By BEN FREEMAN
This, as with all, Veterans Day will be filled with politicians from both sides of the aisle declaring their unshakable support for our military veterans and all the brave servicemen and women in the U.S. military. Republicans at this Saturday’s Presidential debate and Democrats on the Sunday morning talk shows will try to convince the American public that their support for the troops is unparalleled.
It will be a veritable parade of phony patriotism, because the brave soldiers on the ground, who have given so much -– sometimes everything -– for their country, have not received unparalleled support from their government. In the U.S. military budget, they have taken a backseat to service contractors.
Politicians won’t mention it, nor will Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, or anyone at the DoD, but every year since the war in Afghanistan began more than ten years ago, the DoD has paid service contractors more than all of our men and women and uniform.
In fact, in fiscal year 2010, the DoD paid service contractors nearly $250 billion, which is more than they paid all DoD civilian and uniformed personnel, combined. Yet, based upon the best estimates of contractor numbers, which are notoriously hard to count, there are far fewer contractors than DoD civilian and uniformed personnel.
On this Veteran’s Day, with significant cuts to the DoD’s budget a distinct possibility in this debt deal, politicians can be truly patriotic and honor both the troops and taxpayers by cutting wasteful spending on defense contractors.
Ben Freeman is the POGO National Security Fellow
Flickr image from The U.S. Army