Dr. Coburn on “Non-Defense” defense spending

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) last week released an oversight report, “Department of Everything.” The report outlines how DOD can save $67.9 billion over ten years by making specific cuts to what Dr. Coburn describes as “non-defense” defense spending – spending that DOD can cut without cutting vital defense priorities.  

“I believe in peace through strength but we cannot be strong militarily unless we are strong economically.  And we cannot be strong economically if we treat politically-sensitive areas of the budget as sacrosanct. 

"At a time when our own military leaders are calling our debt our greatest national security threat we need to look at every area of the budget for potential savings.  No part of the budget can be taken off the table.  Achieving peace through strength, and getting our debt under control, must involve refocusing the Pentagon on its core mission,” said Dr. Coburn.   

“I prepared this report because the American people expect the Pentagon’s $600 billion annual budget to go toward our nation’s defense,” Dr. Coburn added.  “That isn’t happening.  Billions of defense dollars are being spent on programs and missions that have little or nothing to do with national security, or are already being performed by other government agencies.  Spending more on grocery stores than guns doesn’t make any sense. And using defense dollars to run microbreweries, study Twitter slang, create beef jerky, or examine Star Trek does nothing to defend our nation.”

The $67.9 billion in savings in the “Department of Everything” report could pay for a third of the cost of the planned fleet of new strategic bombers for the Air Force.  It could, likewise, pay a third of the cost of the fleet of Ohio-class replacement nuclear submarines for the Navy.  For the Army, $16 billion over ten years – about 25 percent of the savings in the report – could mean robust funding for modernization or purchase of new rifles and light machine guns for every soldier.

Five areas in DOD highlighted in the report that have little to do with defense include:

•    Non-Military Research and Development ($6 billion)
•    Education ($15.2 billion)
•    Alternative Energy ($700 million)
•    Grocery Stores ($9 billion)  
•    Overhead, Support and Supply Services ($37 billion)

In addition, the report found:

•    Pentagon-branded beef jerky (p. 22);
•    A reality cooking show called Grill it Safe featuring two “Grill Sergeants” who performed a 46-minute cooking video (p. 8);
•    Pentagon-run microbreweries (p. 8);
•    A smart phone app to alert users when to take a coffee break (p. 20);
•    A bomb detector less effective than “a coin flip” (p. 15);
•    Research examining the social interaction between robots and babies (p. 31);
•    A workshop asking “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” (p. 16);
•    More flag officers per troop than at the height of the Cold War (p. 69)
•    DOD overhead expenses greater than Israel’s GDP (p. 69)

To read the full report, click here.