After several decades of nation-building and trillions of dollars missing or improperly recorded, the long-awaited audit of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has finally begun. On Wednesday, the Defense Department Comptroller David Norquist told lawmakers in Washington that the DoD’s first-ever department wide audit will cost about $367 million in 2018 and an additional $551 million to fix the problems.
Norquist, who testified before the House Armed Services Committee, said Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan are in full support of the audit. Back in May 2017, President Trump appointed Norquist to finally put the military’s financial house back in order after many years of delays.
What is surprising, if only in retrospect, is that according to the World Economic Forum, U.S. Department of Defense has been named the largest employer in the world with some 3.2 million members on its payroll and $2.4 trillion in assets but has never administered a full audit. .
“This is the first time the department will undergo a full financial statement audit,”he said. “A financial statement audit is comprehensive and occurs annually and it covers more than financial management,” Norquist explained to Lawmakers.
The purpose of the audit will document military equipment and real property along with condition and location. “It tests the vulnerability of our security systems and it validates the accuracy of personnel records and actions,” Norquist said.
DoD News says that 1,200 auditors are currently working on the project to assess the books.
The department will have 1,200 financial statement auditors assessing the books and records to develop a true account of the state of the department, the comptroller said. It will take time to pass all the process and system changes necessary to pass the audit and get a so-called “clean opinion,” he said. He noted that it took the Department of Homeland Security — a much smaller and newer agency — 10 years to get a clean audit.
“But we don’t have to wait to see the benefits of a clean opinion,” Norquist said. “The financial statement audit helps drive enterprise improvements to standardize our business practices and improve the quality of our data.”
DoD News made an interesting observation how the audit will provide “information and accountability to the American people.” Why now? How come all of a sudden the DoD wants to become transparent to the American people? Perhaps, it is due to Washington’s two-decades of failed nation-building throughout the rest of the world, although it is unlikely.
Norquist said, “the taxpayers deserve the same level of confidence as a shareholder that DoD’s financial statement presents a true and accurate picture of its financial condition and operations. Transparency, accountability and business process reform are some of the benefits of a financial statement audit.”
And in a preview of what is to come, Norquist told the House Armed Services Committee that an initial Army audit found 39 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter ($830,700,000) were not adequately recorded in the property system. “The Air Force identified 478 structures and buildings at 12 installations that were not in its real property system,” he added. In other words these helicopters were simply “missing” on the books.
Alas, the mismanagement within the DoD doesn’t stop there: in a recent report, the U.S. military lost some 44,000 troops across the globe in a country location labeled as “Unknown.”
Going even deeper into the rabbit hole, Mark Skidmore, a Professor of Economics at MSU specializing in public finance, found the Department of Defense and Housing & Urban Development may have spent as much as $21 trillion on mysterious items between 1998 and 2015.
“This is incomplete, but we have found $21 trillion in adjustments over that period. The biggest chunk is for the Army. We were able to find 13 of the 17 years and we found about $11.5 trillion just for the Army,” Skidmore said.
Considering that today’s already known accounting blunders at the Department of Defense are no small matter, we wonder what the 1,200 auditors will find when they perform the first ever dive down the rabbit hole of decades of failed proxy wars, regime changes and dictator slush funds in history?
WATCH: Israel Blows Up Hamas TV Station
The escalation in violence began when earlier in the day Monday thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven militants killed during the Israeli commando raid and accompanying aircraft cover fire that resulted in strikes on the strip, which further led to sporadic rocket fire from Hamas.
One Israeli soldier was reported killed during the high risk operation which reportedly involved the commandos entering Gaza by civilian car in order to take out a gathering of Hamas military leaders.
During the Gaza funeral the crowd chanted “revenge” amidst masked gunmen in camouflage.
Apparently that “revenge” came in the form of a mortar shell fired from Gaza which scored a direct hit on a bus in southern Israel, severely wounding a 19-year-old Israeli. According to multiple regional reports this was followed by a barrage of over 100 rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel within only an hour’s time. Israeli sources have reported multiple injuries and extensive damage from the rockets, many of which may have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
طيران الاحتلال الحربي يقصف ويدمر مقر فضائية الاقصى بغزة. pic.twitter.com/VSnUpYUb2s
— شجاعية (@shejae3a) November 12, 2018
China Readies Drills To ‘Simulate An Invasion Of Taiwan’
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has launched a six-day, live-fire military exercise in the East China Sea in a region that simulates an invasion of Taiwan, a move military strategist believe will send a powerful message to the United States over relations with Taipei.
Geopolitical intelligence analysts told the South China Morning Post that the exercise is part of Beijing’s effort to increase military readiness and defend the “one China” policy, under which leaked documents specify Beijing has asecret plan to invade Taiwan by 2020.
The exercise began on Wednesday at 8:00 am and is expected to conclude at 6:00 pm on July 23. All non-military vessels are prohibited from entering the designated live-fire drill area and must follow the guidance of guard ships to ensure safety, stated a public notice released by Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration on Monday.
The exercise’s coordinates below provided by the administration shows the drill spans from the shores of Zhoushan, East China’s Zhejiang Province to sea areas east of Wenzhou, also in Zhejiang Province.
The exercise is intended to warn the “Taiwan independence” forces, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“The drill’s main objective is to send a serious warning to Taiwan separatists,” Song said.
An unnamed military expert also told the Global Times on Tuesday that parts of the East China Sea will be “the main battlefield” if a conflict breaks out in the future.
“The PLA Air Force and Navy have been frequently conducting island encirclement exercises. The drill this time will add up and form a military deterrence of high pressure against the Taiwan separatists,” according to Song.
Trump Appreciates Navy Grads By Shaking All Their Hands
ou usually don’t expect commencement speakers to stick around long after the speech is over, especially not when the speaker is the president.
However, when the venue is the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, things are a bit different. And, when the president is Donald Trump, things are a lot different.
In fact, he not only stuck around to shake hands with each and every grad following his commence address on Friday, he actually asked them whether he could do it.
“I was given an option. I could make this commencement address, which is a great honor for me, and immediately leave and wave goodbye,” Trump asked the audience. “Or I could stay and shake hands with just the top 100. Or I could stay for hours and shake hands with 1,100 and something. What should I do? What should I do?”
Well, stay, of course. And stay he did.
During the speech itself, the president gave a rousing tribute both to the graduates themselves and to the American spirit.
“Four years ago, each of you made the most important decision of your lives,” the president told the graduates. “You chose the path of hard work, sweat, and sacrifice. You chose the life of honor, courage, and commitment. You chose to serve the nation and defend our great American flag. You chose the Navy, blue and gold, from the first moments of induction day.”