Follow Defense Audit With Honest Reform

Perhaps the Pentagon’s decision to launch a comprehensive audit demanded for years by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is progress. We’ll believe it when we see it.

If history is any guide, the Defense Department will spend too much on an audit that covers up massive misspending, then will ignore the results.

Manchin and like-minded lawmakers have tried since 2012 to gain passage of bills requiring that the Pentagon audit itself. All failed. This year, however, they included an audit provision in a major defense appropriations bill that was signed into law.

Wasteful spending in the name of national defense is nothing new. Former President Dwight Eisenhower warned about the “military-industrial complex” more than half a century ago.

Since then, at regular intervals, outragous waste has been reported. There have been $436 hammers, $640 toilet seats, $7,622 coffee makers and much, much more.

Somehow, it persists, perhaps because Eisenhower left Congress out of his complex warning.

In 2010, Congress earmarked $2.5 billion for 10 new C-17 aircraft that the Air Force said it did not need.

At least the audit — if performed comprehensively and honestly — may detail the extent of the problem. Let us hope it results in action. Every dollar wasted by the military is one less for more effective weapons — and better protection for those serving in uniform.

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