Policy Letter

POGO's Letter to Congress Regarding Removal of Funding for Night Vision Goggles for the Troops

Dear Member of Congress:

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) feels compelled to draw your attention to an offensive provision in the Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (H.R. 4939) that is pending in Conference Committee.

The language that causes us concern has removed funds for night vision goggles, upgrades to light-armored vehicles, and other equipment vitally important for Marines fighting on the ground in Iraq, and designated those funds for the Navy's Aircraft Procurement account to acquire three MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

POGO is a non-partisan non-profit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and misconduct, such as wasteful spending, to achieve a federal government that is more accountable to its citizens. As such, we must point out how this situation is an example of a government expenditure that would be irresponsible and would waste taxpayer dollars.

This Osprey funding was not requested by either the executive branch or the House of Representatives. While this supplemental appropriation is supposed to be used for Hurricane Recovery and the Iraq War, the Osprey cannot help Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts and has never been used in a combat environment. In fact, this aircraft has an unacceptably high failure rate and high cost. The federal government has spent 25 years and $19 billion on the Osprey, yet its numerous fundamental technical problems are unresolved. The Osprey has claimed the lives of 24 young Marines and four civilian contractors since its development. The aircraft still lacks combat maneuverability in a High Risk environment-a descriptor that definitely includes Iraq -and cannot be equipped with defensive weaponry.

As we have seen over the past years, individual equipment is of the utmost importance. The legislative provision would cut this type of equipment, which ground troops use daily to accomplish crucial tasks such as defending military installations, manning vehicle checkpoints, and protecting convoys.

We realize that few Members or their staffs are aware of this egregious example of wasteful spending that does not advance our national security interests.

We are requesting that you alert your colleagues on the Emergency Supplemental conference committee to this wrongheaded provision and urge them to remove this provision and continue funding night vision goggles and other individual equipment. Removing the provision would help avoid placing the troops who are fighting on our behalf in even more danger unnecessarily.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to take the time to correct this wrong. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this important matter at 202-347-1122.


Danielle Brian

Executive Director