The June 1 article “The cost of war: Bottom line will be big factor in troop-reduction talks” approached a topic that in the next few years will stand at the forefront of our nation’s consciousness. Where it approached, I want to indulge and explore. It is a topic I wrestle with in my mind every day, a match in which afterward I stand victorious yet my opponent stands again unscratched.

President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about this juggernaut, the military-industrial complex and the cost of war, long ago, yet here we are asking ourselves how it came to this and how we can possibly continue our current operation tempo while cutting the defense budget. There are never any certain answers to these national problems. There are endless arguments and examples of how the military could use its money more effectively, just as there are as many arguments and examples of how it uses it well. But there are three specific areas of current military spending that are not only blatantly unnecessary, they also seem to be a phenomenon of the current war. They are expenses that can only be incurred when time and money are unlimited, as is the case in our current 10-year war.

So what are these luxury expenses? Take a step down to the lowest level of our military, down to the soldiers and leaders who physically embody the policies our nation makes, ask them their opinion on practical ways to manage the military’s budget and what is costing us so much, and likely you will hear some combination of three things: the universal fielding of new (and often unneeded) equipment; civilian contracting; and the incredibly high prices of repair parts.

First Lt. Zachary T. Willey

Forward Operating Base Kunduz, Afghanistan

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now