(Adds reaction from defense official, details on F-35)
By Steve Holland and David Lawder
BATON ROUGE, La./WASHINGTON Dec 9 U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump on Friday said he was considering
imposing a lifetime ban on U.S. military procurement officials
going to work for defense contractors, a move that could
dramatically reshape the defense industry.
Three days after publicly rebuking Boeing Co over the
cost of the next-generation Air Force One presidential aircraft,
Trump floated the idea of such a ban at a rally for Republican
supporters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"I think anybody that gives out these big contracts should
never ever, during their lifetime, be allowed to work for a
defense company, for a company that makes that product," Trump
said. "I don't know, it makes sense to me."
He added that he "got the idea yesterday" as he thought
about "massive" cost overruns for military equipment but needed
to "check this out" first before making any decisions.
Trump said such a ban would make "a big, big difference
because the purchasing in this country is out of control, for
everything, not only military."
The president-elect's idea was met with deep skepticism
within the U.S. defense establishment
Procurement and weapons program management jobs have long
been a good alternative career path within the Pentagon for
military officers who did not win coveted command jobs.
A U.S. defense official, speaking to Reuters on condition of
anonymity, said such a ban would likely discourage people from
taking procurement jobs in the Pentagon and cause more
"The reason a lot of people go in and stay in is because it
makes for a nice transition later to a civilian job. It could
make people want to avoid that," the official said after being
asked about Trump's announcement.
Current rules prohibit Pentagon employees from working on
the same acquisition matter in the private sector, said Andrew
Hunter, a former Pentagon official now at the Center of
Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
But an industry-wide ban on hiring former Pentagon officials
could backfire badly, he said.
"No one is going to want to take those jobs. You're going to
have the worst of the worst, because no one with any particular
talent is going to want a career where they are going to be
banned for life for doing what they were trained to do," said
Hunter, who is director of the center's Defense-Industrial
Congressional aides also told Reuters they were skeptical
that such a ban could be enacted.
Trump singled out Lockheed Martin's F-35 stealth
fighter jet program for criticism at the Louisiana rally, saying
it was "totally, totally, like, uncontrollably over budget."
The F-35 is the Pentagon's costliest arms program. The
Defense Department expects to spend $391 billion to develop the
plane and buy 2,443 of the supersonic, stealthy new warplanes in
the coming decades. Costs per plane are expected to fall below
$100 million as production ramps up.
(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Kevin
Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)