General Dynamics Corp

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One of the largest military contractors in the world. Provides weapons and munitions used by the Israeli air force against Palestinian civilians. Involved in monitoring the US-Mexico border and surveilling immigrant communities inside the United States.

General Dynamics is a multinational defense and aerospace conglomerate based in Virginia. In 2018, the company was listed as the world’s sixth largest arms-producing company by the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI) and Defense News. General Dynamics brought in $31 billion in revenue in 2017. Of this total revenue, 61 percent came from the U.S. government, including $676 million in Foreign Military Sales. The company’s primary customer is the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2018, General Dynamics was the largest government contractor in the United States.

General Dynamics is made up of four business groups: Aerospace, Combat Systems, Marine Systems, and Information Systems and Technology. Combat Systems produces wheeled armored vehicles, battle tanks, tracked combat vehicles, weapons systems, armament and munitions, and support services. Information Systems and Technology provides the U.S. army with computing and communications equipment and supplies the U.S. Navy with fire control system modification for ballistic-missile submarines. Marine Systems builds ships, including nuclear-powered submarines, for the U.S. Navy. 

Military sales to Israel and collaboration with the Israeli military industries

General Dynamics has provided the Israeli military with weapon systems and munitions, mostly through the Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales program. These weapons systems include bombs such as BLU-113 5,000-lb “bunker buster bombs”, MK-82 500-lb and MK-84 2000-lb bombs, and  BLU-109 bombs. 

General Dynamics manufactures the GD 883 engine for the Israeli 65t Merkava 4 battle tank and it is the primary manufacturer of the Namer, or “Leopard,” armored personnel carriers (APCs).

The company also produces the gun systems that arm the F-16 and F-35 fighter jets, a technology designed to protect combat vehicles from anti-tank rockets, guided missiles called the Iron Fist Light Active Protection System, and a special electronic mission aircraft (SEMA) for Israel’s air force.

Use of General Dynamics Systems in Attacks on Palestinian Civilians

F-16 fighter jets, Merkava tanks, Namer Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), and other weaponry have been used repeatedly in Israeli attacks on densely populated civilian areas, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The human rights community, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’tselem, and United Nations commissions have ruled these attacks to be human rights violations, collective punishment, and at times war crimes.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, Israel used Merkava tanks in Lebanon in 2006. Between July 12th and August 14th 2006, Israel conducted a ground and aerial bombardment of Lebanon that severely damaged civilian infrastructure and killed 1,183 people, of whom approximately one third were children. Israeli forces deliberately targeted apartment buildings, villages, plants, bridges, seaports, and other key features of Lebanon’s infrastructure. According to a report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Israel violated international humanitarian law by failing to take care to prevent civilian casualties during its airstrikes on Lebanese infrastructure.  

From December 27th, 2008 to January 18th, 2009, Israel conducted an attack on Gaza it called “Operation Cast Lead” during which Israeli forces used various weapons systems manufactured by General Dynamics. According to the UN’s Fact-Finding Mission to the Gaza Conflict, Israel carried out attacks with F-16 aircraft on civilian homes and refugee camps. General Dynamics manufactures gun systems for the F-16. These attacks were ruled violations of international human rights and humanitarian law as well as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. Of the 1,394 Palestinians killed in the “Cast Lead” attacks, 345 were minors. The assault injured over 5,300 people and killed 1,383 Palestinians, of whom 333 were children. Israeli forces destroyed the homes of over 3,400 Palestinian families and left thousands of civilians homeless and physically impaired. According to a report published by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilian objects and failed to take every possible precaution to minimize civilian casualties, thereby violating customary international law.

In 2014, Israel conducted an attack on Gaza called “Operation Protective Edge” that killed 2,251 Palestinians, of whom 1,462 were civilians and 551 were children. Israeli forces used numerous weapons systems manufactured by General Dynamics throughout the assault on Gaza. RAND Corporation reported that Israel used Merkava 4 battle tanks in Gaza in both Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. RAND also documented Israeli use of Namer APCs in the Golani Brigade attack on Shuja’iya that killed 65 Palestinians, of whom 35 were women, children, and the elderly. According to a report by Amnesty International,  Israel used F-16 aircraft throughout the 2014 assault, including in an attack on Rafah on August 1 and in an attack on Al Shati Refugee camp. The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that approximately 47% of civilians killed during “Operation Protective Edge” were killed by warplanes including the F-16. Israeli forces conducted over 6,000 airstrikes in Gaza and damaged or destroyed 18,000 housing units, 73 medical facilities, and many ambulances. As a result of the attack, over 1,500 Palestinian children were orphaned and 11,231 people were injured, of whom 3,436 were children. According to a report by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Israeli forces may have violated international human rights law and committed war crimes on numerous occasions because of their apparent disregard for the preservation of civilian life.

F-16 aircraft were repeatedly used in 2018 to conduct airstrikes in Gaza, resulting in civilian deaths. In February, Israeli missiles launched from F-16 warplanes killed two 17-year-old Palestinian teenagers during six extensive airstrikes, the largest assault since Operation Protective Edge. The attacks wounded two more Palestinians and damaged civilian homes. In July, Israeli forces used F-16 aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial drones to launch about 85 missiles at the Gaza Strip, killing two children and injuring 28 people. The attack damaged residential homes and partially damaged or destroyed numerous ambulances and trucks transporting medical supplies.

Providing Surveillance Technologies for the US-Mexico Border

Since 2013, General Dynamics One Source LLC, a company comprised of two General Dynamics subsidiaries: General Dynamics Information Technology and General Dynamics Mission Systems., has supplied the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with remote video surveillance system (RVSS) on the U.S.-Mexico border. RVSS is used to provide persistent ground surveillance to Border Patrol Agents to effectively “detect, track, identity and classify” refugees and immigrants crossing the border. In April 2017, CBP announced that the General Dynamics RVSS solution had achieved ‘Full Operating Capability.’ 

In February 2018, the company announced that its pilot program of a relocatable-RVSS to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was successful and that six relocatable deployments would be made in Laredo and McAllen, Texas. As of 2018, General Dynamics has tested, installed and deployed the RVSS system across 68 sites in Arizona and expanded the deployment of relocatable units across the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.

The original 2013 contract for General Dynamics One Source LLC has since expanded to provide maintenance support for RVSS in Weslaco and Rio Grande City, TX and in San Diego, CA. The new contract was for $84 million, with a potential renewal up to $122 million. 

Facilitating Child Immigrant Detention

Since 2000, General Dynamics has worked with Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the department enforcing President Trump's policy of detaining children away from their parents. 

Contracts between subsidiary General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) and ORR dating from May 2016 to May 2019 indicate that General Dynamics provides “infrastructure services for the shelter care of unaccompanied children”. After receiving unwanted attention for their relations to the Trump administration’s Family Separation Policy, the company has released a statement in June 2018 entitled “Get the Facts Straight” stating that they only provide, “casework support services to help ensure special needs of unaccompanied children are met, including medical requirements, and to facilitate family reunification, only after children are under the care of Health and Human Services.” The statement emphasized that General Dynamics “has no role in the family separation policy, nor a role in the construction or operation of detention facilities.” However, immediately following the new zero-tolerance policy, the company began advertising for jobs to help process child detainees: bilingual case workers, data entry clerks, a position to review files and redact information, and a position to monitor youths’ cases as they move through the system. 

In 2017 alone, GDIT made more than $4 billion in these types of contracts, including the administering of Medicare, however the company will not disclose publicly how much its contracts with ORR are worth since 2015. Reuters previously reported that the company was awarded $13 million in contracts between 2010 and 2014, yet these figures could be significantly higher under the current administration’s family separation policies.

CSRA Operations in Immigrant Surveillance, Detention and Border Militarization

In April 2018, General Dynamics acquired CSRA, Inc. (CSRA) for $9.7 billion, to become part of General Dynamics Information Technology. At the time, CSRA was the world’s 39th largest defense corporation in 2017 according to SIPRI. The company brought in several contracts with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), most prominently a $478 million contract from 2015 to February 2019 to operate DHS’ Automated Biometric Identity System (IDENT) database. This is the primary biometric database of the DHS, used to store, match, process, and share biometric and biographic information on over 230 million unique individuals. IDENT is an essential tool used by CBP and ICE as well as local and state law enforcement to track, monitor and detain undocumented people. 

Beginning in 2008, DHS began to migrate its IT systems and all information to two main data centers in Stennis, Mississippi and Clarksville, Virgina. The first in Stennis, Mississippi was set up and operated by CSC Government Solutions (now CSRA/General Dynamics). The first contract from 2008 to 2015 was worth $723 million dollars and the second contract running through June 2019 is worth $967 million dollars, which includes supporting ICE with its new Integrative Case Management (ICM) system and database. General Dynamics/CSRA as the primary contractor of the Data Center will provide Operations and Maintenance for future ICE IT Infrastructure or applications.

In May 2018, DHS CIO John Zangardi noted that 29 DHS applications are hosted in the cloud and another 70 are being migrated to the cloud as part of a “multi-cloud” strategy using various providers. According to Zangardi, the two immigration enforcement agencies CBP and ICE, have been the quickest to move their systems to the cloud. General Dynamics (CSRA/ARC-P Cloud) is one of only four DHS authorized cloud providers.

Beyond these major contracts, CSRA has been supporting other DHS sub-agencies including a $45 million contract in 2016 through 2019 to advise US Customs and Border Protections (CBP) on effective equipment in order to “prevent unlawful travel and trade”.

Additional Controversies 

As of January 2019, according to the Project on Government Oversight, General Dynamics has faced $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995, with 9 additional instances of misconduct pending resolution. These misconduct violations range from labor to environmental regulation violations.

In April 2018, the Communication Workers of America filed four complaints to the Labor Department accusing General Dynamics Information Technology of consciously and intentionally underpaying about 10,000 workers by up to 100 million dollars over the past five years.

Economic Activism Highlights
  • On April 26, 2017, University of Wisconsin-Madison students passed a resolution to call for the university's divestment from private prisons and corporations that build border walls, naming Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, Boeing, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, BNP Paribas, Suntrust, US Bank Corp., and Wells Fargo.
  • In May 2015 the Olgethorpe University Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from General Dynamics “based on evidence of their active role in human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
  • Students at UC Los Angeles passed a resolution to divest from General Dynamics in November 2014, stating General Dynamics “provide[s] weapons used in attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”
  • The University of Michigan at Dearborn’s student council passed a divestment resolution in 2010, calling General Dynamics a “corporation that sell[s] weapons, goods, and services to Israel [and] in turn uses the weapons, goods, and services inhumanely.”
  • In 2005 and 2006, the University of Michigan at Dearborn passed resolutions urging divestment from General Dynamics, citing the company’s “support and benefit from the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation.”
This profile was last updated on
7 January 2019