Anything we can do they can do better – wasteful defence spending in the USA

I wrote a little while ago about Australian Defence issues, including regular problems with cost blows in the purchasing of defence equipment.

I noted a story in The Washington Post (link found though The Daily Briefing) about a defence procurement scandal in the USA. It is not only reminiscent of Australia’s failings on a larger scale, it also has echoes of the AWB scandal as far as memory loss of the Minister is concerned.

USA Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld told investigators “he was unsure how his department came to nearly squander $30 billion leasing several hundred new tanker aircraft that its own experts had decided were not needed.”

when investigators asked him whether he had approved the Boeing tanker lease in May 2003 — despite widespread violations of Pentagon and government-wide procurement rules along the way — Rumsfeld said: “I don’t remember approving it. But I certainly don’t remember not approving it, if you will.”

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4 Comments

  1. That Washington Post story mentioned a former U.S. Air Force officer going to jail for being too much of a pal to a corporation selling military equipment ….. fat chance of that ever happening in Australia.

    It’s hard to know which should win the booby-prize for rorts, rackets and shonks ….. Defence (Defense), especially equipment procurement? Health, especially solid-gold pharmaceuticals and ethicals? …. or others.

  2. “I certainly don’t remember not approving it” … he likes his negative space, does ol’ Rummy. Reminds me of his earlier “there are unknowns that are known” speech.

  3. I have been reluctant to say too much here lest I bring even more trouble down on my own head ….. but what the hell, here goes ….

    There have been far too many accidents, cost blow-outs, late deliveries, performance failures. unworldly prices, cover-ups and so on in defence procurements than can be rationally explained by multiple unlucky component failures in highly complex equipment, by mass stupidity and incompetence, by clandestine enemy sabotage or by inauspicious alignments of the stars.

    Having exhausted all other reasonable explanations, it is my own personal opinion – for which I have absolutely no proof whatsoever – that there are two possibilities to account for such an extraordinarily large number of defence procurement scandals in Australia over so many years:

    The first – and most hopeful – explanation is that there is a tight-knit little clique of utterly corrupt ADF officers and Defence public servants who don’t give a damn who gets killed so long as they get their kick-backs. I said “hopefully” because they would be far easier to deal with than the next bunch.

    The second – and far worse – explanation is that there is a clique of high-minded, spotlessly honest ADF officers and Defence officials gullible enough to be manipulated by the purveyors of ordnance to do exactly the same thing for free!

    I really do hope I am completely wrong ….. but I don’t think there’s much chance of that.

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