Pentagon found $125 billion in waste, then tried to bury the report

The Pentagon's $125 billion waste alone would be enough to fund the world's third-most expensive military

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 6, 2016 4:00PM (EST)


As of January 2015, the Pentagon had wasted roughly $125 billion.

At least this is what The Washington Post claims in a story by Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward on Monday. According to the report, the Pentagon issued an internal report on Jan. 22, 2015, entitled "Transforming DoD's Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change." In that study, the Pentagon claimed that a "clear path" existed for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years without laying off military personnel or civil servants.

"Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology," The Washington Post writes.

The Washington Post also claimed that the Pentagon initially supported the study because it called for using that $125 billion for troops, weapons, and rebuilding America's nuclear arsenal.

When other Pentagon leaders became concerned that the study would have the unintended effect of contradicting the military's longstanding claim that cutting their budget would provide them with inadequate funds, they became concerned that the study would prompt politicians in the White House and Congress to cut their budget instead of giving them more money for the projects they wanted, the Post reported. The study was suppressed and its data subjected to secrecy restrictions.

According to a fact sheet issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in April 2016, the five countries with the highest military expenditures in 2015 were the United States with $596 billion, China with $215 billion, Saudi Arabia with $87.2 billion, Russia with $66.4 billion, and the United Kingdom with $55.5 billion. This means that, if these figures are accurate, the amount of waste discovered in the Pentagon's report is nearly twice as much as all of Russian military spending, as well as greater than the combined military spending of both Russia and the United Kingdom.

Indeed, the Pentagon's $125 billion waste alone would be enough to fund the world's third-most expensive military.

A parting, but equally relevant, thought:

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

American Military Defense Budget Defense Spending Military Budget Pentagon