US Military Spending: A Black Hole

The U.S. Department of Defense received more than $560 billion from taxpayers last year …  but don’t ask its leaders how they spent that money. They can’t tell you … Sure, we know about the huge price tags associated with totally unnecessary projects like the Littoral Combat Ship. And we know…

The U.S. Department of Defense received more than $560 billion from taxpayers last year …  but don’t ask its leaders how they spent that money.

They can’t tell you …

Sure, we know about the huge price tags associated with totally unnecessary projects like the Littoral Combat Ship. And we know about the massive waste and inefficiency of its F-35 program. And we know about the money spent on instantly obsolete command centers and al-Qaeda affiliated contractors in Afghanistan.

And of course there’s the much broader expense associated with our failed “War on Terror” – which could wind up costing taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-6 trillion by the time it’s all said and done.

We may never know the true cost, though … because the Defense Department is guilty of a “chronic failure to keep track of its money – how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen.”

At least that’s the conclusion of a new special investigative report by Reuters.

“In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date,” the report noted. “It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.”

Reuters’ probe also discovered that the Pentagon has spent “tens of billions of dollars” in  an effort to upgrade its systems, but “many of these new systems have failed, either unable to perform all the jobs they were meant to do or scrapped altogether – only adding to the waste they were meant to stop.”

Astounding …

The Reuters’ report also highlights how Defense Department officials routinely sign off on falsified reports to get billions of dollars in “unsupported adjustments” to “make balances agree” with U.S. Treasury Department figures.

And yes … that’s the same sort of data manipulation private sector executives can go to jail for under the terms of Sarbanes-Oxley, the law passed by Congress in the wake of the Enron accounting scandal.

Ironic, isn’t it?

America’s military budget is out of control – a testament to the unsustainable cost associated with our government’s failed interventionist foreign policy. But it’s also one big bloody mess – which is inexcusable no matter what your views on foreign policy may be.

It’s also worth remembering when Pentagon leaders – and their apologists on Capitol Hill – complain about modest reductions in military spending.

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Smirks November 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Littoral Combat Ship… Ahh, just one letter away from some lucky bastard being the “Clittoral Commander.”


Frank Pytel November 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

That’s exactly what I read. GAWD DAMNED CELL PHONES.

southmauldin November 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm

And this surprises you?? Defense has always been a black hole for $$$$$. Vote to cut it, and you are weak and hate America. Vote to increase it and you’re Mr. Tough Guy Senator.

Smirks November 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Vote to cut it, and you are weak and hate America. Vote to increase it and you’re Mr. Tough Guy Senator.

I’m Lindsey Graham and I approve this message.

CorruptionInColumbia November 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Yet they talk of cutting benefits for our service men and women and military retirees. This stinks to high Heaven and back.

The military budget needs serious cutting and Fits has outlined quite a few areas such cuts would be appropriate and should be made. I’m sure there are many, many, more. Breaking promises to people who have had their bodies, minds, and lives, maimed by military service is wrong, as it also is for those who managed to make it through a lifetime of dedication to their career and country without some of the more severe effects. We need to cut back on unnecessary toys and expenses, not on promises to current and former service members.

Quit minting so many new casualties in so many unnecessary wars which our government has no intent of letting them ever win, and we will also cut expenses. Send the war mongers like McCain and Graham to fight if they feel these wars are so necessary.

sweepin November 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Please to provide the specific cuts you reference that FITS has “outlined.” All I ever see is contrived, controversial, or bullshit protestations and lamentations that give new meaning to the term tilting at windmills.

CorruptionInColumbia November 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm

If I have to explain it any further, you wouldn’t understand, anyway.

Frank Pytel November 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

No doubt that there is much that could be cut, but I can’t see blaming the military for much. F35, Abrahms last and the year before, Navy rail gun (confirm please) these are all pork. Pentagon repeatedly said no more. I blame Grahmnesty, McPain and their ilk 100%.

CNSYD November 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I have always wanted Sic Willie to analyze threats, design defense systems, oversee contractors, account for billions in funds, pay soldiers, provide housing for the military and their dependents, etc. With all his expertise I know he can handle it, can’t he?

Original Good Old Boy November 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm

What threats? You mean those that threaten Israel or our “interests” in the middle east?
I’d say the actual threats against us can be handled at a fraction of the cost we are spending.

CNSYD November 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I assume you have been party to all available intel in order to offer such a learned opinion.

Vanguard16 November 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm Reply
EJB November 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

Thanks to 0bama and his oozing surrender of America’s military superiority we are headed to an era of threat the like of which we have not seen before. There is an awful lot of waste in the military, I’ve seen a bunch of it myself, and even the military doesn’t want some of these weapons systems that congress crams down their throats. Some of the weapons systems are designed to have pieces and parts made in as many different states as possible so that there are more congressmen voting to keep them going. So, yes, find the waste , fraud and abuse and eliminate it. However, use the savings to build the military to withstand the coming threat.

During the cold war the US military planning was to stave off the Soviet Union. We had smarter tanks because we couldn’t build as many as they could. We built bases around the world to be able to counter wherever they went. We brought an end to the cold war and the threats to America changed. Military planners saw these emerging threats and developed a two war strategy and that is what we ended up with, Afghanistan and Iraq. We learned during that period that our military wasn’t quite up to snuff and congress authorized an increase in strength for the Army and the Marines. Now that Iraq has wound down and Afghanistan is winding down everyone thinks we can just pull in our horns, go home and play nice? Hardly, what we don’t do now, as far as preparing our military for future threats, we will surely wish we had.

JC November 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Are you kidding me? About one-fifth of our total budget and over one-half of our discretionary budget is spent on the military. We spend 6 to 7 times more than the Chinese on our military, who is second in expenditures, and more than the next twenty countries after China combined. After WW2, it was the Communists. Now it’s the terrorists. Instead of fomenting Islamic radicalism by involving ourselves in conflicts in which we have no right to intervene, perhaps we should let the Arabs control their own destiny, even if it means seeing that region of the world devolve into an 8th century theocracy. Our arrogance in thinking that we can somehow foist secular, representative government to a region that has never really embraced such an ideology has already cost us too much, in terms of lives and money. It should be obvious that our inability to cut military spending, combined with the blood thirst of many in this country who love to see us in perpetual war, are two substantial contributing factors to our $17 trillion debt.

EJB November 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

ALL military spending since 2001 would barely equal a half of the national debt. You need to find another donkey to pin that one on.

Would you rather the US had not done anything about the communists trying to take over the world? I imagine you don’t believe they were, you probably believe they were just taking what was theirs.

Go ahead and stick your head back in the sand, other people will save your ass when the time comes.

JJ November 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I don’t think it’s because the arrogant powers that be love to see us in war for its own sake. It’s a giant money-maker for the privately-run military/industrial complex that has the US government’s taxpayers in a stranglehold. These wars are generated to keep the money flowing to prime military contractors (eg. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. but we went there anyway which keeps fat contracts going to Halliburton, etc.).

It’s all about the money. Follow the money.

Col. Nathan R. Jessup November 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Budgets and Taxes and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that our defense budget, while tragic and wasteful, saves lives and bureaucrat jobs. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves those lives! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like “honor”, “code”, “loyalty” “budget” “Defense spending” . We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something and an epitaph to budget talks about the debt ceiling. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I pay for it! I would rather you just said “thank you”, and went on your way, paid your taxes and offered me free Applebees on Veterans day. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

TontoBubbaGoldstein November 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

Did you order the Code Red?

Col. Nathan R. Jessup November 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm

You’re Goddam Right I Did.

JJ November 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I need to make extra money and US military expenditures seem like a very large trough to feast upon. Can anyone point me in the right direction to get started in military contracting (even on a small civilian level to start)?


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