One of the issues that will be decided in this year’s annual defense policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, will be whether Congress approves the president’s request to create a Space Force. An analysis by the Project On Government Oversight shows that, as is often the case, the people lobbying Congress to support its creation aren’t being transparent about their own financial interests.
POGO found that 39 of the 42 have current or past financial ties to companies that are likely to benefit from the establishment of a Space Force.
Forty-two former defense and intelligence officials signed an open letter this year expressing their “strong support” for the Space Force as a necessary and vital part of the overall national security infrastructure. The open letter, published in May 2019, does not disclose the actual and potential financial ties nearly all of the signatories have to companies that may profit from increased federal spending in the defense and space sectors.
When the letter was first released, Politico noted several of the signatories had financial ties to the space industry. A deeper analysis by POGO found that 39 of the 42 have current or past financial ties to companies that are likely to benefit from the establishment of a Space Force. Those who signed the letter did not violate conflict of interest laws, but those named highlight the coziness within the military-industrial complex, and that many of those promoting the Space Force are not independent voices.
Many of the officials sit on the boards of directors of major defense contractors with long-standing relationships with the Air Force, the Space Force’s parent service. Satellite operations are expected to be a top Space Force responsibility, opening contracting opportunities for companies developing and maintaining satellite technologies. Several officials who signed the letter work for commercial satellite companies or companies with products that rely on satellite technology.
When asked about their financial interests in the creation of a Space Force, one signatory told POGO it was “none of your business.” Several other signatories said there was significant uncertainty in industry as to whether creating this force would be better for their bottom line. For example, retired Air Force Colonel Douglas Loverro told POGO that he felt signing the letter could be to their financial detriment, since the Air Force has been opposed to the creation of an independent Space Force. Several signatories told POGO that to their knowledge there weren’t any companies involved in organizing the letter.
Unclear on whether a Space Force would increase budgets or take money away from other existing industry contracts, former deputy commander of Cyber Command Kevin McLaughlin told POGO that industry was “a cat on a hot tin roof.” Pentagon officials and the defense industry have both said that the defense industry has faced challenges anticipating what the Pentagon wants to buy. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the POGO website.