Everyone acts surprised.
The real story is from the Washington Post.
Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste
I saw this at Brock’s Free North Carolina Site.
I cared about this until I saw it was in the Washington Post. After their election coverage, I don’t believe a single thing they print, not even the date. The WP can be depended on to even lie about the horoscopes. But I did go back and read the story because I work at the Pentagon and I wanted to see if they were reporting about me and I should be watching for the 60 minutes van to pull up in my driveway. And (after breathing a sigh of relief) the story made me angry. It is just more yellow journalism by writers who wouldn’t know how to really investigate anything to save their own mothers.
First. The Pentagon is a building. It has several addresses depending on which agency you want to write to and the address is “Washington, DC”, even though it is obviously in Virginia. As a building, the Pentagon is an inanimate object (except for all the ventilation fans, and pumps motors). It has no volition of it’s own. It’s just a building. In this case, it is intentionally being used by the “journalists” as a metaphor for “evil military people”. The real way this works is, everyone in the Pentagon works for someone. In most cases, that someone is ultimately the Secretary of Defense. That guy has a name. This year, that person’s name is Ashton Carter. He is appointed by the President of the USA. THAT person has a name. Right now, that person’s name is Barrack Obama. So, the real headline should be:
Obama wastes $125 billion in military spending and then covers it up.
A real thoughtful investigation would have actually named the name of the person who ordered the coverup.
On top of that, the word “Pentagon” is being used as a metaphor for the entire military structure, world wide. There aren’t actually a million people working in a building that only holds 27k.
So, where is the money being wasted…
The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.
Ah. There it is. Use less people. That’s not a “buried” recommendation. That is standard operating procedure that has been implemented ever since Obama got elected and is always the first thing suggested in every efficiency report. It is the low hanging fruit of saving money. In other words, the report was rightfully “buried” because it was nothing more than another example of waste and bloat in action.
The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.
Another “outside agency” telling us how to run our business. Thanks guys. Here’s your check. Now go away. I notice they didn’t mention the money the Pentagon wastes every year on consultants telling it how to save money (it is in the hundreds of millions).
For the record, the Pentagon doesn’t need these guys to tell us we are a fat bloated bureaucracy. We also have GSA, GAA, and AAA telling us every year the same thing. Their reports aren’t “buried”, they are a matter of public record. And they are all a bunch of crap. They are all written by junior and middle bureaucrats who think they are so damned smart that they know more than the people in charge. So they attack nameless “efficiency” instead of attacking the real problems, people in charge, who have names, who create policy that is just plain stupid, wasteful and inefficient. This year, that person’s name is Ashton Carter. He works for another guy who has a name. His name is Barack Obama.
Examples of expensive policy decisions:
- The services will use bio fuels whenever possible: cost 4 times the price per gallon of regular fuels.
- The services will integrate women into all jobs at all levels. Cost: No telling.
- DoD policy to eliminate anti personnel land mines: 5-10 billion dollars.
- DoD policy to eliminate cluster munitions: $10-15 billion.
I will let you read the rest of the article for yourself. It isn’t worth parsing because the conclusions they reach are unsupported by the evidence in their article. They do not have any idea what the “right number” of back office people is. So, the money they claim they could save is just an estimate, derived from thin air. You cannot compare the military to other business models because, unlike other businesses, the military is intentionally wasteful. We are designed that way. We intentionally have 3 Aircraft carriers for every one that is “on duty”, the other 2 are in maintenance and training cycles. We don’t buy our supplies “just in time”, we buy them “just in case”. We intentionally buy things we hope we will never use, (looking at you, nuclear arsenal). We intentionally stockpile uniforms, guns, fuel and munitions well in excess of our annual needs. On top of that, we have Congress interfering in our budget every year. Of the DoD budget, there are about 9000 program elements (things we spend money on). Of them, 3000 are “must pay” bills that congress demands we spend, like more C-17s when the Air force says they have enough and more M1 Tanks when we already have enough new ones parked in the California desert to replace our entire fleet, and a specific amount of money to give to the University of Florida to study sea turtles. Then we have the things we need to spend money on, but don’t have much choice about how much it costs like the utility bills at the local camps. Then there are operations. The US Army is currently doing things in 170 of the world’s 198 countries. We aren’t doing any of that because we Army guys just love to travel. In every case, some state department person arranged some sort of military exchange or service. The State department is run by someone who has a name. Right now, his Name is John Kerry. A few years ago, that person was named Hillary Clinton. They work for someone who has a name. His name is Barack Obama. Part of that wasteful overhead is because Congress and the President force us to hire people they know and want to reward. The entire EEO system, chaplains, most of the lawyers, and the marching bands are sacred cows that cannot be cut even though they don’t add a nickle of benefit for national defense. There is even a full time military guy who does nothing but play piano for the Vice President. So, the real waste isn’t just “inefficiency”. It is the people in charge, making decisions that cost you taxpayers money. Those people in charge all have names. The chief person in charge is named Barack Obama.
The real problem with the Trump administration is not that he will find this report and appoint someone to cut the waste. He has already decided to appoint someone who is perfectly fine with the waste and doesn’t even see it anymore. I can tell you for a fact, that since the announcement of Mattis for SECDEF, the senior Army generals have been spending all their time gleefully adding things to their wish lists like they have an appointment to sit on Santa’s lap. Internally, they have already announced plans to expand the Army by a huge number. If anything, Mattis, like everyone before him, is very likely to send money to a place like Potomac institute* to give him some recommendations on how to make the military more efficient.
I can tell you for a fact. In times of Plenty, discipline is scarce. No one cares about saving money or spending every dollar wisely when they are all in a hurry to open their Christmas presents.
‘* Potomac Institute is a think tank in Washington that hires retired Generals as a money laundering scheme so the military can pay them on contract for “advice”. The people who agree to the contracts just happen to be their old friends who are also generals.