Economy Government

U.S. ECONOMY: Justifications for Cutting Defense Spending Keep Adding Up

by Robert L. Hanafin

 

This story from AP Reporter Richard Lardner is a follow-up to two earlier stories I posted dealing with the need for cuts to the Defense Budget.

As with every effort to cut defense spending since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, readers know that the defense industry and their bipartisan political allies in Congress will continue doing everything politically,  culturally, economically and socially to continue the blank check war spending spree in the name of Supporting Our Troops.

Below is but ONE MORE REASON, the American tax payer needs to force Congress to reign in defense spending.

The time to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan was YESTERDAY!

ROBERT L. HANAFIN, Veterans Issues Editor, Veterans Today News

According to a Senate Panel: Widespread waste and fraud in war spending continues


AP reporter RICHARD LARDNER noted in an late August expose that

“ — As much as $60 billion in U.S. tax dollars has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption, according to an independent panel.”

In its final report to Congress, which now has been released to the public, the Senate Commission on Wartime Contracting said the waste could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving Iraq and Afghanistan to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American money.

Federal government agencies should overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones so they don’t repeat the mistakes made in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission said. Among the report’s 15 recommendations are the creation of an inspector general to monitor contracting and the appointment of a senior government official to improve planning and coordination.

The commission was established by Congress in 2008 and ceases operating at the end of September 2011.

Overall, the commission said spending on contracts and grants to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to exceed $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year. Based on its investigation, the commission said contracting waste in Afghanistan ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent of the $206 billion total. Fraud during the same period ran between 5 percent and 9 percent of the total.

The commission was vested with broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies. But the law creating the commission also dictated that it would cease operating at the end of September 2011, even as the U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be heavily supported by contractors.

       Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who co-sponsored legislation to establish the commission, said in a emailed statement to AP that

“it is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud.”

The commission cited numerous examples of waste, including a $360 million U.S.-financed agricultural development program in Afghanistan. The effort began as a $60 million project in 2009 to distribute vouchers for wheat seed and fertilizer in drought-stricken areas of northern Afghanistan. The program expanded into the south and east. Soon the U.S. was spending $1 million a day on the program, creating an environment ripe for waste and abuse.

“Paying villagers for what they used to do voluntarily destroyed local initiatives and diverted project goods into Pakistan for resale,” the commission said.

The Afghan insurgency’s second largest funding source after the illegal drug trade is the diversion of money from U.S.-backed construction projects and transportation contracts. But the commission report does not say how much money has been funneled to the insurgency. The money typically is lost when insurgents and warlords threaten Afghan subcontractors with violence unless they pay for protection.

$360 million in U.S. tax dollars has ended up in the hands of the Taliban,

AP reported earlier in August 2011 that U.S. military authorities in Kabul believe $360 million in U.S. tax dollars has ended up in the hands of people the American-led coalition has spent nearly a decade battling: the Taliban, criminals and power brokers with ties to both. The military said only a small percentage of the $360 million has been garnered by the Taliban and insurgent groups. Most of the money was lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion by criminals and power brokers.

 

Author Details
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner.My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me.Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000.I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house.I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.

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