Another Embarrassment for the Pentagon
U.S. Military Program Full of Corruption, Waste and Fraud
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
The Pentagon has cancelled the expensive and increasingly irrelevant Comanche helicopter program. At 15 years overdue and many millions over budget, the only thing the Comanche ever did well was prove that pigs can fly. With any luck, this is just the first domino in a chain of many in the Pentagon budget. The Pentagon insists each of its weapons projects is essential to national security, but the failure of the Comanche has undercut their credibility, and the next domino seems within reach.
The Department of Defense will try to suture its wounds by denying that the Comanche's problems are systemic. They will claim that it is 'unusual' for a weapons program to take far longer than originally planned and be millions over budget. But those criticisms describe pretty nearly every major weapons program that the Pentagon manages. Instead of stemming the hemorrhaging, the Pentagon should be putting itself through an old-fashioned blood letting to exorcise its most bloated and directionless budget items. A major review of some of the military's biggest programs is long overdue.
Some programs, like the Comanche, are simply floundering after years of poor management. The Land Warrior program, which envisions soldiers with superior body armor, communications, and sensors has fallen so far behind its original schedule that it is now slated to roll out only shortly before the Objective Force Warrior program, which essentially replaces it. The Osprey V-22 program has also become increasingly expensive while failing to perform: two have crashed since testing began, one with fatal results for its 7 occupants. The loss of American service men and women should have been the death knell for this project, but it continues to receive billions in funding.
The Comanche also serves as an example of how some programs suffer from serious conceptual problems. The Cold War served as a template for many of the military's projects that date back to the 1980's. In the Comanche's case, an attempt to give it stealth capabilities is now worthless. Since the beginning of the War Against Iraq, nine American helicopters have crashed or been shot down, killing 32 soldiers. The preponderance of shoulder-launched missiles has made helicopters tempting and all too easy targets. The Comanche was designed to have a low radar profile, making it difficult to track, but this advantage is no help against today's point and shoot insurgents and terrorists. Beyond the Comanche's cost and deadline troubles, its more fundamental flaw was that it was a weapon designed for a different war. Like bringing a knife to a gun fight, the Comanche simply didn't fit in with modern warfare.
The Cold War mentality was also behind development of the Crusader, the massive artillery tank that was cancelled last year, and the F/A-22 Raptor, a fighter plane designed to threaten targets deep within the nonexistent USSR while operating from bases in Western Europe. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's air superiority is under no threat. Updates and further procurement of the cheap and effective workhorses of the Air Force, the F-15 and F-16, could guarantee us control of the skies for some time to come.
Furthermore, the Joint Strike Fighter being developed in conjunction with long-term US allies promises to deliver significant performance improvements at a cost far below that of the F/A-22 Raptor.
Many of these programs are political third rails because of the jobs provided by the multitude of military contractors and subcontractors who are charged with building them. This economic carrot makes it impossible to cut them without enraging the delegations of multiple states. As with any piece of legislation, the Pentagon's budget should be judged on the merits of the projects it funds. These projects are inefficient, overdue, over cost, and are increasingly unnecessary. Cutting the Comanche is only the first step toward bringing fiscal sanity to our armed forces.
P.S. Congress might restore funding to this overpriced, obsolete and irrelevant program.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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