As organizations representing Americans across the political spectrum, we are writing to voice our strong opposition to attempts by Members of Congress to increase the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2018 budget above both the budget caps set by the Budget Control Act and the President’s budget request. The Pentagon is currently funded at a higher level than at almost any time since World War II, and the budget problems it faces should be solved by better fiscal management, not by adding more money to an already bloated and wasteful department.
The challenges facing our military are partially the result of years of failing to make the necessary, tough choices our nation’s security requires. Rather than prioritizing basic needs of the warfighter, lawmakers have pursued huge, expensive weapons systems that fail to meet technical specifications and may never be ready for combat. Waste and unnecessary overhead abound, with a Defense Business Board study showing that the Department of Defense could save up to $125 billion over five years just by eliminating excess bureaucracy and inefficiencies.
Claims of a so-called “readiness crisis” are exaggerated. As former DoD Comptroller Robert Hale said in February, these claims are just the services “putting their worst foot forward” in the hopes of securing funding increases. General David Petraeus has also said that this idea of a readiness crisis is a myth. By opposing important cost-saving measures like base realignment and closure which could save several billion dollars a year just by closing excess infrastructure, Congress is demonstrating that it is not prioritizing fiscal responsibility or making the choices that will actually keep us safe. Moreover, the Pentagon cannot be sure what it is spending as it is the only federal agency that has never passed an audit.
Budgets necessitate tradeoffs. Pentagon spending increases shortchange other important priorities, from domestic needs including education, health and nutrition and affordable housing, to paying down the national debt. Further increasing the Pentagon’s budget by tens of billions of dollars without a clear strategy will do little to solve national security challenges. Rather, it will simply guarantee further wasteful spending at the Pentagon. We hope that you will oppose any attempts to increase the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2018.
American Friends Service Committee
Center for International Policy
Coalition on Human Needs
Council for a Livable World
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Iraq Veterans Against the War
National Coalition for the Homeless
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Taxpayers United of America
The Libertarian Institute
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions