No one speaks for all veterans, but there are things veterans can all agree on. One of them is this: Congress, we want you to stop buying us shit we don’t need.
In the latest example of Congressional budgetary malfeasance, the Army is being forced to buy tanks it doesn’t want and can’t afford to maintain… and this isn’t the first time. Nor is the Army the only military service having unwanted and extremely expensive hardware foisted upon it. The Senate also forced the Pentagon to buy drone aircraft it didn’t want, and pay to maintain ships it no longer needed. This kind of thing goes back a long time; back in the 1990s powerful legislators forced the Air Force to buy maintenance-intensive C-130 cargo planes, and then stipulated where the airframes must be stationed. A conspicuous question here is, why?
Why are America’s elected leaders making the military buy things it doesn’t want and can’t afford, especially in a time of personnel drawdowns and massive budgetary shortfalls? With the fewest members of Congress with military experiences since… well, ever, we know it’s certainly not because Congress knows military matters better or can predict future needs more effectively than the Pentagon.
No, the reason why Congress is making bad decisions for the military is the same reason now as it always is: money and power. Those tanks will be produced, and the depots where they will be stored, are in the districts of powerful legislators. The companies who make those C-130s that the Air Force doesn’t want create a lot of jobs and donate BIG money to political campaigns. The same thing happens when it comes to manufacturing drones and naval vessels; big money leads to big corruption.
Members of Congress are using the power trusted to them, and the people’s money, for their own benefit. At best, this is conflict of interest, but I characterize it as straight up corruption. In organizations with any kind of meaningful accountability, people who engage in these kinds of shenanigans lose their jobs, and sometimes even go to jail. But instead, this kind of behavior is rewarded, and the perpetrators are never held to account.
It’s important to note that all of this is coming from the same Congress that gave us “sequestration,” the automatic cuts to the Department of Defense that kicked in because our elected leaders chose to use the military as a political football when they couldn’t get their act together enough to pass a budget. Oh I get it, we can’t afford to keep the nation’s promises to its veterans, the very people who ensure our life, liberty, and property, but we CAN afford your political pork. Seems legit!
Here’s a novel idea, Congress: instead of forcing us to get things we don’t want, can’t use, and can’t afford, how about getting us things we need, can really use, and have repeatedly asked for? Things like an improved rifle and sidearm? Can we maybe get that instead of a bunch of tanks? Instead of making the Air Force buy more C-130s, why don’t you make them buy more A-10s? How about telling all of the armed services agree on a common uniform instead of telling the Navy to buy more ships they have to pay to maintain? And finally, could you act like you give a damn about the troops for a change, instead of focusing on padding your own pockets and ensuring your own political career? Because that would be just great, thanks.
This article first appeared in Havok Journal on 03JAN15.