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U.S. Pentagon fails to account for over $3 trillion for 6th year in a row

The Pentagon has failed its independent annual audit for the sixth year in a row, as US defense officials could not provide auditors with enough information to form a full accounting evaluation, according to the Defense Department’s yearly financial report released on Thursday.

“Auditing the department’s $3.8 trillion in assets and $4 trillion in liabilities is a massive undertaking,” Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord said.

The 2023 audit gave a “disclaimer of opinion,” which means the Pentagon could not provide auditors enough financial data to allow them to form an opinion. An unqualified, or “clean,” opinion is the highest possible rating and a qualified opinion is an acceptable rating. Both mean that auditors were given enough information to make a complete judgement.

In 2022, the Pentagon only managed to account for 39 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. With this failure, the Pentagon has kept its spot as the only US government agency to have never passed a comprehensive audit. It also highlights the US war department’s persistent lack of internal financial control, its poor budget estimations and rampant overspending.

A clear example of this is the F-35 program, which has gone over its original budget by $165 billion to build a plane tasked to perform many different tasks, none of which it does well.The Pentagon is slated to buy more than 2,400 F-35s for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy. The estimated lifetime cost for procuring and operating these planes – $1.7 trillion – would make it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons project ever.

A 2021 Pentagon assessment of the F-35 found 800 unresolved defects in the plane. There is also the current plan to expand Washington’s ship production, as part of the Pentagon’s obsession with preparing for a potential war with China.

While the Pentagon estimates the average cost of this shipbuilding initiative to be $27 billion per year between 2023 and 2052, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) contends this, claiming that the average annual cost of the plan will be over $31 billion, meaning the Navy is underestimating costs by $120 billion.

Furthermore, in 2019 alone, the Pentagon made $35 trillion in accounting adjustments – a figure larger than the entire US economy.The Pentagon budget is not only gargantuan, but replete with waste – from vast overcharges for spare parts, and weapons that don’t work, to forever wars with far reaching human and economic consequences.

These shadowy practices have, however, boosted the profits of US weapons makers like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman, with major gains made despite the challenges posed by inflation and supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Along the same lines, the US government is expected to reach a $1 trillion defense budget by 2027, if not before. The defense budget has expanded as a result of both the war in 2022 between Ukraine and Russia, which many analysts argue was sparked by Washington, and the recent outbreak of war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which Washington refuses to de-escalate.

On October 20, US President Joe Biden asked the US Congress to provide $106 billion in supplemental funding for Israel, Ukraine, and the US border. The request includes $30 billion for the Department of Defense to help supply Ukraine with weapons and replenish US stocks. There is also $14.4 billion to support military intelligence in Ukraine and $481 million to help assist Ukrainians arriving in the US.
The request comes at at time when the US deficit has sky rocketed, reaching over $33 trillion, both due to government spending and paying higher interest on debit. The Federal Reserve has aggressively raised interest rates in the past two years to fight inflation resulting from stimulus during the Covid lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Article: Pentagon fails to account for over $3 trillion for 6th year in a row 

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