That $14 Trillion Spent by Pentagon Since 9/11

Corporate behemoths such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and General Dynamics have been hoovering up much of that money, according to this analysis. 

Nov. 13, 2013: Jack Gellen, an executive with Lockheed Martin, escorts Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert on a site visit at Lockheed Martin. (U.S. Navy, Peter D. Lawlor)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Up to half of the estimated $14 trillion that the Pentagon has spent in the two decades since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan has gone to private military contractors, with corporate behemoths such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and General Dynamics hoovering up much of the money.

That’s according to a new paper (pdf) authored by William Hartung— director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy —and released Monday by Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

Published just days after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and two weeks after the last U.S. military plane departed Afghanistan, the paper documents the extent to which the massive post-9/11 surge in Pentagon spending benefited weapon makers, logistics firms, private security contractors and other corporate interests.

[Related: A People’s Guide to the War Industry]

“The magnitude of Pentagon spending in the wake of the 9/11 attacks was remarkable,” Hartung observes. “The increase in U.S. military spending between Fiscal Year 2002 and Fiscal Year 2003 was more than the entire military budget of any other country, including major powers like China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.”

According to Hartung’s analysis, from “one-third to one-half” of the Pentagon’s $14 trillion in spending since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan on October 2001 went to defense contractors, which spend heavily on government lobbying.

William Hartung in 2009. (New America, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

“A large portion of these contracts — one-quarter to one-third of all Pentagon contracts in recent years — have gone to just five major corporations: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman,” Hartung writes. “The $75 billion in Pentagon contracts received by Lockheed Martin in fiscal year 2020 is well over one and one-half times the entire budget for the State Department and Agency for International Development for that year, which totaled $44 billion.”

But those five corporate giants are far from the only companies that profited from the increase in U.S. Defense Department outlays following the Afghanistan invasion, which ultimately killed more than 46,000 Afghan civilians. Hartung notes that numerous other firms — including Erik Prince’s since-rebranded Blackwater, the Dick Cheney-tied company Halliburton, and DynCorp — benefited handsomely from the Pentagon spending boom.

“Halliburton’s Pentagon contracts grew more than tenfold from FY2002 to FY2006 on the strength of its contracts to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure and provide logistical support for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the new paper reads. “By 2009, over half of DynCorp’s revenues were coming from the Iraq and Afghan wars.”

Hartung argues that the Pentagon’s growing reliance on private contractors to carry out U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks “raises multiple questions of accountability, transparency, and effectiveness.”

“This is problematic because privatizing key functions can reduce the U.S. military’s control of activities that occur in war zones while increasing risks of waste, fraud, and abuse,” he writes. “Additionally, that the waging of war is a source of profits can contradict the goal of having the U.S. lead with diplomacy in seeking to resolve conflicts.”

Minneapolis demonstration against the escalation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan on Dec. 5, 2009. (Fibonacci Blue, Flickr)

In order to rein in war profiteering and increase government “accountability over private firms involved in conducting or preparing for war,” Hartung recommends several broad policy changes, including:

  • Slashing overall spending on war and military operations overseas;
  • Increasing “the role of diplomacy” in U.S. foreign policy;
  • Implementing more strict regulations and “strengthening the role of inspectors general, auditors, and contracting officers in rooting out corruption”; and
  • Enacting “revolving door reforms” such as “longer cooling off periods between government service and employment in the arms industry, closing loopholes in current laws, and increasing detailed reporting on revolving door employment.”

“Reducing the profits of war ultimately depends on reducing the resort to war in the first place,” Hartung writes. “Likewise, making war less profitable decreases the incentive to go to war. Given the immense financial and human costs of America’s post-9/11 wars — and the negative security consequences generated by many of these conflicts — adopting a new, less militarized foreign policy should be a central goal of the public and policymakers alike.”

This article is from Common Dreams.

The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

11 comments for “That $14 Trillion Spent by Pentagon Since 9/11

  1. Joe Wallace
    September 16, 2021 at 15:14


    Our capitalism is a system that excels at manufacturing money for a privileged few. The quality of what it produces, whether weapons or healthcare, is irrelevant; that’s not what it’s designed for.

  2. Anonymot
    September 15, 2021 at 14:45

    “…contracts to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure …”

    Anybody care to expand on this? My understanding is that immediately upon rolling Saddam’s head, his contracts with buyers of oil exploration rights were declared nul & void, whereupon, all exploration rights were sold to one U.S. company who proceeded to sell the rights to the same owners whose contracts had been declared nul & void!! There was a $3 Billion profit in this fraud. There was however, the inclusion of one American company. However, the existing oil installations were wrecked and in extremely hostile territory. Is there any news about what infrastructure was actually restored and pumping today and for the benefit of what nation’s companies, i.e. Total, the Russians, Chinese, etc.

    Erik Prince is a neofascist seller of bodies or should I say renter of same. Does anyone have the annual government payments to this man’s organizations? Or to whose campaign funds he pays the most?

  3. Jan Chastain
    September 15, 2021 at 10:57

    Need to COMMEND HARTUNG, who pointed out very good ideas for making war less profitable for these,,,bums. Longer time between leaving Pentagon and openly going to work for LNBGR (ListNastyBumsGotRich) is good idea too. He points out need to put an iron-clad limit on LNBGR’s direct and ‘indirect’ donations to our lawmakers’ campaigns. Good on you, Hartung.

  4. Jan Chastain
    September 15, 2021 at 10:27

    Made up a LIST of NASTY BUMS GOT RICH, off of war resulting from 9/11. L=Lockheed Martin (income increased 2 thousand, five hundred times)
    N= Northrup Gruman
    G=General Dynamics

  5. bobzz
    September 15, 2021 at 09:48

    Is it not interesting that Russia and China produce weaponry that is equally effective, and possibly superior, to ours at nowhere near the cost? I thought our ‘capitalism’ was superior?

  6. Jim Thomas
    September 15, 2021 at 09:44

    This is the predictable result achieved in a legalized bribery political/electoral system (I call it the Whores For Hire system). The primary goal of the system is to loot the entire world, including the American people (theft via the military budget and other lucrative avenues) and the invaded countries. The number of people murdered by this process is relevant only to the extent to which the American people take notice and raise objections. Few objections are raised due to the brainwashing achieved via the mainstream media, which produces an ignorant and misinformed public. Voila! Mission Accomplished! Now we have the ultimate charlatan/fraudster, Tony Blinken, telling the world how the “Rules Based Order” works — simple, the U.S. makes the rules. The rest of the world obeys them. How much notice does this get from our brainwashed (perhaps brain dead is a better description) public? None that I have noticed.

    • Dr. R.k. Barkhi
      September 15, 2021 at 21:28

      Well said

  7. Aaron
    September 14, 2021 at 21:29

    And the total owed by poor U.S. college students = $1.6 Trillion
    It’s really sad how we have prioritized death and destruction, at the expense of higher education and the future of college students just trying to exercise their right to the pursuit of happiness, how can they even approximate anything like happiness with like 75 K of debt hounding them to their graves? I bet our leaders’ children have no debt at all when they graduate, and almost none of them were sent to use all those useless weapons in the deserts and mountains of the middle east, so what do they care? Really sad

    • Crazyczar
      September 16, 2021 at 20:33

      Imagine, half of that money is spent on the U.S. infrastructure. Our roads would be smooth as glass, we could possibly have maglev train between Boston, NYC, and Washington and between San Diego and San Francisco via LA. America would be envy of the world.

      Instead, the U.S. is deteriorating politically, structurally, and militarily. Only the elite are smiling. They have profited from these war of choices.

      Funny and sad how our politicians in the Senate spend decades enriching themselves.

      Wake up sheeple, time to act!

  8. Mark Isham
    September 14, 2021 at 21:09

    Almost every homeless person in America who wanted an apartment could have been housed for far less than we spent on killing people. The military industrial complex is the problem as I understand it, along with war-hawks, and politically motivated lobbyists. What a damn shame and waste of valuable resources and “blood and treasure”.

  9. Ray Peterson
    September 14, 2021 at 18:51

    Beware Jake, investigative journalists like you and Hartung, writing
    truth about the military-industrial complex, are risking the Julian
    Assange treatment for revealing the war industry (book title by
    Christian Sorenson).

Comments are closed.