Pentagon Wastes Billions on Weapons, Considers Cutting Soldier Pay and Benefits
On the same day that Reuters released a damning report detailing years of accounting fraud and waste at the Pentagon, top military officials announced they are considering cutting pay and benefits for soldiers to deal with the budget cuts the Defense Department has seen and expects to see.
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters this week that military brass is considering proposing a Pentagon budget that would cut soldier pay raises and promotions while also limiting benefits for housing, education, and health. All of those aspects have long been the prized features that entice young men and women to enlist in the armed forces and have always been spared from budget cuts.
To make matters worse, the news comes at the same time as a scandalous Reuters investigation that details what the Pentagon calls “standard accounting procedure.” The report showed that the Pentagon has no way to account for where all of its $566 billion budget is appropriated and have long been making up numbers to plug in where there is missing data. The report notes that the entire Defense Department has spent $8.5 trillion since 1996 yet has never completed an annual audit as required by law.
Perhaps the most damning finding was that the Defense Logistics Department, which buys all of the weapons and supplies for the military, can’t keep track of all the supplies and order thousands of things they already bought. According to the report, in one instance, the DLA had a 14-year supply of vehicular control arms (part of the suspension of a military vehicle) yet bought an additional 7,437 more over the last two years. Of course, overspending and poor accounting practices are just the newest revelations in the way the defense budget is misspent.
Last year, top military personnel looked to end the Abrams Tank program. The military has thousands of tanks just parked in the desert and have been getting a steady supply since World War II. Despite generals looking to cut the program, Congress lobbied the Pentagon to keep the program because it employs 16,000 people. Similarly, the Pentagon has been unable to stop the F-35 stealth bomber program despite already having 2,443 in stock (at a cost of $390 billion) and seeing plenty of quality issues with the jets.
(Image courtesy of Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)