Leadership: Officers for Sale


March 7, 2006: As more money is getting spent on defense, world wide, there is also a lot more corruption. Examples abound. The head of the Indian navy is under pressure to resign because of bribes linked to the recent purchase of French submarines. The head of the U.S. Air Force is taking similar heat because of a contract being steered towards a retired crony. The Chinese armed forces are undergoing one of their periodic "let's stamp out corruption in the military" campaigns. But the Chinese are not the only ones with persistent corruption problems in their armed forces. India, with far more independent and active media, uncovers new military corruption cases all the time. Still, generals, and even lower ranking troops, continue to risk prosecution and disgrace, for the sake of some easy money.

The United States, long believed relatively immune to these corruption scandals, has seen an upsurge in incidents of military or civilian personnel in the air force on the take. The avalanche of money thrown at operations in Iraq has brought forth more scandals, but that's expected. It's the dirty dealing in the normal contracting operations that is more worrisome. That's because once the word gets around that your procurement officers can be bought, more crooked suppliers will make a pitch. And more officers will bite, and the problem will grow.

The Chinese are trying to break the cycle, the Indians say they are, and in the United States, there's fear that a cycle of corruption is getting started.


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