian death, more than 31 times the number that was publicly acknowledged.

A picture containing rock, ground, outdoor, rocky

Description automatically generated
A silk rose lies amidst the rubble following a U.S. air strike in Sinjar, Iraq, in November 2015 where four civilians, including a child, were killed. [Source: defensenews.com]

Austin’s personal history and connection to the military and Raytheon mark him as a fitting Pentagon chief in an era of destructive militarism and creeping fascism in the U.S.

The Daily 202: Democrats would need to twist themselves into pretzels to  give Biden's Defense pick a waiver - The Washington Post
Joe Biden and General Lloyd Austin III. [Source: washingtonpost.com]

When civilians no longer control the key institutions of government and war industries ensure the perpetuation of endless wars from which they make obscene profits, the political system can no longer be defined as a democracy.


  1. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was a partner at Pine Island Capital.

  2. “People were on fire, and some people were burned alive,” one survivor, 42-year-old Hassan Jubran, told human rights workers. “There were also many children,” he said. “There were three children whose bodies were completely torn apart and strewn all over the place.”



CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

 

Click the whistle and donate

 

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Magazine, CovertAction Quarterly and CovertAction Information Bulletin are projects of Covert Action Publications, Inc., a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York.

We sincerely thank you for your support.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). Covert Action Publications, Inc. (CAP), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at info@CovertActionMagazine.com. For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: info@CovertActionMagazine.com.

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.


About the Author

16 COMMENTS

  1. According to one investment analyst here is a summary of Raytheon contracts in the first quarter of 2021

    For the first three months of 2021, Raytheon Technologies received $1.9 billion in contracts compared to $5.1 billion in 2020, $1.7 billion in 2019 and $4.4 billion in 2018 (all numbers excluding IDIQs) So, the contract awards are lower year-over-year but we do see that every other year there is a year with higher inflow for the first quarter and this year happens to be the occasional down year. Obligated funds dropped from $2.6 billion to $1.4 billion, although marking a year-over-year decline it also is in line with the levels observed in prior years.

  2. […] These initiatives, however, have not prevented Austin from using his position to bolster Raytheon’s fortunes. Nor those of other defense contractors on whose board he has sat such as Booz Allen Hamilton, the world’s “most profitable spy organization,” according to Bloomberg News, and Pine Island Capital, a private equity firm that invests in military industry.[1] […]

  3. During the Trump administration as well as previous administrations billions of dollars of contracts were given to Raytheon along with contracts to hundreds of other companies so even if John Doe had been chosen to be Secretary of Defense the government would have continued to give contracts to Raytheon. So I do not think Lloyd Austin is doing anything different from what John Doe would have done and thus I do not think there is any conflict of interest on the part of Lloyd Austin. One could criticize Lloyd for his excess and unnecessary spending, that would be perfectly fine however.

Leave a Reply