When it comes to military spending, our defense budget is astronomical. The United States spends as much as the next nine countries combined on the military. Part of the reason that is, is probably because we are wasting a huge amount of money in a lot of different ways. If you take a soft look at the budget and how it’s used, even you can start to see that our budget is disturbingly overinflated. That inflation is coming from massive waste.
How the defense budget works
The United States defense budget is broken down into three separate categories. The first is the base budget which is the largest chunk of our defense budget totaling $597.1 billion for 2018.
Then there is the budget for overseas contingency operations which is used by the department of defense to fight ISIS. OCO costs an additional $88.9 billion.
And finally, you have to fund all of the other defense agencies associated with the security of our country: Homeland Security, the State Department, FBI, National Nuclear Security Administration, CIA, etc, etc. They and some other side programs fill out the rest of the budget.
All in all, the 2018 defense budget will top out at $886 billion. That is more than double what it was in 2003 when we went to war with Iraq.
Next: The Department of Defense knows they are wasting a lot of that money.
The DoD tried to bury an internal report of waste
In 2015, The Washington Post discovered a report that showed how the DoD was wasting nearly $125 billion dollars due to bureaucratic waste. In the report, they identified a clear path forward that would bring the defense budget down by 15-20 percent. According to the Washington Post’s sources, the report was buried amid fears that it would lead Congress to cut their budget even further.
Next: What they are wasting your money on should infuriate you.
Bloated project costs
The military has some of the most awesome research projects ever conceived. From the Stealth Bomber to Rail Guns and all the stuff we don’t know about, they make some pretty cool stuff. But all that cool stuff comes at a huge cost and is almost never on budget.
Take the Littoral Combat Ship program. Aside from it being a “grossly excessive” vessel, it also has a very bad rating from the Government Accountability Office. On top of all of that, they also break down often, as this report from CNN shows.
Other projects include the F-35 program, the EA-18G Growler program, and F/A-18 Super Hornets. These weapons systems are extremely cool and groundbreaking, but in the end, they are just too expensive and rarely work properly.
Next: CEO’s are the real winners of these projects.
CEO’s are siphoning off money
The military spends a ridiculous amount of its budget on civilian contractors. In 2016, the DoD awarded over $300 billion in defense contracts. $100 billion of that went to just five companies: Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gruman, and General Dynamics.
If you’re saying “good for them”, you’re right. The CEO’s of those companies took home a combined $100 million in pay that was partly subsidized by your tax dollars. And if you think that all that spending is creating jobs, the evidence doesn’t support that claim.
Next: Defense spending is actually terrible for job creation.
The military industrial complex does very little for job growth
In 2011, the University of Massachusetts released a study by economists that showed that defense spending is the worst at creating jobs. If we were to spend that much money on infrastructure, health care or any other area of purview that the government has, we would create twice as many jobs. If you want more jobs and therefore a stronger economy, defense spending might not be the best way to do it.
Next: There are hundreds of billions at stake and no one knows how to track any of it.
They’re terrible book-keepers
The military has no need to be financially responsible for how they spend their budget. They ask for the money, which Congress is more than happy to fork over, and you are forced to pay for it. The only problem is that the military has almost zero financial institutions, nor does it have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain an accurate assessment of their books.
When it comes to fraud, waste, and abuse, there’s really no telling how much is lost in the cracks along the way. At least, not until there is a complete audit of the entire military and its contractors.
Next: They literally threw hard money away … in the billions.
The military lost $12 billion in hard cash
During the Iraq War, the U.S. sent over cold hard cash to be used in the transition effort. $12 billion in cash. The cash was used to pay local authorities, contractors, mosques, and informants. But during that time, no one accounted for any of the money or where the heck it went. The military was literally giving money away to anyone they thought might have a modicum of usefulness.
That was just for Iraq. Imagine what they did in Afghanistan and other conflict zones we’ve been involved in in the past.
Next: The last area of waste is literally staring you in the face.
The military spends a lot on marketing
The U.S. military is no longer a conscription military. All soldiers under the DoD are all volunteers. In order to get those volunteers, the military does need to do some marketing. The Airforce, for instance, has been heavily involved in sponsoring NASCAR racers since 2000. The military also pays hundreds of thousands for “paid patriotism” at sporting events across all five major leagues.
It’s one thing to set up flyers, billboards, or ads on a website, it’s another to waste money on these ineffective marketing tactics according to a report issued by John McCain and Jeff Flake on those practices.
Next: Even if the military wanted to make some cuts in spending, Congress won’t let them.
The DoD is forced to keep useless bases and maintain them
As was the tradition for a long to time in order to trim the budget, bases that became obsolete or redundant were closed down. But in 2013, when President Obama was attempting to do just that, Republicans put a stop to it.
Under the Budget Act of 2013, any future military base closings were blocked. Congressional leaders are afraid of losing those jobs in their community under the impression that it will affect their local economy. However, we have already gone over how that is not the case.
Next: There are some very simple measures to fix this systemic problem that is wasting hundreds of billions.
These 3 things can fix the military waste
- End bureaucratic waste: Congress should take the advice in the Pentagon report detailing areas in which it could save money.
- Make the DoD more efficient: The DoD could do this by reducing its civilian workforce.
- End the sequestration: Allow the military to close bases that are redundant or obsolete like Guantanamo Bay which costs near $500 billion annually.
Ultimately, we are the ones who are in control of our military budget. That is because we elect the people to office who organize that budget. The only thing to do is to vote the people out that enable this amount of waste.
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