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Pentagon Tells Congress: Stop Giving Us What We Don’t Need

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When even the Secretary of Defense asks for cuts to the Department of Defense, it’s time to make those cuts. In a response to a letter to Defense Secretary Hagel from Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and eleven other Representatives, Comptroller Robert Hale asked Congress for help as the DoD seeks “to hold down defense costs while also meeting national security needs.”

In the April 19 letter, the bipartisan group of Representatives told Secretary Hagel they support his pledge to “reshape the Department of Defense to better reflect 21st century threats and fiscal realities.” They reference a call from fifteen former senior national security officials dubbed the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security to assess ways Congress and the Administration can make smart cuts to the defense budget. Also citing overwhelming public opinion in favor of reducing Pentagon spending, the Members applauded Secretary Hagel’s leadership on the issue.

Hale’s response outlines cuts the DoD has already made—reductions in military modernization, force structure, personnel costs, and overhead expenditures—and what it’s doing now to address fiscal constraints. Specifically, he asks these Members of Congress to support DoD’s proposed cuts. Lower-priority weapons programs and lower-priority military force structure are two areas he mentions to illustrate his point:

In recent years, Congress has denied a number of our proposals, including the elimination of lower-priority weapons programs (i.e., Global Hawk Block 30) and elimination of lower-priority military force structure (including Navy ships and Air Force aircraft). Congress has also rejected some of our proposals to slow the growth in military compensation and benefit costs, including certain proposed increases in fees and co-pays for military retiree health care. Congress has also so far rejected our efforts to pursue consolidation of our infrastructure, which will lead to large long-term savings. We hope that, in view of the serious fiscal problems facing the Department of Defense and our nation, Congress will allow us to implement these and other important efficiencies.

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing last month, Secretary Hagel addressed specific programs the DoD has been trying—unsuccessfully—to cut, such as seven Aegis cruisers and two amphibious ships that should be retired at the end of FY 2014, and more than 70 National Guard and Reserve aircraft that are no longer needed to maintain national security. With such large price tags attached to each defense system, the question seems obvious—why does Congress keep funding programs the Pentagon doesn’t want?

Pork-barrel politics, of course, seems to be the answer—pet projects that benefit influential constituents in a Member’s district are at the heart of these seemingly nonsensical failures to cut unwanted programs.

POGO and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum have been working tirelessly to cut the fat in Pentagon spending, urging Congress to make the right choices for smarter military spending to make us safer. We are pleased to have the Pentagon reminding Congress of some of the low-hanging fruit for taxpayer savings.

Some of the programs the Pentagon doesn’t want that we think are particularly ripe for reaping savings include:

  • Army Apache helicopter (delay)
  • Army Light Utility Helicopter (reduce procurement)
  • Army Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (reduce requirement)
  • Army Unmanned Aerial Systems (revised acquisition strategy)
  • C-130 Avionics Modernization (terminate)
  • C-17 Cargo Aircraft Investment Funds (reduce excess)
  • C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft (terminate)
  • CMRR Facility (although the appropriators have gotten the message and zeroed out this boondoggle, the congressional authorizers keep trying to revive it)
  • Cruiser Modernization Program (terminate)
  • Global Hawk Block 30 (terminate)
  • Precision Tracking Space System (terminate)
  • W78/88 Life Extension Program (terminate)

These are just a few on the long list of programs and systems that could save taxpayer dollars (see our other recommendations here). Now, will Congress listen?

By: Christine Anderson
Public Policy Fellow, POGO

Christine Anderson At the time of publication Christine Anderson was a public policy fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Waste, Wasteful Defense Spending

Authors: Christine Anderson

Submitted by labman57 at: March 8, 2014
Billions of dollars are wasted each year by the Defense Department on unnecessary and extremely costly military excursions into foreign lands, security and maintenance of a bloated nuclear arsenal, and on overpriced, overrated, and unneeded military vehicles and equipment projects to satiate the needs of corporate defense contractors. Rather than simply eliminate these monies from the federal budget, we should strive for a lateral shift in spending, using these funds for desperately needed infrastructural projects at home -- including roads, highways, and bridges, fresh water distribution and power grids, high speed telecommunications, digital security, and public school building maintenance and construction.
Submitted by brownie at: June 16, 2013
You folks are just another branch of "America's Pravda". playing good cop/bad cop when it supports the goal of weakening our national defenses. Now you side with the military, Congress when other cuts are demanded. You've been at war with our ability to defend ourselves since the 1960s. PS. NICE how you slipped in the W88 warhead at the bottom of your list. Isn't this the weapon Clinton allowed to "leak" to Red China in the 90s"?
Submitted by Skyhawk Maintainer at: June 7, 2013
Stop the whale killing sonar. That should be good for a few million dollars. Improve the service by merging the Air Force back into the Army and Navy. Curtis LeMay promised the Army when they became a separate service all the Army had to do was call and they would be there. Korea was the test and it was an abysmal failure, as the Air Force used over half of their tactical aircraft on strategic missions. Dad said he called them and was constantly told to wait for them to return, get turned around, refueled and rearmed. They got used to calling the carriers directly and over half of the tactical air cover received by the Army in Korea was from carriers.
Submitted by ISHKABIBBLE at: June 5, 2013
Be very careful what you wish for,bear in mind,that without corruption and military work,there are no jobs left in the US. Corruption is the 2nd largest growth industry in the US. Pornography is the largest. Think about it!
Submitted by Pete at: June 3, 2013
As a residet of a state high in expensive military weapons ship construction, i know why congress does it. It is not fair to the rest of the country's needs. It is all about reelection. Makes me frusrated.
Submitted by steinie at: June 1, 2013
pogo should go on nbr nitely stock mkt. show. they would welcome you. also pls contact Rachel on cnbc
Submitted by steinie at: June 1, 2013
we should close many bases
Submitted by Jack at: June 1, 2013
Congress has been doing this for decades, since Kennedy ignored Eisenhower's warning about a corporate military industrial complex. The house and senate representatives that have big military industries are always ready to support weapons we do not need and supporting corporate war machines because it brings big money to a few states and big campaign contributions. The military has told congress thy do not need any more fleets of tanks and outdated fighter jets and congress still insists on wasting money on these projects in a time when more and more people are becoming desperate to live any kind of normal life. We could use the money to support our vets, especially the disabled vets that make up 40% of our street population.
Submitted by Buudhaprince at: June 1, 2013
If the Republicans had their way, we would look just like North Korea in percent of military and social service spending!!
Submitted by Tigermac at: June 1, 2013
The problem is there is still money in politics, the reason for these politicians pushing to keep either out dated or unnecessary weapons and other products going, is military contractors are paying them huge amounts of money to these politicians to keep these unwanted items going. This country is totally geared for the rich, taxpayers money is their piggy bank, too many politicians and government agencies are constantly stealing taxpayers money. Until we get money out of politics, this miss use and theft of taxpayers money will continue.
Submitted by kanawah at: June 1, 2013
The congress will not let a bad program dye. Their rich friends in the military industry come first.
Submitted by Nina at: June 1, 2013
Cut ALL military unecessary stuff, Zero dollars to the PENTGOn, and cut politicians salaries and benefits to no more than Medicare and Social Security. We would then have No deficit.
Submitted by Tippy at: June 1, 2013
Very important to know who is resisting the recomened cutbacks
Submitted by Gerald Warner at: June 1, 2013
Why are we wasting our military soldiers bringing them home and putting them on the welfare lines after being trained to protect this country and our Constitution? Why are we spending more money we don't have to train new people to do the same jobs? Why aren't you looking at the waste in these three DHS, FEMA, SSA??? No one is questioning these !!!!
Submitted by Jack Lohman at: June 1, 2013
It doesn't matter what the issue -- the campaign contributions, bribes, to politicians by big oil companies, by Monsanto of GMO and bee-killing fame, by the private prison industry and security guard unions for overly strong drug laws, by the defense industry and drone manufacturers, or the bankers or health care, or whatever industry of the day -- political corruption at the top is this nation's BIGGEST threat. IT is the big fire... all others are pure and intentional distractions. Small fires. WE taxpayers and citizens will all pay dearly, or our kids will. Lefties and Righties alike. ONLY public funding of campaigns will save our democracy and avoid a bloody rebellion, of which Obama and the Feds are already planning. And ONLY a near-100% turnover in 2014 will save us. Whether R or D, we need new blood in congress, and we need constant turnover, and political leaders that are owned by US voters rather than THEM Fat Cats. But we have to quit being sheeple, and drinking their Kool-Aide. We voters must get smart. And we don't have a lot of time.
Submitted by Paul Warrick at: May 30, 2013
I am interested in learning which districts/states are affected and who is resisting the recommended cutbacks.

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