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From Boeing to E-Ring: Shanahan is Industry’s Man at the Pentagon | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 15, 2019

“My impression is right now everyone in the armed services, at the top, are like pigs at the trough and their goal is to scarf up every dollar they can get their hands on in Washington because this might be their last hurrah,”

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/from-boeing-to-e-ring-shanahan-is-industrys-man-at-the-pentagon/

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

WASHINGTON — John McCain is looking down on Washington and he is definitely not smiling.

The late senator had very little in common with the anti-interventionist principles of this magazine, but in the brighter moments of his 35-year career in Congress, he was the Senate’s most vociferous watchdog of Pentagon waste and contractor malfeasance. His grilling of military brass in this area was legendary, and his willingness to dress down an E-Ring four star or civilian executive in front of the C-Span cameras makes today’s congressional slobbering before the military high-hats look pathetic, and sad.

That’s why he would be all the more crushed to see how the Blob is apparently prepared to confirm a recent senior executive at Boeing—the second largest contractor in the entire federal government—to the role of secretary of defense. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who McCain, suffering at the time from brain cancer, suggested might be the fox guarding the henhouse, has been idling in the interim SecDef role since James Mattis just before Christmas. Now that a Pentagon Inspector General’s report has quietly cleared him of charges that he was putting his thumb on the scales for billions of dollars of new work for Boeing, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will officially nominate Shanahan for the role of Pentagon chief, starting the clock on Senate confirmation.

This has raised the hackles of defense reformers who always saw Shanahan’s presence at the DoD as the highest form of contempt: even by Washington standards, they see this as is a bald display of industry influence on the levers of power and, ultimately, U.S. national security policy.

“Having promised to change nothing, to simply extend the massive spending policies initiated by Mattis, Mr. Shanahan is sure to be confirmed,” charged retired U.S. Army colonel and defense analyst Douglas Macgregor in an interview with TAC. “Keeping the money flowing without interruption is the sine qua non for success in the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Critics point out that Shanahan has never been anything but a company man. His only experience in military and defense issues was as a program executive of contracts that sink billions of American taxpayer dollars each year into bloated weapons systems and increase shareholder value.

“Shanahan has zero government experience. He’s a defense corporation guy; his track record as deputy secretary is appallingly pro-MIC [military industrial complex],” Pierre Sprey, longtime military watchdog and defense analyst, told TAC.

Armed with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, Shanahan went straight to Boeing in 1986. After overseeing Boeing’s military rotorcraft (Apache, Chinook, and Osprey helicopters) and missile defense programs, he went onto the commercial side in 2007, where he was known as “Mr. Fix It” for saving the company’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft program. (More recently, he was forced to dodge any connection to 737 Max planes, which were falling out of the sky before a worldwide grounding.)…

So what we see here is an evolution of the MIC, what many call the “self-licking ice cream cone,” says Sprey. In earlier times, the secretaries had military or government experience and their cultivation of industry influence in the Pentagon was more sotto voce. “Over time, though, you can see more and more egregious military industrial complex shills, just some politicians and defense technocrats.” Shanahan is the first to go from a defense industry giant straight into the DoD’s center of power.

“My impression is right now everyone in the armed services, at the top, are like pigs at the trough and their goal is to scarf up every dollar they can get their hands on in Washington because this might be their last hurrah,” said Doug Macgregor. “And Shanahan is going all out for them.”

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