NOVEMBER 27, 2012
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for protecting national security and providing military forces to deter war, yet it blows tens of billions of dollars on preposterous things unrelated to its mission.
A variety of unimaginable examples are featured in a baffling report (“Department of Everything”) published this month by a Republican U.S. Senator, who asserts the Pentagon could easily save around $70 billion over ten years without cutting any Army brigade combat teams, Navy combat ships or Air Force fighter squadrons. It could be done simply by getting rid of the waste, according to the findings.
That’s because the DOD has a monstrous $629 billion annual budget and a chunk goes to dubious projects that are tough to justify as defense expenses. For instance, the senator’s probe reveals that the Pentagon funded $6 billion in studies that have little or nothing to do with national defense or medical needs related to military service.
Here is an example of where defense dollars are going; an anthropologist at a public California university got $681,387 to examine whether men holding pistols are viewed as taller, stronger and more masculine than those wielding objects such as saws, paint brushes and caulking guns. For the record, guys with guns do in fact appear bigger, stronger and more masculine, the study found.
Another good one involves fish. For $5.2 million researchers at an Ivy League university found that golden shiner fish could show the nation how to overcome political polarization and promote democracy. The Office of Naval Research spent $450,000 to study how babies interact with robots. The DOD also burned $700 million on “duplicative and unnecessary alternative energy” projects and $1.5 million to create its own brand of beef jerky treats.
The Pentagon also spends more than $9 billion to operate 254 grocery stores throughout the United States to benefit military retirees. Most of the stores, known as commissaries, are actually located just blocks from major chain grocery stores. The money spent on these questionable projects could fund a third of the planned fleet of new strategic Air Force bombers, according to the Oklahoma senator, Tom Coburn, who exposed the waste.
“I prepared this report because the American people expect the Pentagon’s $600 billion annual budget to go toward our nation’s defense,” Coburn said in a statement posted on his official website. “That isn’t happening. Billions of defense dollars are being spent on programs and missions that have little or nothing to do with national security, or are already being performed by other government agencies.”
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