BAE Systems: Bad Corporate Ethics and Selling Out The Warfighter

MOH recipient is suing BAE Systems in relation to their attempts to sell Pakistan thermal optics. Photo courtesy of USMC, photographer Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Wetzel

I was having a good day yesterday prototyping some new products, until I read the article about BAE Systems and Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer on This article got me really worked up.  Sgt. Meyer (Marine MOH recipient for actions in Afghanistan) is suing defense giant BAE Systems for defamation of character.

Basically, the suit states that after Sgt. Meyer voiced his objections to BAE management about their attempts to sell advanced thermal scopes to Pakistan, his supervisor contacted the DoD to tell them that Sgt. Meyers was mentally unstable and had issues with drinking.  This blocked Sgt. Meyer from obtaining a job with one of BAE’s competitors. I’m not even going to get into the blatant disrespect his supervisor (also a former Marine) showed a fellow Marine and an MOH recipient, but I am going to talk about the more pressing issue – Defense companies making the decision to let greed and profit trump common sense and the safety of our Men and Women who are serving in combat zones.

BAE was attempting to sell advanced thermal sniper scopes to the Pakistani government, according to the law suit. Sights that are superior in technology to what our own military personnel are currently using. Is it legal? Yes. Is it crossing the line into irresponsible? Absolutely. Technically speaking, Pakistan is an ally of the US. But, as they say, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck …” Why sell game changing technology to a country that, in my humble opinion, would have no issues letting that equipment be used against our own. We’re not talking about soft goods (i.e. nylon pouches) we’re talking about technology that could give the bad guys an upper hand over the good guys. So why would a company make that decision? Simple … money. In my own experience, I passed up the opportunity to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit by selling firearms to a Middle East government. Once I found out who the end user was, I respectfully withdrew my bid. It was more important to me to be able to sleep at night, then to make a bunch of cash knowing that those firearms would most likely end up in the wrong hands and be used against us. Was the deal legal? Of course. But I just couldn’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a capitalist and encourage profits for corporations. More profits usually equates to more jobs. But, you can still make a profit and have some personal convictions and integrity.

My favorite excerpt from the article is what BAE stated, “Mr. Roehrkasse, the BAE spokesman, said the decision to sell defense equipment is made by the State Department, not BAE.” No, sir, you are incorrect. The decision of what CAN be sold or exported is decided by the State Department. The decision to actually SELL defense equipment to a foreign government is solely and 100% up to the company selling that equipment.

I’m not calling for a boycott of BAE Systems or any of its brands. More than not, boycotts just end up negatively affecting the employees who have nothing to do with the corporation’s decisions. Even though BAE is a foreign (UK) company, it does employ thousands of Americans. But, I did want you all to realize that BAE Systems, who is supposedly in the business of protecting us, really is more concerned about profits than its corporate ethics. I don’t really know how to change the industry, but as veterans and citizens of this great country, we need to start demanding an ethical high ground for our defense contractors.

Check out the latest NY Times write up on increasing tension with Pakistan. There’s a reason we didn’t let Pakistan know we were going after UBL.

From back in March: “BAE Systems admitted Monday to knowingly making false statements to U.S. investigators to hide its failure to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Click here for the full story.  What do you think? Hit the like button and spread the word.

Kit Up! contributor Bill Janson is a former Recon Marine and is the founder of Eleven 10, a tactical gear manufacturer.


  • Lance

    Let the hero sue BAE into the ground General Dynamics is a better designer anyway.

  • Lance

    And I agree with him why are we selling weapons to a failed state like Pakistan who is buying more Chi Com crap more anyway.

  • FormerSFMedic

    I understand what the author is saying, but the DOD isn’t buying these right? I’m sure BAE would sell these to us too if we wanted them.

  • Go Navy!

    Good write up Bill. This is frustrating as well. BAE is totally being greedy on this one. Why are we helping Pakistan when why we know they help terriorists? Why doesn’t BAE sell these new scopes to our European Allies? As soon as these scope land in Pakistan, they will be replackaged and sent across the border against our troops. (Probably be mounted on the first AK or SKS they find). We can’t do much to boycott BAE but we have give them a bad name. Spread the word out there!!

  • marine23

    So let me ge this straight, the guy tell his boss something that he does not want to hear and his boss fires him and gives him a bad review? i do not see the problem at all. i think he is using his status as a medal of honor recipient to promote himself and his case.

    • FormerSFMedic

      @marine23- I’m with you brother. I know people don’t want to hear it, but in my eyes the MOH doesn’t make you any more special than all the Combat Veterans that bled in the same dirt. The media is covering this and so are many other blogs. My first thought was “hmm, is this blog/news site going to start covering these kinds of stories all the time now?” The answer is, no they’re not.

      • marine23

        i agree. i thought i was going to get riped apart on here for saying that. im glad someone is not cought up in the hype.

  • JEFF

    marine23…Meyer told his boss it wasn’t right to sell the scopes to Pakistan but his boss didn’t care so Meyer put in his 2 week notice to move back to his previous job with a different company (and competitor). To block his returning to the old job his BAE boss put in a bad review with DOD. has a story on it if you want to check it out.

  • Cloggman

    for the most part i agree with the article.
    On the other side im thinking; this company apparently makes some nice scopes.
    Should we be mad that this company is selling them to some dodgy country or should we be mad that our own DoD doesnt buy the best stuff available for our boots on the ground?

    Maybe if we and our “good” allies would buy the best stuff these companies wouldnt have to sell it to muhammed and ali.

  • Brandon Webb

    Good write up Bill. What ever happened to ITAR compliance. Unbelievable that the Dept. of State would approve this sale. Even worse that BAE would want to sell thermal night sights into Pakistan. For those who have served in Afghanistan, it’s no secret where these scopes will end up pointed……this is already linked but here it is again. This points out a bad trend in ethics in my opinion.

  • Dakota is a straight shooter. We’re lucky to have him.

  • jrexilius

    I read about this as well and also got rather worked up on many fronts:

    1) *** are they thinking selling those scopes to the taliban.. err I mean our pakistan allies.

    2) how in the **** do you **** with a Medal of Honor recipient? Honestly, even if he is “mentally unstable” and drinks too much (which should need a little more proof and substance than one bosses review) as a defense contractor, you either work around those issues discreetly or work with him to get help quietly. Not throw your hands up and smear his name. First and foremost you support him and protect his honor, even if he is walking away. Defense contractors have to make a profit but they should _not_ be profit at all costs. The nature of their work requires that they should put considerations of national security, ethics and honor higher than other companies.

  • Brandon Webb

    jrexilius….well said. -BW

  • Jesse

    I think it is important to note that Sgt. Meyer did not release this suit, but the media picked up on it by digging around. Obviously something like this makes for an interesting story and should not be pushed as him airing dirty laundry trumped by his hero status.

  • MarkM

    Umm, let’s clear up some misconceptions. “WE” are certainly not selling stuff to some dodgy countries. That’s BAE, a company based in the UK.

    Is there a new solicitation for the equipment? No, what you have is ongoing product development that has bypassed what is issue. The DOD isn’t going to buy the hot item of the month just to keep up – what they have in inventory works ok, and it takes a long process of proving it’s old school and needs updating before the long selection and acquisition cycle is even initiated. It’s called a bureaucracy. Out of respect for the taxpayer funding the entire exercise, due diligence is part of the system.

    In the larger picture, why is anyone surprised that a foreign company is attempting to sell goods to a country that’s proven to be our most difficult ally in decades? Isn’t that the entire history of arms deals over the last 25 years in the region – France, Germany, and the remainders of the Soviet selling arms and equipment to an enemy of the US? Somebody has either come to the game late or never studied up on the background story.

    We nearly stripped the state of Tennessee of mules just to pack Stinger missiles into Afghanistan against the Soviet, and we now understand not all of those were shot off at their helicopters. Quite a few are unaccounted for – as are former Soviet weapons acquired in the north and brought into the wrong hands.

    If the armament companies have to make some quiet deals to keep the doors open, expect this to come up regularly. It does anyway, we don’t get the OMG angle of backstabbing a MOH Marine as part of the wake up call normally. Bad juju on their part.

    That leads to a further point – how does this gear mount up to their sniper rifle? What are the Pakis using? The H&K G3 is actually made in a plant in that country – yep, Germany approved the sale of an entire gun factory, just the way our government has approved the sale of equipment to manufacture M16’s in numerous other countries. They have their strategic concerns about having the capability to manufacture on their soil, entirely the reason we have HK, FN, and Beretta plants in the US. So, are they using the HK in sniper role, or what else is designated – and who taught them how to use it.

    Having been to the Infantry School, I know for a fact we train foreign officers side by side with our own, and specialty MOS schools do the same. If these scopes are purchased, we very likely would have our tech experts teach them there, or even on our ground exactly how to use it.

    Runs a lot deeper than this little tweet.

  • 10thmtnlitefyter

    Well, thank you U.S. government and corporate America for selling Pakistan advanced tech to use against our service personnel in uniform. And if you think it is bad now, wait until the big defense draw down coming…..these companies will be allowed to sell to almost anyone willing to pay. See, instead of equipping our forces with weapons we need, we instead allow corporate America to make profits by selling our forces watered down and defect products. Thanks elected officials for gutting defense, and allowing huge over charges on defense products, and allowing companies to place profits over common sense.

  • DC2 Jennings

    Isn’t it the rotten apple that always spoils the bunch? Why do we have rediculously restrictive governement rules and regulations……. those that decide to take advantage of a situation to make their bonus instead of doing the morally right thing. Very respectable decision you made Bill with your bid, unfortunately those that consider greed over honor decided to put in a bid and made money with no liability.

    I have been impressed with Dakota Meyer at every turn. This kid deserves the MoH and has his head on straight. **** give him a couple of years and I might vote for him for POTUS….. couldn’t be worse that what the RNC and DNC produce.

  • JimS

    This really ****** me off on so many levels so many different reasons.

    BAE is adamant about civilian hunters not using their scopes. Apparently they feel it is bad for their image, and they will come after people hard to keep them out of law abiding civilians hands, but they have no problem selling them to Pakistan!?!

    ITAR Restrictions? One of the most sure fire ways I can think of to get the good NV/Thermal stuff in the hands of bad guys who are actively, RIGHT NOW, trying to kill our guys, is to sell it to Pakistan, but that’s OK lets do it. Oh and while we’re at it, let’s slander a Marine Medal of Honor recipient. Grrragh!

  • SteveG

    BAE has sold over 100,000 of these scopes to the US Army, to the tune of about 1/2 a billion $$. DRS and Raytheon share the contract. They are great sights and help the US “own the night”. They are ITAR restricted and somehow the State Department thought it would be a good idea to give Pakistan the ability to identify and neutralize human targets at 1000 meters in the dark. This is a capability they do not currently have and with the border situation in Afghanistan, shouldn’t. The kicker is that more than likely these were bought with foreign military sales $$, which is US taxpayer money. My feeling is that the State Dept., Obama Admin and BAE have all earned some blame here. Congrats to Meyer for calling them on it.

  • Sal

    Unsurprising behavior from BAE.

    They have a history of doing shady ****.

  • adil

    Disgust at BAE’s action is UNIVERSAL!

    Damn those god damned profiteers! Damn them to ****!

  • Gene

    I bet defense contractor BAE didn’t hesitate to use Meyer’s status as an MOH recipient to their benefit and self promotion. Meyer didn’t like what they were doing, and chose to leave their employ, but, they had to get vindictive and try to blackball him. Screw them.

  • marine23

    JEFF- i agree that might be a little low, but since when is a boss not supposed to give his honest opinion on a worker. his actions (or any other persons actions) in the middle east does not give HIM or anyone else the right to advocate his views upon the company. he would not have done it in the military and should not have done it there either.

    • Gene

      What I see, frequently, is mil or former mil guys attempting to apply mil thought processes to the civilian world. “He would not have done it in the military, and should not have dont it there either”. He’s not in the military. He’s working in the civilian sector. He disagreed with the ethics shown by his employer, and chose to leave. He did not get fired. He left of his own choice. His former boss made unsubstantiated personal claims and attacks on him, in what I believe was retaliation for him disagreeing with their shady business practice.

  • Achilles

    Awesome little write up Bill. I agree, the whole situation is effed up. It’s too bad that BAE will end up just filling up some pockets in congress and all this news will just fade away.

  • gunslinger6

    This whole thing just ****** me off beyond words!!

    • Go Navy!

      gunslinger6: I agree with you there. The last thing that we all want to hear is that our troops at being taken out at night by some insurgent sniper who will use civilians as cover to begin with. It’s just frustrating. Priviate companies needs to have more integrity on foreign military sales. But I dount that will happen because the CEOs need to make more money that they don’t need.

  • marine23

    So what if he does have a problem drinking and is mentally unstable. what is the company supposed to say?

    • Gene

      Who, in that company, is qualified to make a diagnosis? Is his boss from BAE a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, or any type of mental health professional? I doubt it. Or an MD, able to diagnose an addiction? Even a substance abuse counselor? I doubt that, too. Plus, even IF there were records, Meyer is protected by HIPPA, and the BAE guys have opened themselves up for a HUGE lawsuit. At the very least, there are legitimate slander and/or libel issues. Make an unsupportable or false accusation against someone, especially one that causes them harm or loss, and you just stuck your neck way out.

      Wheter Meyer has issues or not, BAE effed up, and, I hope Meyer gets his pound of flesh.

      • SteveG

        Every company I have ever worked for has an HR policy that says if called on for a reference you confirm that they worked there and the dates of employment. You do not even confirm or deny why they left.

  • gunslinger6

    Go Navy!- The sad thing is, we will start to hear about it happening, and I will bet “dollars to donuts” that a rifile will be found with these scopes on it. The CEO’s need to have their kids sent to the sand box, and we will see if they sell there top of the line thermal scopes to a country we all now supports the Taliban and hates the USA.

  • Ricco

    So we know for a fact that Myers’ accusations are correct? I think there is more to this story that will come out.

    • Riceball

      Regardless of whether Meyer’s accusations are correct it was still wrong of his supervisor to sabotage his chances of getting a job at another company (even if it is a rival company) by saying that he had mental problems and problems with alcohol abuse. If he did have such problems then why weren’t these issues made known until he left his job instead of just firing him outright?

  • Okki

    @marine23, glad to hear someone is understanding the civilian side of things. If he doesn’t agree with his employer, he has the full right to seek employment elsewhere. if he uses unacceptable means of discussing the matter with his co-workers or boss, than the company is in it’s full right to terminate his employment and use the “would not be hired back” response when solicited for a reference (which he would have had to give approval for to be solicited from BAE).

    I’m thankful for his actions and service, but this sounds to me like an attempt for a cheap way out of a bad decision that he made himself. Sorry buddy; you made a bad decision; now take responsibility for it.

  • Great article Bill! You are on point, as usual!

  • Kyle

    It is rather disturbing that such sophisticated technology can end up in the wrong hands. Many bag things can happen if this tech is used against us or otherwise sold to other parties who do not share our interests…

  • J

    First off Meyer wasn’t using his MOH status as some sort of publicity bonus for his employers to use. His boss at BAE specifically mentions “Meyers upcoming hero status” or something along those lines. So he hadn’t even been awarded the medal when this went down.

    Secondly, even if an employer has negative things to say about an employee there are better ways to handle than blatantly calling him a drunk and questioning his sanity. If Meyer really has problems would it be difficult for his former boss to say something like, “although Sgt. Meyer and the company have differing views we wish him the best. Before hiring we recommend that he sees a doctor concerning his mental health.” **** I would hate for his employer to treat a soldier with respect and tact.

  • Fools

    Over 15 trillion dollars in debt and you idiots still want to keep everything to ourselves? Let’s take a look at Russia – selling to enemies and their allies alike. Their economy? Better than ours. The amount of people? 100,000,000 +. Their weapon exports is number 2 in the world. We’re number 1 but that shouldn’t be.

    We have to SELL PEOPLE. Anyone remember the lend-lease program? Stay neutral, gtfo these wars, and start selling.

    Countries want our stuff, let’s give it to them and lower our debt.

  • Preston
  • Ben

    Oh calm down will you? Governments have been doing this sort of thing for hundreds of years. It isn’t going to stop because one man doesn’t like it.

  • Brando

    Indeed, the Soldier Systems post Preston links to is the one reasonable, objective look at this situation in a see of emotional jumping to uninformed conclusions.

  • Dave

    I thinks it’s safe to say the sight they are selling is the PAS-13. To all those saying the Army doesn’t buy them:

    I agree with the write up but the fact is this is legal under ITAR. I think this is a result of poor corporate governance. But it’s also our fault as investors who push companies to meet quarterly earnings. In this case the regs were morally insufficient so who should we really blame, State, BAE or both?

    BTW, this is a question and not me pontificating.

  • BeenThereToo

    I can’t believe BAE is doing this to a MOH winner. But then again I’m not surprised that corporate greed and profits trump corproate ethics either. Nor am I surprised that his immediate supervior – sadly a former marine – no doubt with corporate HR backing – went after him as soon as he complained / questioned the pending sale of advanced optics to Pakistan. That is simply the way they operate and are taught to handle a lot of legitmate complaints raised by employees. Very sad indeed. Go get them Marine.

  • Mike

    Who cares if BAE’s claims are true! Is it true that BAE thinks Pakistan deserves state of the art equipment? That’s all I need to hear….go to **** BAE!!!

  • Anne

    This goes on all the time. We are selling all kinds of technology to China, Pakistan, and other countries who may not necessarily mean well, at least not over the long term. Kudos to Dakota Meyer for using his not inconsiderable clout to call BAE out for trying to do this. And they aren’t going to get away with maligning this guy’s character.

  • Odin

    Really Devil? The guy won’t take the presidents call during work hours, and he’s a ******* with a drinking problem who is unfit? Funny how instead of taking your brother in arms side you come here and leave a comment condemning him.

    • marine23

      im not “commending” anyone. i was not there and did not see the truth. all i know id that a medal does/should not give him a higher status. if he is what they say, then they have to report it. and i said IF…. and do not call me a devil.

  • Jimbo

    You’ve hit the nail on the head- DoS “thought” it would be a good idea. DoS has been working to undermine all efforts of the DoD for the past 10 years.

  • deimos

    You forgot about the part in which the US gives various factions in the Af-Pak region lots and lots of money to buy all that foreign weaponry, including from the US itself.

  • OldAirdale

    If anyone here can exactly quantify the requirements for the Medal of Honor as opposed to say, the Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Cross or Silver Star, I’ll listen to their wailing about the whole Foreign Military Sales approval process and what part Sergeant Meyer should play in it. Otherwise, I will just consider Sergeant Meyer to be a very brave man who is caught up in a matter of conscience. In my opinion, those qualities that cause one to go “above and beyond,” often cause one to “shoot from the heart or gut” without timely consideration of all of the ramifications of one’s actions. Of course, based upon my personal combat experience, I can tell you that most situations are very fast paced and do not allow for a great deal of intellectualizing. Plus, you gain a whole new perspective on your actions in combat when a bullet passes so close to your ear that you can hear it “sizzle.”

  • Mark

    He wasn’t fired. He quit in protest. The issue is that BAE then told someone (probably the COTR – the governement’s representative for the contract) that Meyer is unstable and has a drinking problem. This, in turn, prevented Meyer from getting a job with another contractor on the same project.

    So, the first thing to determine is if it true that he is unstable and has a drinking problem. Did BAE have him tested? Did BAE document any issues? Then we have to find out if the people who told the COTR had the authority to do so.

    It’s one thing for a British company to sell products that it has the legal right to, to Pakistan (an “allie” of dubious reliability). Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It’s another thing to try to besmirch the reputation of someone based on unthruths.

  • 0311 vet

    Marines screwing other Marines?

    Not surprising. Band of brothers my butt….

    Good for Myer it’s just a shame he was punished for having a conscious and not accepting crap.

  • Very interesting story. In the spirit of starting a bit of $#!t (and with all due respect): the author is selling Hatch (a BAE brand) on his website…

  • majrod

    A lot of deserved ire at BAE.

    GE is an American company. Do some research about what they sold to Iran and China.

    Just saying let’s not limit our anger to BAE.

  • KillKillKill

    HOLD ON NOW!!! I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Marine23 isn’t even a Marine. “Don’t call me Devil?” That statement leaves me to believe that you’re unfamiliar with the term. And if you really are, you would know that that is a compliment! If not, quit posing!! As far as FormerSFMedic is concerned, do I smell jealousy?! I think I smell another poser!! A real 18D would not imply that a MOH recipient is hyping up his “Combat” to gain attention. Let me tell you two wannabe’s something, the MOH isn’t given away as easily as you two claim your titles over the internet! In fact, I know Dakota personally and he didn’t want anything to do with the medal when the discussion was raised. I his words, “this medal won’t bring my brothers back.” Also, if you two were combat vet’s, you’d know that selling thermal’s of any sort to those who “sleep with the enemy” especially in A-Stan, is a stab in the back. I have a suggestion for you. Stop posing, go see a recruiter and join the Army because you need bullets flying at you to wake you up to the real world!!!


    My two cents for a $5 topic. I am trying to figure out why he is sueing which yeah I do kind of understand the slander offense. However, in the civilian world you put down references for past employment and you tend to put down people who will speak highly of you. Did Dakota put his former boss down knowing that there was bad blood between them? I do not agree with sending anything to Pakistan unless it is High Explosives dropped from our fixed wing aircraft but that isn’t the issue (It should be an issue). I work in the contracting world along with being in the military and it took some adjusting to get used to it and the mindset. I need more info before I pass my judgement. If he needs a job I will shoot his resume to the company I work for.

  • Sir,
    Thank you for your courage to present this info to the veteran community. As a recent inductee to veteran status (3yrs ago), i’m mystified why our esteemed government agency, the VA, has not issued a statement of at least ethical or principled support on behalf of our brother & hero of our nation. Lawsuit or not, ethics or principles do not waiver under fire. Dakota didn’t. It would be my honor to voice my support to this hero and to yourself for your public stance. Ooorah & semper fi. Larry Lasky, US Navy SEAL (ret)

  • Jimbo

    Government sets out export restrictions so could block the sale if it really was a matter of national security. And in any case government agencies have been brokering arms to countries like PAK for years – who arguably havent exactly invaded US soil now have they. so get off your high horse.

    With regards to the ethics of discrediting a soldier – these tactics are pretty discusting. Hopefully sgt Meyer will get decent compensation, and if i were bae i would throw in one of those imagers too… Just incase the Pakistanis come over the mexican border any time soon

  • This is a SNAFU. One had doesn’t know what the other it doing. The government will always default to saying yes you can sell that stuff so they look like friends, but it is up to the companies to decide if they should. The spokes person trying to blame the US government is the crap our world is turning into.

    It took over a decade to learn one simple truth, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    Modern Self Protection

  • Not so fast
  • Not so fast
  • Not so fast

    Wasn’t a recipient until much after he chose to leave BAE right? He resigned from BAE in May….

    He seems to have trouble getting his stories in line…