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Is the Pentagon Burning Our Money?

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News the Pentagon cannot even keep track of what America has spent on defense comes at a time when the number of homeless veterans is on the rise. The DoD is expected to release the news on a failed audit it took three decades to complete.

Despite the fact, the United States spends more on defense than Russia, China, Germany, France, India, and the UK combined; it seems a unique kind of insanity grips Americans. We’ve bases and various states of war going on all over the world, but nothing ever seems to be over. Afghanistan to Syria an alleged “war on terror” seems to either be totally unwinnable or a complete fallacy. An announcement by the National Defense Strategy Commission frames the lunacy claiming “the Defense Department isn't financially or strategically set up to wage two wars at once and could even lose a war against China or Russia individually.” Talk about bang for our bucks!

Meanwhile, reports of ongoing IT catastrophes putting veterans on streets because they could not get benefits speaks volumes about Washington’s priorities. This arsTECHNICA story tells of Vets waiting months for housing benefits on account of crappy technology used by the Veterans Administration. One GAO report from early this year found that the VA had wasted more than $1.1 billion on failed electronic medical records projects. To make matters worse, the Trump Pentagon appears to be covering up waste rather than being transparent and trying to come to grips with wasted taxpayer dollars. This Defense One story reads like the administration is attempting to create its own Army wrapped in a cloak of secrecy. And Reuters reports on the first-ever audit of the $2.7 trillion dollar defense department :

“About 1,200 auditors sharpened their pencils and pored over the Pentagon's accounting books and were able to identify discrepancies that will likely take years to resolve.”

You read that correctly. An army of bean counters marched into the Pentagon and came out scratching their heads from years of trying to figure out where all the money went. And Patrick Shanahan, the Deputy Secretary of Defense made the most ridiculous statement from a U.S. official this year saying: "The fact that we did the audit is substantial.” To make matters even worse, the Pentagon wants the American people to forget about where the trillions went, and for us to focus on doing better next time. No, I am not kidding. Shanahan went on with is genius rationale saying, "The point of the audit is to drive better discipline in our compliance with our management systems and procedures."

No sir, not for this American worried about Big Brother really taking over. The point of such an audit, after 30 years especially, is for the U.S. government to be accountable to the American people for enough cash to cure every major disease on Earth!  Somebody fire this nincompoop and put me in charge of the audit. The Washington Examiner cuts to the chase in an article entitled “The F-35, the great white whale of defense waste.” In the story by Ross Marchand, the author suggests the Pentagon accounts for half of the U.S. budget, not less than 20%, as most bureaucrats suggest. His story cites a previous Vanity Fair’s Adam Ciralsky expose which called the F-35 program:

“... politically engineered” program was "designed to spread money so far and so wide — at last count, among some 1,400 separate subcontractors, strategically dispersed among key congressional districts — that no matter how many cost overruns, blown deadlines, or serious design flaws, it would be immune to termination.”

But the F-35 is a cheap toy airplane compared to the $21 trillion Michigan State University economist Mark Skidmore says he discovered in wasteful spending over a 20 year period. Skidmore said the "biggest chunk" of unaccountable spending came from the US Army, with $11.5 trillion in possible misappropriations discovered over thirteen years. You read correctly, throw in the F-35 and that’s over $12 trillion smackers we could have spent on everything from feeding Africa to building roads and housing the homeless at home. People are just immune to the numbers these days, but 12,000 billion dollars is enough to buy Brazil and then some.

Let me just run through some of the numbers from the U.S. budget even before Marine General Mad Dog Mattis and his boss Donald Trump took the reins of the Pentagon. In 2015 U.S. defense spending accounted for about 54% of the entire budget. By comparison, only $70 billion (6%) was spent on education, $66 billion went to Medicare and health (6%), international affairs (4%), veterans benefits (6%), and social security and unemployment accounted for a measly 3%. What makes this ungodly waste even more ludicrous is the fact it is getting worse instead of better. Take the 2018 budget number of $1.2 billion to send troops BACK to Afghanistan. A war we already wasted trillions on just to lose, is still a priority for Trump? And let’s not forget the president’s Space Corps!

Let me finish this report off by pointing out that at the start of the 20th century, American defense spending averaged about one percent of GDP. This number spiked to about 22 percent at the end of World War I, before falling back to about 1 - 2 percent in the 1920s. Even at the height of World War II, our defense spending was only about 41 percent of GDP. Then, at the height of the Reagan defense buildup, spending stood at 6.8 percent of GDP, dropping down to about 3.5% after the fall of the Soviet Union. Next came 9/11 and a substantial increase in two stages. First, to 4.6 percent by 2005 for the invasion of Iraq, and then to 5.0 percent in 2008 for the “surge” in Iraq. And second, to almost 6% with the increased effort in Afghanistan in 2011.

Currently, we have over 170,000 service personnel serving in 150 countries around the world, and almost 1 million in the states. There are almost 80,000 in Japan and Korea, nearly 70,000 in Europe, or places that need American service personnel about like they need a hole in the head. And these numbers do not include military or civilian contractors or dependents, or those serving in combat situations. What’s more, think tanks and vested interests like Rand Corporation are recommending even bigger expenditures. I’ll leave you with this intro to a Rand report entitled, “Is the USAF Flying Force Large Enough?”

“The U.S. military has mostly operated at a high operational tempo since the end of the Cold War, and there appears to be no significant reduction in demand on the horizon.”

These psychopaths are projecting “future demands” for warfighters as they would the potential market for oranges or t-shirts. So, I guess we can count on cancer or hunger never being cured, and on never being able to buy all the trees in Brazil? What do you think?

Author: Winston Smith