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Surprise: Ex-general pushing for NATO troops in Ukraine has weapons industry ties

Ret. US Gen. Philip Breedlove wants to escalate the military conflict with Russia but media outlets don't disclose he works for defense firms.

Reporting | Military Industrial Complex

Weapons companies and military contractors stand to book new orders and enjoy heightened demand for new weapons systems, as the United States and NATO countries scale up spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Coincidentally or not, one of the most high-profile advocates for dramatically escalating NATO’s involvement in the war — literally calling for putting troops and arms inside Ukraine — quietly moonlights as a consultant for weapons firms and defense contractors, interests that presumably stand to benefit from a direct conflict between NATO and Russia.

More importantly, that conflict of interest hasn’t been disclosed in any of his media appearances or interviews.

On Sunday, retired U.S. general and former top NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove told The Times of London:

So what could the West do? Well, right now there are no Russian troops west of the Dnieper River. So why don’t we put Nato troops into western Ukraine to carry out humanitarian missions and to set up a forward arms supply base?

The escalation of NATO boots on the ground inside Ukraine would make NATO a direct participant in the war, dramatically increase the likelihood of Russian attacks on NATO personnel and facilities, and raise the risk of a nuclear conflict.

Breedlove, whom The Times notes is “advising the Biden administration on Ukraine,” also works as a consultant for the weapons industry, a fact which The Times did not disclose.

According to Breedlove’s LinkedIn profile, he works as a “Senior Advisor to Culpeper National Security Solutions,” a firm that the Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote about in 2019 in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Ignatius wrote:

A U.S. plan to train and modernize the Saudi intelligence service is also on hold, pending State Department approval of a license. This project was developed by Culpeper National Security Solutions, a unit of DynCorp, with help from some prominent former CIA officials. No work on the project has been done.

DynCorp was a scandal-plagued military contractor with an expertise in military flight operations support, whose primary client was the U.S. government until its acquisition last year by Amentum, a company that boasts of its “deep relationships with customers in the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Energy.”

Breedlove is also promoted as an “advisor” at Stellar Solutions, a consultancy that markets itself to clients needing expertise in “coalition operations and “expert solutions for Department of Defense customers related to space and missile systems of national protection and security.” 

In other words, since retiring from the Air Force, Breedlove associated himself with firms that either directly profit from military contracts, like DynCorp, or market themselves as effective consultants for defense contractors seeking to manage their relationships with the U.S. government.

Breedlove may genuinely believe that a direct military confrontation with Russia, and the heightened risk of nuclear war, is necessary, but his downplaying the risks of boots on the ground dovetails nicely with his consulting work for industry interests that stand to benefit from increased U.S. and European defense spending.

Speaking on Thursday at The Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech, a campus ministry of the United Methodist Church, Breedlove batted away concerns about a direct military conflict between NATO and Russian forces, telling the audience:

"So Mr. Obama took 500 Russians off the battlefield in northern Syria. He faced the same Putin and the same nukes. Robert [sic] F. Kennedy faced nukes in Cuba aimed at our country and he did it. There are a series of presidents in history who have taken on Russia and their nukes and it went OK so my thought is do not take counsel of your fears and take all options off the table. We need to examine all options."

Those events are quite different from a potential showdown between NATO and Russian forces in Ukraine.

Both U.S. and Russian forces in Syria deliberately avoided direct engagement, and the Cuban Missile Crisis is widely seen as a sobering historical event that brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the precipice of nuclear war, an event that both sides have actively tried to avoid repeating. Indeed, one immediate consequence of the crisis was the installation of a “hotline” between Moscow and Washington precisely to facilitate communication at the highest levels in crisis situations.

But for Breedlove, these events “went OK” and, as a slide behind him read, “The ‘West must respond’ and the United States must lead!”

That course of action might be bad news for avoiding a NATO military engagement with Russia, a country with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. But it’s good news for the weapons and defense contractors who hire consultants like Breedlove.

Screengrab: C-SPAN.org
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