Congress is Forcing the Pentagon to Keep Equipment it Doesn't Want

Credit: Staff Sgt. John McDowell/wikicommonsCredit: Staff Sgt. John McDowell/wikicommonsCongress will not allow the military to retire equipment it doesn’t want. According to the Associated Press there are more than a dozen C-5A Galaxy transport planes at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas that the Air Force has not intention of using.

At military bases across the country the military is receiving mixed signals. While Congress has approved spending cuts it will not allow for some equipment the military would like to retire to be discarded.

The problem, as the AP report reports, is that politicians are not very keen to have bases closed or programs moved from their districts. Despite the fact that the Air Force believed that hundreds of millions of dollars would be saved if certain planes were retired Congress had other ideas.

From the AP:

While the Navy sought to retire the seven ships, the Air Force wanted to save more than $600 million by retiring C-130 and C-5A cargo aircraft, three B-1 bombers and 18 high-altitude Global Hawk surveillance drones.

Congress disagreed, adding various requirements that the Navy and Air Force maintain the ships and aircraft, and in some cases added money to the budget to cover them. Fifteen of the C-5A Galaxy aircraft no longer set to retire are at Lackland, while 11 are at Martinsburg, W.Va., and are flown by the Air National Guard there.

The story comes amid news that Lockheed Martin is expecting to see a fall in sales in 2013 because of the budget cuts that politicians seem to support but be hesitant to implement. First quarter sales at the defense contractor were reportedly down because of fewer sales of F-16 jets and C-130 transport planes.

So, despite our vast defense budget it looks like American taxpayers will still be paying for equipment that the Pentagon does not want because of politicians possibly having to face some of their constituents. 

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  • SugarFree||

    Nothing left to cut! Down the bone! The bone!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Yeah, this crap really infuriates me. Of all the places - the DoD(!) - comes up with honest to God cuts and the swine in Congress won't let them happen.

  • Paul.||

    NPR was elated this morning that finally, finally they could point to a real effect of the sequstrapocalypse: furloughed ATC doodz. 6000 delayed flights... PER DAY! Because a 1.8% cut slowdown in growth!

  • Pro Libertate||

    We can't afford to lose jobs during this poor economic climate. Congressional jobs are on the line, people!

  • fish||

    You didn't get a Harumph from that guy....the one over at the end of the table.

    You watch your ass!

  • UnCivilServant||

    You can't fire me, I'm constitutionally mandated. I'll only Harumph when I care.

  • robc||

    Seems like retiring or not a plane is an executive department issue. The congress can fund it all they want, but the head of the Air Force and Navy can retire away as long as the President doesnt overrule them, and congress cant do dick about it.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Take the B-1s and scrap them for parts. Take the C-5s and turn them into firefighter training aids.

  • Tim||

    They'd make great tankers no?

  • Steve G||

    NO

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    They might make good commercial transports. Keeping in mind that a lot of freight airlines started up with old military planes that were totally inappropriate for their needs.

  • Steve G||

    They weren't nearly as expensive to operate as these pigs. There's a reason we're upgrading the rest of the fleet to M-model configuration. No one really wants a small sub-fleet of soon-to-be unsupportable aircraft.
    But in the end they might be offered up for those purposes, but I'll bet no one bites.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Disposable planes. They could probably make money in Africa.

  • Agammamon||

    I don't see why they can't just park the MF's at the edge of the airfield and let them rot.

    On a side note: can you imagine being the aircrew of one of these planes? I mean you're trained to fly an AC that your service has no real use for and is trying to get rid of. Do the guys who graduate BoC get these assignments?

  • Brett L||

    I always figured these were the pilots who got caught taking the phrase "screwed the pooch" literally.

  • Tim||

    Aren't there museums that would want this stuff?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    No. They mostly don't have the money to transport huge planes and store or display them properly. B-1 maybe, C-130 and C-5 hell no.

  • Rasilio||

    B-1's and Global Hawks maybe, problem is that there are lots of foreign countries for whom they would represent significant technological upgrades, for the C-5's no sorry they take up too much space and are about as interesting to see as a Ford Econoline cargo van at a car museum

  • Paul.||

    "It's time to turn off the War Machine, and turn on our children... *cough* turn ON our children!"

  • Hugh Akston||

    Can't the DoD recover the retirement costs by selling off the equipment?

  • Paul.||

    This logic seems circular. I like it.

  • Agammamon||

    Maybe, maybe not, depenmds on those costs.

    Navy did something similar with an Offshore Petroleu Discharge System (a way to get POL and water from ships to shore without having to go pierside) rig that had become obsolete and had an improved replacement system already online. We basically gave it to the Omani's in return for being able to use one of their airfields.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why does the Pentagon want to destroy all those jobs?

  • fish||

    Why does the Pentagon want to destroy all those jobs?

    It's obvious that they hatez the children!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Feeney, you know you don't want to keep that alt-text. Give it to us; we will take it off your hands.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Imagine my surprise.

  • Matrix||

    And this is what really pisses me off. As most know, I work for DoD (specifically Army). I manage parts for Army equipment. We are being denied funding to buy spares because we don't have money. So we have vehicles that are NMCS because we cannot get the parts. And some less than critical parts are on backorder for several years.

    But Congress, in its infinite wisdom, wants to toss money at legacy items that have no use for the military and shun weapon systems we currently use?

    Congress messes stuff up all the time. You want to know why weapon systems often cost a hell of a lot more than they should? Politics. Everyone wants a slice of the pie, so they have to make it bigger.

  • Nazdrakke||

    THIS

  • fish||

    That's a bold statement.

  • Not an Economist||

    The DoD acquisition system is designed to maximize inefficiency and waste.

    A service will decide they need 10 widgets next year and 8 next year. Congress will cut the first buy to 5 and then wonder why the next 8 cost more per unit.

    Generals will demand something get rushed to service before all the bugs are ironed out, and then bureacrats try to kill the program when the bugs cause problems while while the generals praise the effectiveness of the platform.

    The DoD will spend ungodly amounts of money to make sure it buys the cheapest product, and gets scammed anyway.

    You would be hardpressed to design a sytem that supposedly is supposed to save money, yet is so inefficient.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Take the B-1s and scrap them for parts.

    Are you trying to give John Thune a heart attack, you monster?

  • Matrix||

    can't scrap 'em! DLA ran out money, and they can't even afford to scrap shit! (no joke!)

  • Steve G||

    None of this is surprising to those of us in the 5-sided bldg...

    Which is why I laugh everytime they come around asking for "good ideas" to save money. If they were really good ones, they'd never pass congressional scrutiny.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    When the DOD is more fiscally responsible than Congress...

    I've decided I hate people.

  • fish||

    I've decided I hate people.

    Just now?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I'm just now coming to accept it.

  • Tim||

    Isn't there some vicious third world shithole that wants these weapons? Like France?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Congress: We're not averse to raising the retirement age after all!

  • Tim||

    Pawnstars:

    "I have this vintage 1974 C-5 Galaxy I want to sell. The Air force was leaving them parked on the run way so my dad took one home. I got no use for it. I want to get enough to take my wife to dinner and maybe play some blackjack after."

  • Bobarian||

    You guys are missing the whole point here. This is a political dick-dance that has been going on for years. The intent of the Pentagon and the Services is revealed in this snippet:

    "...some cases added money to the budget to cover them"

    If you threaten things that have support, Big Ben's magical money tree will cough up extra funds so you can keep it. The Air Force and Navy always threaten systems that the Army is interested in, like transports and close air support. DOD does the Congressional District math and figures who will have a kitten when system x is on the block.
    It's a balancing act that goes on in every budget.

  • Bobarian||

    Cont:

    When you really want to retire a system, you find some other lucrative sytem to take its place, and boom, all of a sudden you've got support.

  • LarryA||

    When you really want to retire a system, you find some other lucrative system from the same Congressman's district to take its place, and boom, all of a sudden you've got support.

  • Steve G||

    eh, not so much. The army's transport requirements are met even w/ the C-130/C-5 retirement and this was coordinated with them.
    That and you took the quote out of context. The full quote is saying congress put back some money to minimally maintain/operate the "un-retired" aircraft.

  • DRM||

    No, not this time. 52 C-5Ms and 224 C-17s is plenty of large airlift. Keeping 26 non-upgraded C-5As is basically pointless.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If they *give* me a C-5, I'll park it on my property and turn it into a bed and breakfast.

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