The Multinational Monitor

AUGUST 31, 1985 - VOLUME 6 - NUMBER 12

B O O K   R E V I E W

The Pentagon Pie

STOCKING THE ARSENAL: A Guide to the Nation's Top Military Contractors
Linda S. Shaw, Jeffrey W. Knopf, and Kenneth A. Bertsch
Investor Responsibility Research Center, Inc.,
1319 F St., N.W., Suite 900 Washington, D.C. 20004
207 pp. $75.00
Reviewed by Louis Nemeth

After five years of arsenal building and one trillion dollars, people are beginning to question the Reagan administration's defense-spending spree. News accounts of exorbitant prices paid by the Department of Defense for ordinary household items, as well as the recent conviction of General Electric Co. for fraud, have riveted public attention on the defense budget and the megacorporations that feed off it.

Peace activists and proponents of economic conversion have often looked beyond the walls of the Pentagon to defense contractors in trying to reform the military establishment. But detailing the dangers of a company's - or community's - dependence on military contracts for economic well-being has proven an arduous task. Activists, unfortunately, have had to depend on the Defense Department or on the defense contractors themselves for information.

Now, the Investor Responsibility Resource Center (IRRC) has published a book that will not only shed light on the defense dependency, but will surely serve to inspire new campaigns for military-industrial accountability. Stocking the Arsenal: A Guide to the Nation's Top Military Contractors is a well-researched series of profiles of 84 corporations comprising the largest publicly-held manufacturers of weaponry in the country.

Each profile includes information on the total sales and income of the companies, the value of its DoD awards. outlines of the major contracts awarded, and a special section on nuclear weapons and nuclear-related work performed by corporations. The information, based on Fiscal Year 1983 figures, is enhanced by detailed footnotes that provide additional information on specific weapons systems.

From Stocking the Arsenal, the reader can ascertain that Rockwell International Corp., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the nation's foremost producer of nuclear weapons-related systems, receiving over $2.8 billion in FY83 for its work on the B-1B bomber, or that McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed, Boeing Co., General Electric, Raytheon and Litton Industries, all in the Top Ten of military contractors, received funding in FY83 for research and development of ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems, popularly known as 'Star Wars.' One can also analyze the `defense dependency' of major contractors by comparing the amount of Defense Department awards to total company sales. In addition, moral opponents of the arms race will be able to discover the not-so-pretty business of companies like Pan American World Airways, Singer, and Monsanto.

Five excellent appendices serve to give the reader a greater understanding of material only briefly addressed in the main body of the work. Appendix A describes the many non-nuclear systems used to support nuclear weapons, as well as the facilities around the country responsible for overseeing the production, testing, deployment and operation of nuclear and nuclear-related weapons and systems. Appendix B describes the ratio of DoD contract awards to company sales, both for 1983 and as an average over three years, indicating trends since the first of the Reagan administration 'megabudgets' for defense. Two other appendices consider contract awards of the Department of Energy and NASA (under whose budgets much nuclear-related work is performed), and the final appendix is a glossary of abbreviations and terms.

As excellent a reference material as Stocking the Arsenal is, however, it has some shortcomings, particularly in the profile section. For example, only the address of the corporate headquarters is included - no attempt is made to indicate at which of many company plants the actual work on contracts is performed. As a result, people trying to ascertain the 'defense dependence' of a plant in their community will have to rely on more than Stocking the Arsenal. In addition, difficulties arise in trying to compare DoD contracts to total corporate sales as a result of the different accounting periods used by the government and its contractors. IRRC is, however, quick to explain its methodology in overcoming this problem, and any inaccuracies resulting from it are minor.

On the whole, IRRC has done an admirable job of bringing together a mass of Pentagon data, corporate reports, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and other information to present a readable, educational, and eminently useful book.

Louis Nemeth is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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