Christian Sorensen: Introduction to U.S. Military Contracting Announcements

Understanding the War Industry by Christian Sorensen

Screenshot by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

by Christian Sorensen
Writer, Dandelion Salad
September 28, 2020

C.P. Sorensen on Sep 25, 2020

Every duty day around 5PM Eastern, the Pentagon issues contracting announcements ( This video offers a brief introduction to these announcements.

Information on types of contracts:
Understanding Defense Department Contracts

Contracting announcements distilled into monthly summaries:

Information about the costs of war:

On de-militarizing industry:

Informative organizations:


What is the military-industrial-congressional complex (MIC)? The MIC is an insulated arrangement comprised of the Pentagon, the war industry, and Capitol Hill.

The war industry consists of the corporations that sell goods and services to the U.S. military establishment and to regimes and governments around the world.

The war industry is on display every day when the Pentagon posts its contract announcements around 5:00PM Eastern.

Here we go through a few examples of contract announcements and point out the important parts.

  1. The corporation and the location of the particular facility that is in charge of selling the product mentioned. So, while Lockheed Martin’s headquarters is in Bethesda, Maryland, you rarely see Bethesda credited for Lockheed Martin. You see any one of its numerous facilities credited (e.g. Stratford, CT; Moorestown, NJ; Orlando, FL; Fort Worth, TX; etc.). Here is a map of Lockheed Martin’s domestic facilities. This map is based on the facilities cited in the FY2020 contracts.
  2. Dollar amount. The contract announcement will specify how much money is allocated toward the contract or contract extension listed.
  3. Type of contract. Information regarding contract types is noted below the video. Take your time familiarizing yourself with this information.
  4. It is around this location in the announcement that you’ll see the order number and/or the contract number. These numbers are helpful when trying to search for more information on the contract. Sometimes one should search using a reliable engine, or one can search DOD’s contract announcement site.
  5. The meat of the contract announcement usually involves details of the good or service being purchased. Sometimes this is vague, sometimes specific. Here you’ll see a few examples.
  6. Next you’ll see the location of work and the expected date of completion. It is common for a product to be worked on in multiple locations. Bigger ticket items are spread across congressional districts.
  7. Next you’ll see the type of funding allocated. DOD has many different funding buckets it uses to pay for goods and services. Common funding buckets include operations & maintenance funds; military construction funds; working capital funds; research, development, test, and evaluation funds; aircraft procurement funds; and space procurement funds.
  8. The last bit of information you usually find listed in a contract announcement is the contracting activity. The contracting activity is the unit purchasing the good or service, not necessarily the one using it, or the only one using it. Popular contracting activities, among the dozens, are the Air Force Research Lab, the Defense Logistics Agency, the various Naval System Commands, Space & Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, the Missile Defense Agency, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, U.S. Army Contracting Command, Naval Information Warfare Center, and (when dealing with engineering or construction projects) Naval Facilities Engineering Command or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Not all of this aforementioned information is present in every contract announcement. Some announcements are paltry, some are packed with information. This has been a general rundown of how to read DOD contracts. Why learn this? Because we can’t stop the wars until we understand the war machine.

Christian Sorensen is a novelist and independent journalist. His work focuses on the U.S. war industry. His new book is Understanding the War Industry. Support Christian on Patreon. His website is War Industry Muster.

From the archives:

Christian Sorensen: Military Contract Literacy

The Top Driving Force Behind Wars Is The War Industry, by David Swanson

Will Griffin: United States Still Largest Weapons Exporter in the World + Green Jobs VS Military Jobs

Christian Sorensen: War Industry Muster–Intro to Foreign Military Sales (FMS)

Christian Sorensen: War Industry Muster–Why Work for the War Industry? + Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab is a Part of the War Industry

Christian Sorensen: War Industry Muster–The Corporate Underpinnings of the Special Relationship

Christian Sorensen: War Industry Muster–War Is A Racket

Will Griffin: How the U.S. Military Shaped Global Capitalism

Will Griffin: Militarism is Capitalism