Update: And check this out: Kick the Habit: Fund Our Communities, Not War.
I was reminded of one of my obsessions this morning, when I read in our local paper, the Herald-Times, a story buried on page 3, “Contractors mixed over looming defense cuts” Scrolling through it, I find this:
“Since 2001, the Pentagon has awarded $43 billion in contracts in Indiana, and the number of defense contractors in the state has jumped from 362 to more than 1100. The industry current employs 18,200 people, while subcontractors and suppliers support another 20,000 jobs.”
Oh my! Multiply that figure by 50 states, what do you get? Every little, economically hurting, local area everywhere in the U.S. most likely has at least one piece of the military pie — and so it’s very hard to think about dismantling or repurposing the empire upon which we all “depend.”
I live in a university town. I hate to think how much Indiana University depends on military contracts, especially in the area of funding professors and even entire scientific departments through grants, legacies, and other methods. Plus, what, really, is the agreement between Indiana University and Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, only one hour away?
Plus, how many actual military installations and bases are there worldwide? A good question. During the recent Iraq War, there were 505 bases in that country alone! Can you imagine? Some of them are now being dismantled. However the already massive U.S. Embassy in Iraq will have more personnel, not fewer, as the soldiers leave. From a huff post article, September 9, 2011:
The embassy compound is by far the largest the world has ever seen, at one and a half square miles, big enough for 94 football fields. It cost three quarters of a billion dollars to build (coming in about $150 million over budget). Inside its high walls, guard towers and machine-gun emplacements lie not just the embassy itself, but more than 20 other buildings, including residential quarters, a gym and swimming pool, commercial facilities, a power station and a water-treatment plant.
Yet the embassy is turning out to be too small for the swelling retinue of gunmen, gardeners and other workers the State Department considers necessary to provide security and “life support” for the sizable group of diplomats, military advisers and other executive branch officials who will be taking shelter there once the troops withdraw from the country.
The number of personnel under the authority of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq will swell from 8,000 to about 16,000 as the troop presence is drawn down, a State Department official told The Huffington Post. “About 10 percent would be core programmatic staff, 10 percent management and aviation, 30 percent life support contractors — and 50 percent security,” he said.
As part of that increase, the State Department will double its complement of security contractors — fielding a private army of over 5,000 to guard the embassy and other diplomatic outposts and protect personnel as they travel beyond the fortifications, the official said. Another 3,000 armed guards will protect Office of Security Cooperation personnel, who are responsible for sales and training related to an estimated $13 billion in pending U.S. arms sales, including tanks, squadrons of attack helicopters and 36 F-16s.
BTW: notice the weird militarization of olympic outfits — no, let’s call them uniforms — for this year’s massively militarized London Olympics, designed by Ralph Lauren!
But back to the actual number of bases worldwide: You might try wikipedia, list of U.S. military bases, for starters, though it won’t get you very far.
A couple of years ago, I used the figure, “700 overseas bases.” Now it’s apparently up to 1100, with many more planned. Big ones shrinking, giving way to lots more small “lily pad” bases. Gotta “project” that (faux) power!
Tomdispatch has a new article on the subject. Frankly, it’s so depressing and complex I couldn’t do any more than skim its surface.
The point is, we must recognize just how far-reaching and deeply embedded the military culture worldwide actually is first, in order gear down far enough to ignite our extraordinary capacity to transform it.
How the Pentagon Is Quietly Transforming Its Overseas Base Empire and Creating a Dangerous New Way of War
July 15, 2012
by David Vine