Military waste

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Our military budget must reflect world realities. No current or near-term peril comes close to matching the Soviet threat. The strength and number of America's foreign military forces have diminished substantially in recent years; the government should keep some of the savings and reduce defense spending. America's military superiority is critical, but it should no longer cost the taxpayers $250 billion a year, which is the Pentagon's current take from the federal budget. Some call for revisions to the cold war-era doctrine that requires the armed forces to be ready to fight two large wars at the same time. Defense spending from 1947 to 1992 targeted programs for dealing with the Soviet Union and its allies, a threat that no longer exists. The United States cannot be lax when it comes to protecting national security. Rogue nations such as Iraq continue to pose a threat to American interests in the gulf. Official's fear North Korea, overwrought by famine and political instability, may implode or seek relief by renewing hostilities with South Korea. The United States must also continue to redefine its relationship with China, which is striving to become a substantial military power in the next century. Terrorist activity against the United States is a constant concern, and deployment of American troops for peacekeeping purposes is certain to increase. Our military should keep some of these guiding principles in perspective. First of all the cold war is over and the Soviet Union is no more. Second, disorder and conflict require new approaches. Ethnic and nationalist conflicts continue to spawn terrible human tragedies that imperil the security of U.S. allies and U.S. economic interests. These threats are better met or prevented through improved intelligence capabilities and multilateral and regional responses. Third, using smart diplomacy before smart bombs. The U.S. should emphasize non-military solutions. Next, size the force to meet the threat. Then, invest in upgrades, not new systems. Excessive spending on new weapons robs U.S. troops of crucial funds for readiness and training. Finally, military pork is just as wasteful as domestic pork. The Pentagon is the largest source of bureaucratic waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government. Modest investments to reduce the former Soviet arsenal will save money in the long term. Cleaning up polluted military sites and diversifying our defense industrial base are good investments making military purchases more affordable and allowing excess property to be transferred to private use. Each will increase our economic security and relieve long-term pressure on defense budget. The common factor linking these programs is that they require the Defense Department to spend money now in order to save money later. According to the Congressional Research Service, "spending on non-defense activities in the military budget increased from $3.5 billion in FY90 to an estimated $13 billion in FY94. This sum amounts to roughly 5% of the FY94 defense budget. " Dollar for dollar, there is no better way to spend national security resources than to help a former enemy's nuclear weapons and industry. It's a small investment with an enormous payoff. There would be nothing more penny wise and pound foolish than for the United States to fail to seize this investment opportunity." "“ Defense Secretary William Perry, September 20, 1994. The U.S. currently spends about $14 billion annually to maintain its nuclear arsenal, which was developed to deter a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. Ironically congress has appropriated a total of $1.2 billion since 1992 for the Nunn-Lugar program to support nuclear weapon dismantlement in the former Soviet republics. "Non-defense" defense programs cost much less than purely military responses to the same threat, but many congressional opponents of these programs routinely add funds for their own priorities to the defense budget. In past years congress has added billions of dollars to the military construction budget above the requested level for projects in key states and districts. By cutting military waste and pork barrel spending our country could enjoy a balanced budget. Waste such as the $400 hammer, the $600 toilet seat, the $7600 coffeepot is unacceptable. According to the Government Accounting Office the military can't account for more than $30 billion in past expenditures and can't find vouchers for about $1 billion a month in current expenditures. Last year the military spent $2 million to transport Air Force Academy cadets to and from sporting events. A Pentagon task force recently concluded that the military employs twice as many doctors as it would need even in wartime. Fi this problem alone could save taxpayers more than half a billion a year. Both Republicans and Democrats alike refuse to allow us to choose to cut military spending rather than social spending. At $2.2 billion a copy, one B2 stealth bomber is equivalent to two year's funding for the promising Americorps program. Republicans would eliminate Americorps and build 20 more B2's. The cost of building 422 F22 fighter planes is $72 billion. That's almost as much as congress proposes to cut from welfare programs. The $50 billion cost of the Star Wars program is

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