Every government department wastes taxpayer dollars. The Department of Defense is no exception. Although there is no doubt that our armed forces have kept America safe, an unlimited bank account lends itself to waste and abuse.The construction of the 64,000 square foot base at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan is a textbook example.
When President Obama announced the surge of 33,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2009, several commanders insisted that the facility was not needed at all. The Marine Corps General said “I don’t want it, don’t build it, I won’t use it. So stop construction.” He wasn’t alone.
An Army general who preferred to stay anonymous also said that he cannot comprehend the idea behind the construction of the unnecessary facility. Nonetheless, the military brass believes that the building was not necessarily essential, but the funding was already approved by Congress and in the ‘use it or lose it’ Washington environment, the Pentagon decided not to give up the money. The construction of the command center ‘Taj Mahal’ proceeded as planned.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan John Sopko is investigating this case along with many others which symbolize “the staggering cost of Pentagon mismanagement.” The facility now stands: built and ready, but devoid of any troops. In NPR, Sopko observes that:
The joke in my office is, we will eventually see a base where on one side of the base they’re destroying it, while on the other side they’re building it. And they will probably meet in the middle.
In a time of exploding federal budgets, we cannot afford further budgetary adventurism. This criticism comes in the wake of Congressman Burgess’ (R-Texas) efforts to audit Pentagon’s finances. Unlike other government agencies, the Pentagon has not undergone a proper audit for more than two decades. An end to the ‘no questions asked’ mentality towards military expenses is long overdue.
The US deserves to have the best military in the world, and out of control spending only ties up resources that could be better used to keep the nation safe.