The Project On Government Oversight today said it is dismayed by efforts to remove funding for night vision goggles and other effective military equipment while funding for the defective V-22 Osprey would be increased.
In addition to funding cuts for night vision goggles, the pending emergency supplemental bill for Iraq and Hurricane Katrina spending would also cuts programs for new battle vehicles for troops serving in Iraq.
The Osprey, a Marine Corps aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane, has been plagued by many set backs since it was proposed 26 years ago and has already cost the American taxpayer $18 billion.
Multiple crashes have claimed the lives of 26 Marines and four civilians. A scandal involving forgery of maintenance records in 2000 also has called the program into question. Yet, the Marine Corps is still pursuing funding for the troubled plane.
"I remember watching the Osprey burn in a field in Marana, Arizona, six years ago, and I also experienced firsthand the shortage of night vision goggles in Iraq last year," said POGO Defense Investigator Todd Bowers. Bowers served two tours of duty in Iraq and was on the scene moments after 19 of his fellow Marines died in the V-22 crash at Marana. "This funding priority makes no sense and would take necessary gear away from our men and women in the field to fund an already troubled program. The troops and the taxpayers deserve better," Bowers said.
POGO also questions the inclusion of this program in the supplemental legislation, which is supposed to fund replacement of equipment destroyed or damaged in the Iraq War.
"The Osprey has never been used in Iraq, so we would like to know how this can be defined as emergency spending," added Danielle Brian, POGO 's executive director. "We object to funding the Osprey and oppose any measure that would place our troops in even more danger than they already face while serving our country."
"This is a clear choice for Senators: voting for this legislation equals taking from the troops and giving to defense contractors," Bowers added.