Out of the 29 sub-audits of the DoD's various services, only seven passed this year, which showed no improvement over the last year. These audits only began taking place in 2017, which means that the Pentagon has never successfully passed one. According to the Government Accountability Office, "auditors were unable to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion."
This year's "failure" made some headlines, was commented upon briefly by the mainstream media, and then just as quickly forgotten by an American society accustomed to pouring money down the black hole of defense spending, Ritter commented. Ritter, who served as a chief weapons inspector with the United Nations in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, pointed out that the Pentagon cannot fully account for the $3.8 trillion in assets and $4 trillion in liabilities it has accrued at U.S. taxpayer expense, ostensibly in defense of the United States and its allies. It would be significant to note that DoD's budget is a massive $877 billion, dwarfing the $849 billion spent by the next ten nations with the largest defense expenditures.
Reports also stated that President Joe Biden's administration seeks $886 billion for next year's defense budget. Worse, Congress seems prepared to augment an additional $80 billion to that amount. "The nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars to be spent speaks volumes about the overall bankrupt nature of the American establishment," Ritter further discussed. The RT article highlighted how Americans have grown accustomed to seeing big numbers when it comes to defense spending. However, the DoD increasingly physically resembles the numbers on the ledgers the accountants have been trying to balance – "it just doesn't add up," the "Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union" author further said.
He cited how some $2.3 trillion on a two-decade military misadventure in Afghanistan was spent by the government. And despite this, the American people witnessed the ignominious retreat from that nation live on TV in August 2021. A $758 billion investment in the 2003 invasion after 10 years of occupation of Iraq also went down the drain when the U.S. withdrew in 2011, only to return in 2014 for another decade of chasing down ISIS. The government has spent more than $1.8 trillion in total on its 20-year "invasion efforts" in Iraq and Syria.
"As it turns out, the U.S. military is as hollow as the numbers on the Pentagon ledgers. The American people have bought an apparatus that is incapable of fighting and winning a major war against any of the potential opponents arrayed against it," Ritter said. "We failed to defeat Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban. And we are not able to defeat either China or Russia, let alone regional powers like North Korea and Iran. And yet we will simply continue to invest, in seemingly unquestioning fashion, into this enterprise, expecting somehow that a system that cannot pass an audit will somehow magically produce a different result even though we, the American people, are doing nothing to demand such a result." (Related: U.S. Treasury running out of new buyers of debt, enters debt spiral thanks to reckless government spending.)
Before the whole of America wakes up to the government's continued gigantic defense spending, Biden and his administration declared their strong support for the swift passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as Congress rushed to complete the $886 billion defense policy bill before the end of the year.
"The NDAA provides the critical authorities we need to build the military required to deter future conflicts while supporting the service members and their spouses and families who carry out that mission every day," the White House said in a statement. The Senate and House are both expected to approve the fiscal 2024 bill later this week, then send it to the Oval Office for Biden to sign into law. The Senate backed a procedural measure ending debate on the measure by 85 to 15 on Tuesday, far beyond the 60 needed to advance the measure to a final vote.
NDAA governs everything from pay raises for the troops to purchases of ships and aircraft to policies such as support for Ukraine. This year's wage hikes will be 5.2 percent. It also includes a four-month extension of a key domestic surveillance authority, giving lawmakers more time to either reform or keep the disputed program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).