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Lawmakers Exploit Tragedy to Demand Defense Dollars

An amphibious assault vehicle (AAV), assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), September 2017.
An amphibious assault vehicle (AAV), assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), September 2017. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary DiPadova / U.S. Navy)

This article originally appeared in the The American Conservative

Every time a military tragedy occurs, a politician will inevitably rush to blame it on the “gutted” Pentagon budget. After 15 Marines were seriously injured when an Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) burst into flames on September 13, it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to capitalize on the tragedy by screaming for more defense dollars.

For those keeping score, it took less than 48 hours for Representative Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, to issue a press statement linking the incident to other “accidents related to readiness challenges.”

The chairman appears to be implying that the aging vehicle should have been replaced or that the Marines lacked funds to properly maintain the vehicle. But this accident happened as a result of the vehicle striking an underground natural gas line, not because Congress couldn’t pass the budget Representative Thornberry wants.

This is a pattern that is repeated over and over again. After two U.S. Navy destroyers suffered collisions with commercial ships this summer, politicians and military leaders were quick to blame shrinking budgets and continuing resolutions. Certain members seize upon each of these incidents to insist the only way to prevent future accidents is with vast Pentagon spending increases. This is a ghoulish spectacle that trivializes the sacrifices of the young men and women involved.

Read the rest of the article in The American Conservative

Photo of Dan Grazier

By: Dan Grazier, Jack Shanahan Military Fellow

Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight

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