Archive for category General Dynamics

Israeli American and European Drone Lobbying of Canadian Government

Canada announced several years ago that it planned to acquire surveillance drones, and more lately indicated that it wanted to acquire armed ‘attack’ drones. It created the JUSTAS programme to manage part of the aquisition process, which has been discussed here before.

Several American and Israeli drone companies are registered to lobby the Canadian government. Because most of these companies have a variety of military products, and required reports of lobbying activity are often quite unspecific, it is difficult to determine how much of the lobbying relates to drones. In a given year some lobbyists may not lobby on a given project, but are presumably ready and able to lobby as required.

Also, the number of companies producing drones is proliferating, so might have escaped notice.

It is always disconcerting to discover how many former Canadian public servants now work for foreign enterprises lobbying the Canadian government, including the state owned corporations of other countries.

Elbit Systems, of Israel, has no fewer than  six lobbyists plying Canadian government officials, all working for CFN Consultants. Steven Irwin,  George Macdonald, Kevin O’Keefe, Charles Mclennan, Georges Rouseau, and George Butts, who are registered to lobby Department of National Defence, the Coast Guard, Public Safety Canada, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Steven Irwin had a long career with Department of National Defense Canada before becoming a lobbyist. George Macdonald was a high ranking Canadian officer until 2004. Kevin O’Keefe was a high ranking official in DND in the technical area. Charles Maclennan was a high ranking official in several Canadian government departments. Georges Rousseau was a high ranking military officer until 2008. George Butts was an official of a couple of government departments, including the Canadian Coast Guard.

Elbit Systems has several drone models for sale, including at least least two versions of the Hermes drone.

Israel Aircraft Industries, has five CFN lobbyists registered to lobby for them, including Kevin O’Keefe, Pierre Lagueux, Ian Parker, Gavin Scott and Greg Browning. Pierre Lagueux was a high ranking official in DND in ‘materiel’, until 1999. (His specific remit is listed as dealing with IAI’s wish to sell Canada its drones). Ian Parker was a high ranking naval officer until 2005. Gavin Scott was a government official dealing with supply until 2001. Greg Browning was a high ranking public official until 2008.

IAI has the Heron drone, and the Eitan for sale, among others.

General Atomics uses The Parliamentary Group, as its registered lobbyists, specifically Patrick Gagnon, a former Member of Parliament. General Dynamics lobbying efforts are specifically directed at the JUSTAS programme to acquire drones, presumably to sell its Predator or Reaper drones.

MacDonald Dettwiler, which has been an agent for IAI drones, maintains and active programme of lobbying government officials, but documentation does not show lobbying with respect to drones in the past year.

Raytheon International has several lobbyists with active registrations, including (from CFN Consultants) Steven Irwin, Kevin O’Keefe, Georges Rousseau, Charles Maclennan, Ian Parker, and Tony Goode. Ian Parker was a high ranking Canadian naval officer until 2005. Tony Goode was a high ranking military officer until 1996, with experience in positions in the US military.

Also with an active lobbyist registration is Jacques J. M. Shore, though Mr. Shore’s responsibilities do not seem to relate to lobbying with respect to drones. Thomas M. Culligan, Chief Executive Officer of Raytheon is also registered to lobby Canadian government officials.

Raytheon lobbyists are specifically tasked with lobbying relative to the JUSTAS programme.

Northrup Grumman has previouly promoted its Global Hawk drone to Canada. They have Meghan Spilka O’Keefe, former parliamentary assistant for Hon. Carolyn Bennet, MP, lobbying for them. She’s with Hill and Knowlton Strategies. Also Darcy Walsh who was once Director of Parliamentary Affairs PWGSC, Office of Minister Michael Fortier. Also Bruce Johnston, once a senior naval officer until 1996. Also Michael Coates, once Executive Assistant to Hon. Perrin Beatty, P.C., M.P. Also Goldy Hyder, once former Chief of Staff to Rt Hon Joe Clark. Also, Brian Fitch.

Pratt and Whitney Canada has registered to lobby with respect to Canada’s UAV policies, with at least three actively registered lobbyists, John Sabas CEO (and several PWC officers) involved in lobbying. Also, Richard A Morgan, formerly in the PMO, and Howard Mains, former government official, both of Tactix Government Consulting.

General Dynamics has a large number of registered lobbyists, but probably isn’t promoting a specific drone sale, although the company is pursuing drone related activities in Canada. .

EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company Canada) has Kenneth Pennie, KR Pennie Consulting, lobbying on its behalf. It isn’t clear whether EADS has any interest in selling Canada drones at present. It has the Baracuda drone, tested in 2009 at Goose Bay, NL,  and others. Pennie was Chief of Air Staff for the DND until 2005. EADS also has David Angus of  The Capital Hill Group lobbying for it. Until 1985 Angus was a liason officer in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Thales Canada, of France, has an active lobby effort, apparently headed by its President and CEO Paul Kahn. Thales has interests in several drone programmes, but the lobby documents don’t indicate whether they have been lobbying the Canadian government about drones. Thales may be trying to sell Canada its Watchkeeper drones.

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Former Canadian Navy Commodore Joins Arms Company

Another former Canadian Navy officer has joined a giant international arms company, and will specialise in strategy and government  relations. Across the world, international arms companies scoop up retired officers to give them advantages in dealing with armed forces and ministries of defence.

David Pugliese, in the Ottawa Citizen, reports that former Commodore Kelly Williams is joining General Dynamics Canada. Williams is a well connected former officer who has served in roles that involved him in both the American and UK armed forces in his job with the Canadian Navy.

William is well equipped to help General Dynamics sell their weapons and technology to the Canadian military. (See the Pugliese article for a list of his past jobs).

A record of General Dynamics extensive lobbying efforts can be obtained from the Office of the Commisioner of Lobbying of Canada. Many of the former professional lobbyists used by General Dynamics are former members of the federal public service.


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General Dynamics adds to killing arsenal

General Dynamics has introduced a new machine gun to an arms market that seems to have boundless creativity when it comes to killing people. The new machine gun, which uses .338 ‘Norma Magnum’ cartridges, increases the lethality of the new machine gun compared to the 7.62 calibre machine guns commonly in use, according to General Dynamics.

The new machine gun is light enough to be carried, or can be mounted on vehicles, aircraft, or boats. Or, one can predict, it will someday be mounted on the pickup trucks which are ubiquitous in third world conflict zones. And with GD claiming low  production costs and .50 calibre firepower, this new machine gun will no doubt be in demand. Photographs of the guns apparently being used in an Afghanistan-like setting can be seen here.

It appears that the new lightweight machine gun will be produced in the US. It is interesting that the new machine gun is able to compete in the same markets as East Sussex machine gun maker Manroy. GD also maintains a facility in Hastings, East Sussex. According to internet sources, the new machine gun is intended to replace the heavy ‘M2’ design machine guns.

Despite the international focus on ‘weapons of mass destruction’, the vast majority of deaths in conflict zones result from small arms fire. This General Dynamics introduction is an unwelcome development in the effort to curb violence and conflict.

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Peace Activists in Hastings Mock Local Arms Company

Peace activists in Hastings satirised the ‘blood washing’ activities of a local arms company with some street theatre. Hastings is on England’s south coast.

The arms company they mocked was General Dynamics UK, a branch of the giant General Dynamics arms company, which has a three facilities in Hastings. General Dynamics is one of the largest arms companies in the world. (See overview here). General Dynamics UK was recently embarassed in the public sphere by its sales of military communications equipment to the Qaddafi regime immediately prior to the UK intervention in Libya. (The UK intervened to protect Libyan civilians from being slaughtered by the military of that very regime).  The Independent newspaper documented the involvement of General Dynamics, and its government enablers, with the Libyan regime in this article.

The activists held a mock ‘triathalon’ complete with costumes and athletic contests and moved between the three Hastings facilities occupied by General Dynamics. The protest drew attention to General Dynamic’s community involvement programme, which includes sponsoring the Hastings Half Marathon. General Dynamics has a variety of community involvements in Hastings also including supporting the Half Marathon and the local bonfire society. (Editor-this is really a ‘bloodwashing’ activity. See earlier discussions of this practise elsewhere in the blog).

General Dynamics community programmes serve to divert attention away from the real nature of  General Dynamics products, which is to conduct warfare. And warfare on a grand scale, since one of General Dynamic’s products is the Trident submarine, each one capable of razing many cities.

In a demonstration earlier in the month, Hastings activists picketed the Castleham Road facility of General Dynamics as part of the national protests against the arms trade. The Hastings Observer quoted a company official as claiming ‘we are not in the arms trade’ (although it is hard to imagine that military communications equipment can not be described as ‘arms’).

(photos to follow)

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Elbit Tests Robotic Killing Sentry

Elbit has tested its robotic ‘unmanned turret’ in Finnland, at a firing range owned by the Finnish Armed Forces. The automated turret tracks targets and fires 30mm rounds at them automatically, with a 90% accuracy rate. The system is contracted to several  NATO countries.

One NATO country, with the system mounted on its Piranha tanks is Belgium. Elbit works with Mowag, a General Dynamics subsidiary to provide the turrets and a electro-optical fire control system.

The article does not suggest how the turret would distinguish between a small child, a stray dog, or an armed intruder.

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General Dynamics Worldwide Revenues, 2007

General Dynamics, based in Falls Church, Virginian, has 82,900 employees and expects 2007 revenues of $27 billion.  Source

General Dynamics Canada has 2,200 employees. General Dynamics Canada was created by the purchase of Computing Devices Canada in 1997, for $500 million. CDC was an indigenous Canadian high tech company.


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Bloodwash at General Dynamics Canada

General Dynamics maintains a ‘community investment’ program, a series of charitable activities in the cities it operates in: Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax. GD supports the United Way, Calgary Interfaith Food Bank, and in an ultimate irony, Canadian Blood Services.

Their website talks about the 50 community services they support, the participation of their employees in charitable work. But of course there is no mention of the death and destruction caused by the use of their products. No doubt it helps their employees to avoid the reality of their actions by focussing on ‘good deeds’. That’s bloodwash.

Can charitable works in Canada balance the destruction caused by the F-16 fighter jet designed by GD, the 50 calibre machine guns that obliterate people wherever the US fights, the potential devastation caused by nuclear armed submarines built by General Dynamics?

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