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What 'invisible expenditures' does US military have?

By Liu Liqun (PLA Daily)

15:06, September 13, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

An independent U.S. inquiry committee recently submitted a report to Congress in which it disclosed that the U.S. government has wasted at least 31 billion U.S. dollars and at most 60 billion U.S. dollars in wartime outsourcing contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan because of waste and corruption related to contractors.

Modern wars rely highly on logistics, and the operations of the U.S. military will be abnormal without the support of modern logistics. Contractors have provided the U.S. military with goods and services, including food, cleaning, escort, equipment maintenance and construction. The United States needs to cover the costs of the contractor workforce, which amounted to about 209,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is 60,000 more than the combined number of soldiers deployed in the two countries.

It is inevitable for the U.S. military to have the "invisible expenditure" involving waste and fraud when dealing with such a heavy logistical demand and so many contractors. A U.S.-based media agency has disclosed that a power socket costs U.S. troops in Afghanistan 299 U.S. dollars, while it is actually priced at only 9 U.S. dollars.

The "wasteful projects" of the U.S. military exposed by U.K.-based Daily Telegraph include: an agricultural aid program costing the U.S. military 625,000 British pounds sterling per day to cover the wages of the Afghan farmers working on their own farmland; an Afghan sub-contractor has allocated one-fifth of its contracting funds to local armed men for protection against attacks.

Furthermore, more than 11 billion U.S. dollars worth of infrastructure built by the U.S. military for the Afghan National Security Forces is left idle because of the lack of support from the local government. It is no wonder that some said the rapid channels that were established for the purpose of saving lives have given the green light to corruption and waste because of inadequate transparency and competition among contractors.

The American people would find it acceptable if the end result were worth the money and efforts, but the more than 1-trillion-U.S.-dollar bill for the War on Terror and the death of several thousand American soldiers did not bring absolute safety to the United States or stability to Iraq and Afghanistan. People might be able to endure it in favorable economic times, but the prolonged weak economic recovery and ever-increasing government debt eventually provoked widespread discontent among the American people. Is the U.S. government trying to "reconstruct the United States, or Iraq and Afghanistan?"

After the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed in the 9/11 attacks, the international community became sympathetic to the United States and showed support for the War on Terror. However, widespread turmoil and unrest caused by the U.S. counter-terrorism troops have forced peace-loving people to root out the real reasons behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why did a U.S. president decide to send more troops overseas shortly after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize? Should other countries continue to support the U.S. War on Terror? On second thought, some U.S. allies started to partially or completely withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. With the two wars gradually losing support among both its people and allies, the international image and influence of the United States have been declining for years. This may be the most serious intangible loss of the United States from the two wars.

To reduce waste, the Commission on Wartime Contracting of the U.S. Congress suggested that the government should improve contract designs, enhance contract management and supervision, enlarge competition, strengthen inter-agency cooperation and reduce or cancel projects that cannot be sustained independently by countries where U.S. forces maintain presence.

The U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson noted that they would start supervision, assessment and correction in order to ensure effective wartime contracting and help the "right people" get funds. However, lessons learned from significant events indicate that the key question is whether the U.S. strategic perspective is right. Only a right strategic choice is the basis for victory.

Solving all problems by force can only cure the symptoms, not the disease. In this sense, the United States needs to review its strategic thinking as well as the appropriation of expenditures. Even if the United States can reduce or even eliminate wartime contracting waste and fraud, it still needs to pay increasingly more dominant and covert expenditures when the strategy of U.S. forces or the whole nation goes too far.

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Leave your comment12 comments

  1. Name

US Citizen at 2011-09-2375.207.61.*
The citizens of the US are sick and tired of our government taking all our money in taxes, wasting the money they take, and sticking their noses all over the world. We need a revolution in this country. The media lies to us, the politicians lie to us and we are about over it.. We all still have guns, lots of guns and know how to use them.
Arthur Borges at 2011-09-21115.57.238.*
QUOTEThe "wasteful projects" of the U.S. military exposed by U.K.-based Daily Telegraph include: an agricultural aid program costing the U.S. military 625,000 British pounds sterling per day to cover the wages of the Afghan farmers working on their own farmland"UNQUOTEThis sounds more like payment for their cash crop, which comes from a special sort of flower. :-S
Observer at 2011-09-14114.76.49.*
There is lots of money to make in war. Corruption is prevalent in the US military and government.
Anthony at 2011-09-1499.251.111.*
The Americans empire of military bases is not necessary, at the same time, bringing American finances to their knees!
PD User at 2011-09-1480.94.16.*
2011-09-13.US to show of world own inept politic to contradict american economic"s resourceful.To throw society"s and states money in mud.US to start to assiociate as country guilt all world crisis economic"s with their guild government"d.To have weak politician,people"s withoult face and nature a such grasshopper"s to play how cicade;s in all world.Their mentallity politic to be tragic.
  

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