Not Replacing 1970’s Military Equipment

by reader Ilsm

Misspent Tax Dollars for Profits, Not Replacing 1970’s Military Equipment

US outlays for military programs are wasted through mismanagement and neglect: these must not be spared in spending cuts. 20% of US government outlays are for the Defense Department. Something that needs to be to considered while reading the report is that the sum of Research and Procurement appropriations in DoD 2011 proposed budget is $214B ($189B baseline with an additional $25B for overseas contingencies).

According to GAO 09-326SP Assessment of Selected Weapons Programs (8mb pdf!), the largest weapon projects, the “portfolio” of 96 major programs with commitments for spending on revised acquisition “baselines” has grown to $1.6T, averaging a 19% increase since each program started, with 42% (40 programs) of the reviewed programs rising in cost more than 25% since inception. At 25% increase the Sec Def is required to justify to congress why the department will continue with the program.

There not only is room to cut, there is screaming need to cut. It will take 8 to 10 years’ at current 2011 budget levels to work through these commitments assuming cost increases stop, schedules are met, technical performance is delivered, and the US doesn’t “go broke” trying. The $1.6T is the tip of the DoD acquisition iceberg, for these are the largest systems mismanaged at reviews by the highest level, an Undersecretary of Defense led panel. There are a lot of other urgent requirements against the research and investment budgets, which were not reviewed in this assessment.

There will be a huge logistics burden for these systems. Acquisition costs are a fraction of DoD’s total weapon system commitments, each system requires two to three times acquisition costs over the planned 20 year life to train and maintain “capability” for fictitious wars and entanglements. This bow wave of future logistics for the major programs is $3 to 5 Trillion in support costs spread over 20 years. (Operations and Maintenance 2011 with OCO $317B, about $200B base budget)

Cutting most of this $7T unfunded liability will encourage national security, and reduce deficits. What good is it to be “bankrupted” for the wrong weapons, whose untested specifications are watered down to limit the obscene cost overruns, years after promised?

These commitments scream to be reviewed and many cancelled. They represent gross mismanagement, waste, nothing but dividends to companies who profit.

GAO released 10-388SP in March 2010, however it does not have “rolled up data” due to “lack of complete Selected Acquisition Report data for 2009”.

Footnote: GAO Acquisition Cost: All cost information is presented in fiscal year 2009 dollars using Office of the Secretary of Defense approved deflators to eliminate the effects of inflation. We have depicted only the program’s main elements of acquisition cost—research and development and procurement. GAO 09-326SP, App I, Pg. 168 (175/190 .pdf)