National Security

Pentagon Spent Over $1 Million Studying Rat Personalities


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Sen. John McCain is calling out the ridiculous, frivolous ways the Pentagon spends taxpayer dollars in a his semi-annual “America’s Most Wasted” report released Monday.

“As our Armed Forces confront the most diverse and complex array of national security challenges since the end of World War II under extraordinarily constrained fiscal resources, we simply cannot afford to waste our precious defense dollars on unnecessary or poorly performing programs,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said in a statement.

Among the examples the Republican senator gives are weapons programs that fail to meet objectives but still cost billions of dollars. (RELATED: McCain Calls Out $13 Billion Wasted On Ships That Don’t Work)

Here are three examples of Department of Defense projects McCain sees as wasteful in light of the nation’s $19 trillion debt.

$1.3 million to study the personality of giant rats

For several years, the DoD has funded research into using African giant pouched rats to sniff out mines in remote regions. The program hasn’t shown that rats are any better at finding unexploded ordnance than dogs.

Researchers at Cornell University received grant money to study mating habits of the rats and conduct behavioral tests to determine what makes rats “hawkish” or “dovish.”

One company saw some positive results from the rats. Greg Crowther, a United Kingdom adviser to the project in Southeast Asia, told The Associated Press that he didn’t think rats “can add a whole lot to what dogs can do,” and he could not “envision hordes of rats wiping out mine fields in Cambodia.”

“It is unacceptable in light of current budget constraints that limited defense resources are being used to conduct genetic sequencing, cross breeding, and behavior analysis on large rodents, especially when they do not demonstrate a substantially greater capability than the dogs we already have,” McCain’s report concludes.

$12 million wasted buying defective airplane parts

The Pentagon buys billions of dollars worth of replacement parts for aircraft and weapons systems each year, and some amount of those products are broken or defective when they are delivered. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has a process for getting refunds from contractors on defective parts, but the DoD Office of the Inspector General estimates that the aviation arm of the DLA didn’t recover at least $12 million worth of defective material.

Even worse, according to McCain, the defective products were stored in military storehouses, at risk of being used, “potentially endangering our service members and their missions in the process.”

$1 million spent on gambling and strip clubs by DoD employees

Military personnel, including officers, civilian staff and civilian contractors, can bill travel expenses to the DoD. In one year, the Pentagon found 5,000 cases where someone on the DoD payroll used travel cards for questionable entertainment.

“DOD employees repeatedly abused their government travel cards at casinos and strip clubs,” McCain says. “More troubling, they got away with it, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.” (RELATED: US General Tipped A ‘Hooker Hill’ Strip Club 81 Percent On His Government Credit Card)

“Any personal use of a government travel card is considered misuse,” McCain says, but the real problem is that the misuse should have been easily caught by the officials approving the expense reports.

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