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The Link: Silicon Valley and Iraq

Montalvo Arts Center

Silicon Valley and its technological innovations have an intimate and direct relationship with the ongoing conflict in Iraq. From how the war is fought to how individuals learn about events taking place, the reach of this relationship has personal, financial, and strategic implications.

The Lap Top War

The vast majority of information on Iraq is available on the internet. Blogging, by soldiers stationed in Iraq, by journalists, and by ordinary citizens has provided instant and personalized perspectives on the war. Independently generated outside of traditional news media outlets, these individual narratives have formed a substantial catalogue of information in addition to creating virtual relationships with readers. User-generated and accessed information has also led to significant discoveries that may have never otherwise surfaced (such as the cell phone pictures that ignited the Abu Ghraib investigation). New technologies are not solely the tools of citizen-based media; nearly all major news outlets rely on commercial satellite technology, videophones, cellular telephones, and other technologies.

For more information and examples of user-generated media and literature visit

How We Fight

Advanced technologies are integral to creating state-of-the-art systems and building capacity for military and security use. Military use of these locally developed technologies has had a substantial economic impact on the companies involved.  Below are a few examples of how local technologies are currently used by the military:


-Lockheed Martin Space Systems, based in Sunnyvale, is part of Lockheed Martin (the world’s largest weapons contractor and arms exporter) and has nearly 7,000 employees. A $3.3 billion contract from the US military to develop the next generation of combat military satellites is being carried out at the Sunnyvale-based facility. The new project, called "Warfighter," will be one of the military's two major satellite communications systems to be deployed in the next decade. (Silicon Valley business Journal, October 1, 2004)

-BAE Systems, which operates a plant in Santa Clara, received a $31.9 million contract from the US Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command to better protect US M 113 armored personnel carriers, and soldiers who ride in them, on the battlefields of Iraq. (Silicon Valley Business Journal, August 31, 2005)  

-Mountain View-based Pemstar Pacific Consultants is part of General Dynamics’ $60 million contract to update Land Warrior system, a project that aims to incorporate functions like night vision, radio, protective clothing, navigation and positioning systems, weapons guidance and other components into one piece of equipment that soldiers wear like a uniform. (Contra Costa Times, May 1, 2003)

-Savi Technology, a Mountain View-based firm, received a $424.5 million contract from the Department of Defense for use of its Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) products and services, used to track supplies and materials for the war in Iraq. (TechWeb Technology News, February 13, 2006)

-Environmental Chemical Corporation, based in Burlingame, was awarded a contract in February 2004 by the Department of Defense for munitions disposal and related services, including assisting the army with ammunition retrieval from opposing fighters in Iraq. The contract is worth up to $1.475 billion. (The Center for Public Integrity, 2007)

-ShotSpotter, a Mountain View-based startup, developed the technology used to make it one of the world’s leading supplier of gunshot detection systems. Their new wireless systems, capable of warning soldiers of enemy snipers within moments of the first shot, have been deployed to Iraq and are able to identify everything from bottle rockets to rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices. (Silicon Valley Business Journal, May 27th, 2005)

To read a transcript of a report on technology companies and their impact on the war visit For more information on the link between Bay Area companies, finance, and Iraq visit