Friday, May 23, 2008

Defense Appropriations Versus the Warfighters

Much ado has been made lately about the defense appropriations bill winding it's way through Congress, H.R. 5658: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 Bill Status, so I wanted to see just what the money for the military was going for. You know the money that actually winds up in the hands of the military and not those "special projects" the congress critters hold near and dear to their hearts.

Now being an old Army guy I decided to see how the Army money was being parsed out and I found something disturbing. In the Army you have training bases and you have bases which actually have the soldiers who make up the regular units and actually deploy. One base that is a combination of this Ft. Benning, GA, which is home to the U.S. Army Infantry School, and is home for the training of all Infantry soldiers from Basic to Infantry to Airborne to Ranger. It will soon be the home of the Armor branch, that is tanks. Additionally it is home to the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, which has done two rotations in Iraq.

I just bring up Ft. Benning because A) I am very familiar with it, and B) their entry on the funds appropriated seems to run counter to the thesis I am putting forth.

First here is the list from the bill of the funds asked for and where they are going with the bases housing the warfighters in red.

(a) Inside the United States- Using amounts appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations in subsection (c)(1), the Secretary of the Army may acquire real property and carry out military construction projects for the installations or locations inside the United States, and in the amounts, set forth in the following table:

Army: Inside the United States
State Installation or Location Amount
Alaska Fort Wainwright $17,000,000
California Fort Irwin $11,800,000
Colorado Fort Carson $8,400,000
Georgia Fort Benning $30,500,000
Fort Gordon $39,800,000
Hawaii Schofield Barracks $12,500,000
Kentucky Fort Campbell $9,900,000
Fort Knox $7,400,000
Missouri Fort Leonard Wood $50,000,000
North Carolina Fort Bragg $8,500,000
Oklahoma Fort Sill $9,000,000
South Carolina Fort Jackson $27,000,000
Texas Fort Bliss $17,300,000
Fort Hood $7,200,000
Fort Sam Houston $54,000,000
Virginia Fort Eustis $50,000,000
Fort Lee $7,400,000

The forts receiving the lowest amount of dollars are those that actually house the forces which get deployed! The biggest post east of the Mississippi is not even on the list, Ft. Stewart, GA, home of the other two brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division that has also made 2 trips to Iraq.

The average amount for the war fighters is less then $10 million, once again the exception being Ft Benning.

Look at Ft. Bragg's paltry sum: $8,500,000. Is this the same Ft. Bragg that has recently come under so much criticism for the condition of it's barracks? The Ft. Bragg that is home to the 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Forces Command?

How about Ft. Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division? $9,900,000
Another post not on the list, Ft. Drum, NY, home of the 10th Mountain Division, but I guess since they are spending all of their time in Afghanistan there is no need to give them any money. I wonder where the good senators from New York are to lobby for their base?

The total comes to just over $310 million for the bases to spend on improvements and construction projects. The warfighters portion of it - - $77 million.

Somebody up there on Capitol Hill needs to pull their heads out of their fourth point of contact and figure how to allocate the money more appropriately, or maybe somebody from across the river at the Pentagon can bother to go over there and explain to them the difference between the warfighters and the posts which have a real nifty golf course for the congress critters to visit.

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