"Between 2006 and 2008, Central Command alone had 172 contracts worth $270 million just for information operations in Iraq, according to a Defense Department inspector general report released in September.
Purchases of products and services made through major contracts included "military analysts, development of television commercials and documentaries, focus group and polling services, television air time, posters, banners, and billboards," the inspector general reported. Smaller individual purchases under information-operations programs included "magazine publishing and printing services, newspaper dissemination, television and radio airtime, text messaging services, internet services and novelty items," the report said." Pincus
The US armed forces generally don't like to make staff specialists into senior officers with broad command authority. They prefer to take officers of "the line," infantry. fighter pilots, ship drivers, etc. and give them that broad authority. There are pockets of activity where that does not apply, the whole medical field for example. Nevertheless, the tendency to appoint senior commanders from among the ranks of generalists leads to an inability on the part of many senior officers to deal directly with the many, many specialized and often very esoteric aspects of modern military activity. The same thing happens in the senior civil service where generalist managers are preferred for promotion and "command." To make up for the resulting incapacity, there is a tendency to hire support contractors from among the retired specialists. Such contractors have no intention of providing their services gratis and so this is expensive.
Asa result there are some very large support contractor companies. These are the fabled "beltway bandits," (I won't name them) but there are also a myriad of small to medium companies, often formed by the retired specialists. Obviously the money is a lot better for the partners in a small company that gains a contract or sub-contract. Sometimes a retired general or SES member is installed as the titular or actual head of the company.
There are "fads" in government activity, often spawned by a book, or a charismatic young personality. The appeal of such books and people often leads to the creation of new "think tanks"into which pour endowment money. Such "think tanks" are always popular in the beltway world because they are a wonderful source of well funded fellowships. These foundations attract the attention of politicians and the subject matter of the "foundation" easily becomes a new "fad" for which someone on high opens the money faucet.
Counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, information operations, cyberwar, irregular warfare, climate change, these are some of the current crop of emergent "industries" in the government-academic-think tank-consultant- contractor companies world. pl