Pentagon Spending: 50% for Bullets, 50% for Bureaucracy

January 14th, 2017 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & Shawn Snow / Military Times – 2017-01-14 22:18:30

Pentagon’s Day-to-Day Costs Soar Above 50% of Budget

Pentagon’s Day-to-Day Costs Soar Above 50% of Budget
Jason Ditz /

(January 13, 2017) — Overseas operations are often misleadingly budgeted around 10-12% of the overall Pentagon spending annually. Officials, however, say that when operations and general maintenance are figured in, the cost grows to cover over half of the nation’s military spending, $251 billion as of 2015.

That percentage is a huge increase, and one which has steadily and precipitously grown for decades, though Pentagon officials insist no one is exactly sure why everything seems to cost way more than it did the previous year even though the number of troops and the number of wars relatively stable.

Some officials are trying to shrug it off as rising fuel costs or the like, and while fuel prices indeed rose many of those years, it was not the straight line increase like that the Pentagon is seeing on its costs of doing more or less everything they do.

The simpler answer, though one the Pentagon isn’t considering, is that operations and maintenance costs are rising dramatically simply because they can, because irrespective of supposed budget limitations, Congress always gives the Pentagon everything it asks for and then some.

Indeed, while figure in this study was separated from the large-scale weapons projects, those are largely doing the exact same thing, with most big US weapons projects coming in way, way over budget and delivering much less than expected, again, because contractors have no reason not to keep jacking up the prices every year.

It’s something that’s going to become a growing issue in the years to come, as with the costs of buying stuff, doing stuff, or maintaining the already bought stuff are pretty much the whole budget, and with all rising at a huge rate it’s getting less and less possible for the Pentagon to just shuffle the figures around and make it look like they’re not badly mishandling their budget.

Report: Day-to-day Operation Costs Eat Up Half of the Defense Budget
Shawn Snow / Military Times

(January 13, 2017) — Operation and maintenance (O&M) costs ate up roughly $251 billion, or 50 percent of the US defense budget, when overseas contingency operations (OCO) were accounted for in 2015, according to a report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“Over the past few decades, funding for O&M has increased substantially, accounting for a growing share of DoD’s budget. That growth has occurred even as the number of active-duty military personnel has remained flat or declined,” the report reads.

However, due to the extremely complex nature of O&M funds and the diversity of goods and services it provides, it is not exactly known why costs continue to rise.

Military health care, civilian defense personnel pay and fuel were highlighted as a potential culprit, which “accounts for about 60 percent of the long-term growth in O&M funding,” the CBO explained.

Maintenance of equipment and weapon systems also saw a significant spike in O&M funding, likely attributed to the past 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan the CBO report reads.

Military personnel and weapons procurement contributed to a much smaller share of defense spending at 27 percent and 19 percent, respectively. However, these figures don’t account for overseas operations.

In 2015, Congress appropriated $64 billion for overseas operations, of which $51 billion was consumed on O&M — in other words, 80 percent of these funds went to O&M.

“Funding for operation and maintenance is used to purchase a wide range of goods and services — numbering in the thousands — and those goods and services are often acquired in small quantities or at relatively small unit cost,” the CBO clarified.

Because of the range of goods and services, it is extremely difficult for the CBO to pinpoint a precise reason or project that is causing the increase in O&M; in contrast, weapons procurement is much easier to analyze — consisting of only 100 or fewer projects.

[Read the complete report online at Military Times]

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