The U.S. Department of Defense is, by a considerable margin, the largest discretionary element of our national budget. In 2015, it amounts to more than 55% of total discretionary spending.1
WC doesn’t want to be accused of wanting to short-sheet our national defense, but it’s presently larger in total dollars than the ten next biggest other countries’ budgets combined.
The size of the expenditure is bad enough. But what’s truly shocking is the utter unaccountability, mismanagement and waste.
Reuters wrote a scathing, damning story back in 2013. Despite the absence of any audits or accountability by the Department of Defense since the middle 1990s, Reuters was able to document billions of dollars in waste, utterly fraudulent accounting processes and horrible harm to the soldiers the Department is supposed to serve.
How bad is it? Reuters reported:
The Navy, in a footnote in its 2012 financial report, “acknowledges that it has a material internal control weakness in that it does not reconcile its” numbers with the Treasury’s. The footnote said the Navy inserts inaccurate numbers in its monthly reports so that they agree with the Treasury’s. It said it is working with DFAS to try to eliminate the problems.
The Army and the Air Force do the same thing. It’s institutionalized accounting fraud, but it’s the Department of Defense, so they get away with it. The results are predicable: massive criminal fraud, vast cost overruns, gross mismanagement of supplies and deeply entrenched bureaucracy.
Did you know that the Army still stockpiles rifles that haven’t been used since World War II? Or had a 14-year supply of some 15,000 “vehicular control arms” for the military’s Humvees were in stock as of November 2008, yet from 2010 through 2012, the Army bought 7,437 more of them — at prices considerably higher than it paid for the thousands sitting on its shelves?
From $18 million embezzlement schemes to $1 million in charges for strip joints and casinos, every rock that investigators turn over has fraud under it. The Department of Defense has 2,200 different computers systems, utterly incapable of communicating among themselves, programmed in COBOL, God help us, they use to attempt to track this stuff. And fail. Billions of dollars have been spent to upgrade the system, almost completely unsuccessfully.
Even Fox News has noticed.
There’s no question there is billions of dollars of waste, perhaps more than a trillion over the last two decades. No one is likely to ever know for sure. The books are that boogered.
Now budget sequestration is cutting in, forcing the Pentagon to make $1 trillion worth of cuts over a 10-year period. The Pentagon is screaming like a stuck pig. The Republican majorities in both houses of Congress are divided on whether the sequestration should proceed so long as the Department of Defense remains unaccountable.
There are very real threats to our national safety, and clowns incapable of balancing their checkbook are in charge of our defense. Yes, you should be concerned.
- Thanks to D.Y. for the idea for this post. ↩