One Place to Cut Defense Spending – Dependents

imagesShould tax-payers be footing the bill to send dependents and their belongings over-seas to join their active-duty spouses on two-years assignments? This paper examines the question and demands the pentagon audit release the figures.

The First Ever Audit

In 2018, the US military will receive 700 billion dollars in tax-payer’s money. That is 100 billion more than the previous year and is over half the military spending of the whole world. So far, the military has not been forthcoming with just how it spends that money. This is about to change as the Pentagon begins its first-ever agency wide audit.

One area of spending few people think about is the US Transportation Command, established in 1987,  which is in charge of moving military equipment and personal around the world.  It also moves dependents and family belongings when soldiers get new duty stations. Unknown

The amount of weight in household belongings USTRANSCOM ships for soldiers and dependents at tax-payer expense depends on their rank and ranges from 8,000 pounds for a private to nearly 20,000 for high ranking officers. The cost of flying the families, getting them subsidized housing, giving them access to the government subsidized PX and Commissary stores, free on-post medical and free education for their children are other costs also need to be included in the audit.

Break Down the Numbers Please

The audit must detail the figures of how much of USTRANSCOM’s budget is devoted to moving families and their belongings overseas with their spouses new assignments. There are over 300,000 active duty personnel outside the United States and its territories present in more than 150 countries. The cost of moving families and belongings has to be staggering.

Many Americans believe we must do everything we can to help those who serve. But the audit and the amount of defense spending begs the question of whether we should be paying for families to join their active-duty spouse in another country on a two-year deployment? My opinion is we should not.

They are also a liability

Since Roman times, families, craftsmen, businessmen and even prostitutes would accompany soldiers as they marched to new postings which could last their whole 20 year long service for Legionnaires. Often those soldiers would settle in the area where they served. Ancient Rome awarded land to retiring soldiers.

Dependents can also be a liability? Charles Martel defeated the Muslims at Poitiers in 732 by attacking their wagon-train, sending the Maure soldiers to break ranks and try to save concubines and belongings. The French tried the same without success at Agincourt in 1415 but the English bowmen held fast and lost much, save the battle, while the French ended up losing all, including their honor.

There is much we can do to reduce defense spending. Of course, we should not have 300,000 GIs around the world. Nor should we be provoking crisis and war to justify the incredible spending. What sense does it make to kill two guys in a Toyota pick up with a million dollar Tomahawk missile? Eisenhower’s ‘Military Industrial Complex’ has become a powerful lobby buying off our elected leaders. This audit should help clear the fog and change American attitudes towards how much we spend and what we spend it on. images-1

 

 

 

1 This NPR article explains the audit: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/08/569394885/pentagon-announces-first-ever-audit-of-the-department-of-defense

2 This is TRANSCOM’s tool for evaluating what you are allowed to ship: https://www.move.mil/entitlements#can-bring

3 This article deals with the role and history of TRANSCOM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Transportation_Command

4 This Business Insider shows how the Pentagon spends your money and where it is wasted: http://www.businessinsider.com/military-spending-budget-defense-cuts-2011-10?IR=T#so-where-do-they-get-all-that-money-15

 

One Comment

  1. There is enough evidence available to support the conclusion that deployment stress affects military families. Of course, combat deployment stress is the most significant, but all deployment separations affect families adversely. There is absolutely no reason career military NCO’s and officers should not be able to have the same benefits as the civilian sector when it comes to working overseas, regardless of the duration. Having worked for an international company, I know that vice presidents given overseas assignments always brought their families and the company paid for their moving. The only difference is housing. But then again, company vice presidents make 6 figure incomes. Not so much for a army sergeant. The military must have significant benefits to retain qualified personnel willing to work 24/7 under sometimes life threatening conditions . The money we spend on these benefits has made the US forces among to best in the world.

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