McCaskill Questions Equipment Waste for MO National Guard

McCaskill
Questions Equipment Waste for MO National Guard

Also
discusses future of MO-produced C-17s at Armed Services
Hearing

WASHINGTON,
D.C.

U.S. Senator
Claire McCaskill today questioned
several Commanders of regional military commands on a series of issues related
to equipment use. Her questions included whether Missouri National Guard
equipment was multi-purpose enough to justify the cost, whether Boeing’s C-17
was being overused as an abusive budgetary maneuver, and who would be
responsible for ensuring the U.S. Armed Services would recover equipment
purchased for use by contractors in Iraq.

With a local interest in
mind, McCaskill expressed concern that the equipment acquired by the Missouri
National Guard for their service in military conflicts could also be used in
Missouri when
faced with floods and ice storms. Understanding that there has been an increased
demand on the National Guard as the emphasis over the past several years has
evolved from a strategic role to an operational one, McCaskill suggested that
while some equipment could fulfill dual purposes at home and aboard, strictly
military related equipment would be costly and impractical in Missouri. She implied
that there should be a balance of military equipment and cheaper equipment that
can be used for disaster missions in the state.

“As we talk about the
National Guard and equipment it seems to me that there is this rub between
civilian needs of equipment and military needs,” McCaskill said. “I’m worried
that we’re spending big, big money on humvees when a real good utility SUV for a
fraction of the cost is what we should be buying.”

General Victor Renuart,
who in his role as Commander of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) oversees
manning, equipping and training issues related to large numbers of National
Guard and Reserve members, assured McCaskill that there is diligence paid at the
highest levels to ensure the Guard and Reserve receive the types of equipment
and vehicles needed for response to domestic
emergencies.

McCaskill, who is known
for watching out for typical budget maneuvers used to hide large spending
allocations from the public eye, questioned the Commander of the US
Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) about what appeared to be an odd trend related
to overuse of the C-17 military aircraft. Noting the absence of a request for
additional C-17, she questioned General Duncan McNabb if the true motive was to
neglect to include the cost of additional C-17’s knowing that the need would be
so severe, the additional aircraft would be supplied by Congress anyway as an
“add-on”.

“We’re utilizing the
C-17 at 159 percent; we’re flying the wings off those things,” McCaskill said.
“Why are you all not asking for more, and could it be that you all are
encouraging our bad habits? In terms of being parochial, if you don’t ask for
it, you all know we’ll pile it on and put it in the budget
anyway.”

Additionally, McCaskill
highlighted and questioned McNabb on the issue of so called “white property”,
which is government-owned heavy equipment and vehicles that have been purchased
for contractors for their use in Iraq. McCaskill has repeatedly called
for the Department of Defense to account for this equipment in its drawdown
plans over the next 18 months, concerned that the government and taxpayers might
lose millions of dollars of this gear to loss, fraud and waste.