There’s so much going on in Washington DC but does any of it really get to the heart of the matter? Yesterday the impeachment word was openly spoken from the House floor and on television. The issue, as I’ve stated, is we have a plethora of speculation circulating around very nebulous investigations. All that currently exists are “convictions looking for evidence,” and it appears many are running with this…God knows it’s all the media is ranting about. However, the world continues to turn as our elected officials are totally distracted and being drawn off what is important to the American people — reform of our tax policy and healthcare system to spur economic growth. There’s also another critical issue that must be resolved: rebuilding our military capability and capacity. It’s one thing to say you want to increase military spending, but to what end?
As reported by The Atlantic, “The Pentagon will spend the next several months gearing up for a mission so complicated that many officials doubt it can be pulled off, an undertaking so immense that the military hasn’t once dared to try it before.
No, this isn’t a story about deploying a fancy new weapon, or unveiling a new aircraft, or launching a military operation of any kind: The Department of Defense is preparing for its first-ever audit. That the nation’s most sprawling and expensive bureaucracy—and the world’s largest employer—has yet to undergo a formal, legally mandated review of its finances is a source of embarrassment among budget watchdogs, and it has become a preoccupation for members of Congress intent on demonstrating their fiscal prudence even as they appropriate more than $600 billion annually to the Pentagon.
The lack of formal accountability has left unanswered basic questions about how the military spends taxpayer money, like the precise number of employees and contractors its various branches have hired. Cost overruns have become legendary, none more so than the F-35 fighter-jet program that has drawn the ire of President Trump. And partial reports suggest that the department has misspent or not accounted for anywhere from hundreds of billions to several trillion dollars.
No, this isn’t a story about deploying a fancy new weapon, or unveiling a new aircraft, or launching a military operation of any kind: The Department of Defense is preparing for its first-ever audit.
That the nation’s most sprawling and expensive bureaucracy—and the world’s largest employer—has yet to undergo a formal, legally mandated review of its finances is a source of embarrassment among budget watchdogs, and it has become a preoccupation for members of Congress intent on demonstrating their fiscal prudence even as they appropriate more than $600 billion annually to the Pentagon.
The lack of formal accountability has left unanswered basic questions about how the military spends taxpayer money, like the precise number of employees and contractors its various branches have hired. Cost overruns have become legendary, none more so than the F-35 fighter-jet program that has drawn the ire of President Trump. And partial reports suggest that the department has misspent or not accounted for anywhere from hundreds of billions to several trillion dollars.After years of missed deadlines, the mounting political pressure and a renewed commitment from the Trump administration might finally result in an audit. For the first time last year, both major political parties called for auditing the Pentagon in their campaign platforms.”
True bipartisanship, but possibly for differing reasons: one party seeks fiscal responsibility, another potentially greater spending for the welfare nanny-state. Regardless, during my tenure in Congress, serving on the House Armed Services Committee, I supported a Pentagon audit. And now, as the Executive Director of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) we’ve been supportive of zero-based budgeting being incorporated at the Pentagon. I recently had a meeting with staff members of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on this very top topic.This is what I wish our media was so vehemently focused on but needless to say, Americans prefer drama and the sensational. All the while we have massive cyber attacks by North Korea and countless other major national security concerns.
Hey, I just gotta ask, if the left was so concerned with our national security and intelligence leaks, then why yesterday was Army PVT Bradley Manning released from Ft. Leavenworth prison? I mean after all he – yes, I reiterate HE — released over 700,000 classified documents resulting in loss of life and a threat to our national security — maybe if President Trump wanted to change into Donna Trump, the left would be more accepting? And to think we’re discussing an audit of the Pentagon and the progressive socialist left wants to spend $30,000 per troop suffering from a mental condition termed gender dysphoria? I don’t think the American taxpayer signed up for that one.
But the real question to ask and analyze, is how can it be that we’ve seen increases in defense spending over the years, yet we have the smallest military operational force for some services, going back to World War I? So where have these funds gone? I mean consider the stories we’ve shared of members of our armed forces having to purchase their own gear. Or the rumors about our military having to pay for their meals in the deployed combat zones. We have our men and women in uniform, in the operational forces enduring countless combat duty rotations, but we have a bloated civilian bureaucracy in the Defense Department where many just punch the 9 to 5 time clock. And ask yourself, why do we have so many defense contractors? It’s simple, because they prove to be more efficient than the government employees who cannot be terminated. But why do we have such a dearth of deployable Warriors yet we have headquarters like the Pentagon and combatant commands rife — actually booming — with personnel.
We need a bottom up review of troops to task, strategic tasks, and analyze our missions and roles across the geographic areas of responsibility. To have our troops on six and seven combat tours doesn’t just stress them, it affects their families as well. Those who are part of the defense bureaucracy in the Pentagon only have to stress about the commute traffic.
It’s encouraging to know the current Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tx), realizes we have an issue with our acquisition and procurement system. He is introducing legislation that will seek to streamline the process.
The biggest means by which we can reduce our enormous costs in acquisition and procurement is to make the defense contractor responsible for cost overruns. Also, how about we ask the men and women in uniform what they need, and not have the industry telling the military what they are selling.
We shared here the insidious story of what my Army spent on seeking a replacement sidearm for the Beretta 9mm. It was ridiculous. That is just a singular example of what is happening, and why the DoD needs an audit.
But think of this: how can it be that these Islamic terrorists are able to emplace IEDs (improvised explosive devices) along the roads? Most of this activity occurs at night, along routes that our troops travel and in the case of Afghanistan, there aren’t that many roads. Why don’t we have the adequate rotary wing assets to ensure we have air dominance during the hours of limited visibility to engage anyone on the side of a road digging? And yes, we need the rules of engagement that allows such…don’t give me that legal bovine excrement about evidence of “hostile intent.” Ain’t nobody planting a roadside bomb as a crop!
Why don’t our ground forces have the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft as a close air support asset – we’re deploying them with the Afghanistan Air Force, or more AH-6 “Mini Birds/” We retired an awesome close support reconnaissance rotary wing system called the Kiowa Warrior (OH-58D) that was perfect for ensuring roads and trails used by our ground troops stayed clear overnight. So why did we eliminate a capability without having a replacement capability? I know folks are all into whizz bang technology toys, but let me make this very clear, a determined Warrior is the best technology on the battlefield.
I could go on for pages but here’s a critical issue I wish Washington DC would focus on. It’s just sad that politics and political gimmickry “trumps” doing that which is right for the American people, American Warriors and their families. This is all happening because we have a society that allows it, that doesn’t lucidly see the blatant hypocrisy. I’m tired of hearing about James Comey, and we’ve made Vladimir Putin and the Russians to be 10 feet tall. The real giants of our Republic, the guardians, are crying for attention to be paid to them and their challenges. The longer we monkey around with the DC beltway two-step mess, the greater advantage we afford our enemies.
Let’s endeavor to get back to what is truly important…and to our liberal progressive friends, save us the unrighteous indignation about President Trump, when you said nothing about a president that promised the Russians more flexibility. Then abandoned Americans to die, while he went to bed and flew to a campaign fundraiser…and later lied about the entire ordeal.
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]