If you wanted any proof that the loss of enormous supplemental spending bills, combined with Defense Secretary Gates' tight control over the budget, is getting to the defense industry, look no further than an extraordinary event at the AUVSI conference.
We'll have to rely on the gifts of Steve Trimble, correspondent for Flight Daily News, for a summary since I went to another press event yesterday. Trimble says that "a Northrop Grumman executive yesterday stunned journalists by criticizing by name a staff member for the powerful House Appropriations Committee."
The criticism was not just that a cut had been made. The company's Global Hawk business development director, Ed Walby, put it in the starkest terms you can in the military world: "It's a good cut if you want to save the taxpayers money, but I think soldiers' lives are more important than $300 million or $400 million," Trimble quoted Walby.
On top of that, Trimble's story says that Walby claimed the funding cut would result in the loss of 14,000 jobs. What exactly was cut: $270 million for procurement of three RQ-4B Block 40s, and $50 million more for advance procurement of three more, according to Walby. And they sliced $85 million slated for one BAMS Global Hawk.
Company executives rarely disagree publicly with anything Congress does. They may speak on background or leak a document to make their point. And blaming a specific staff member by name is even rarer. Trimble didn't identify the staffer.