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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Letter to Senators Levin and McCain regarding the Pentagon request for multiple fixed wing aircraft as part of the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Request for the Global War on Terror

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March 22, 2007

Honorable Carl Levin, Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington , DC   20510

Honorable John McCain, Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington , DC   20510

Dear Senators Levin and McCain:

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) would like to commend your efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and in an effective manner.  We are pleased specifically that you prevailed upon the Pentagon to withdraw its request for multiple fixed wing aircraft such as the CV-22 Osprey and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as part of the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Request for the Global War on Terror (GWOT).[1]

Although the Pentagon withdrew its request this time, we remain concerned that the pattern of hiding controversial major procurements in war budgets continues.  It is clear you need to remain vigilant.

According to the enclosed draft pre-decisional document "Adjustment to the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Request," the Air Force plans to defer its request for one CV-22 and two F-35s to the FY 2008 GWOT request.[2] Doing so would violate your sound recommendation that these programs be incorporated into the FY 2008 Department of Defense Base Budget and would prevent Congress from being able to effectively oversee these systems.  The Joint Strike Fighter is in its infancy and of no use in combat until 2013; and the Osprey remains restricted to medium threat environments, seriously limiting its value to the troops in combat. Not only would these aircraft be of no use to the troops currently in battle, but the funds used to purchase these aircraft are at the expense of urgently needed equipment and funds for the broken medical care system for our wounded.

We would also like to call attention to an additional measure in the FY 2008 GWOT budget request, in which the Air Force has requested five more CV-22 Ospreys and one more F-35. Once again, this request violates the spirit of your efforts to ensure that the Pentagon does not use its war budgets to push forward questionable procurements which are not needed for the war effort.[3]

History has given POGO reason to be concerned. POGO was deeply disappointed that the FY 2006, Emergency  Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (H.R. 4939) transferred funds intended for night vision goggles and other equipment intended for the troops, and added those funds specifically an V-22 Osprey aircraft account.[4]

As you well know, every dollar expended signifies a choice that is made not to spend it on something else. It would appear that in these cases, the defense industry lobby has been successful in obtaining funds for their clients at the expense of the warfighter. Therefore, we would like to highlight several programs contained in the unfunded priorities lists for FY 2008, submitted by the Army and Marines, the military branches shouldering the vast majority of the Iraq war burden.[5]

For example, both the Army and Marines have requested funds for additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protection Vehicles (MRAPS) that could save countless lives in Iraq .  They have also requested funds to further develop Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) systems, Counter Sniper threats and for night vision equipment— equipment that would directly improve the safety and well being of our troops abroad.

By removing the high-priced Joint Strike Fighters and Ospreys from the FY 2008 GWOT request, the Congress would make almost $700 million available to fund equipment and health care needs that would actually help the troops.  In other words, a majority of the above mentioned programs could be fully funded.  We hope that you will take these measures into consideration to ensure our men and women in uniform receive the appropriate gear.

Sincerely,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director

Enclosures

________________________

1 FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Request for the Global War on Terror (GWOT), February 2007. http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2008/fy2007_supplemental/FY2007_Emergency_
Supplemental_Request_for_the_GWOT.pdf


2 Department of Defense FY 2008 Global War On Terror Request and other budget documents here: http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2008/


3 2008 GWOT, pp 63-64. http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2008/fy2007_supplemental/FY2008_
Global_War_On_Terror_Request.pdf


4 POGO Questions Senate's Move to Fund Troubled Aviation Programs Instead of Supporting War Fighters, April 26, 2006.


5 The Army and Marines unfunded requirements lists have been posted at InsideDefense.com and can be downloaded for a nominal fee.
 

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