One of the main talking points in the raucous US presidential election is the issue of defence spending, in particular Donald Trumps’ bombastic insistence that:
“I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now… It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less.”
Unusually for the analphabetic bloviator he may have point with the latter claim when one looks at the dismal accounting practices and history of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Armed Forces. According to a report issued by the Defense Department Inspector General, in 2015 the US Army alone accumulated for some $6.5 trillion dollars in accountancy errors. Remember, the total budget for the DoD is under $6 billion dollars. That makes the financial irregularities of one branch of the American forces several times greater than the country’s entire military budget! From Reuters:
“The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.
The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.
As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”
Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense Department for decades.”
Is it any wonder that the United States’ overseas misadventures since the end of the Cold War have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars going missing, completely untraceable by government auditors?