Mr. Chairman, over the past four years the Department of Defense has spent a stunning $1.55 billion on military bands, musical performances, and concert tours around the world. That’s right, $1.55 billion in taxpayer funds in four years for military bands.
This amendment reduces Pentagon spending for military bands and musical performances from the $388 million in this bill to $200 million for fiscal year 2013. The $188 million reduction is transferred to the deficit reduction account.
In the National Defense Authorization Act – H.R. 4310 – this House included language to limit the authorization for “military musical units” not to exceed $200 million. This amendment conforms with the defense authorization while cutting spending by $188 million.
With our nation in a fiscal crisis, the Pentagon is on pace to spend $4 billion over the next decade on military bands!
Is the United States really going to borrow from China and other foreign countries so the Defense Department can spend billions for its 140 bands and more than 5,000 full-time professional musicians?
The Air Force announced reductions in bands in March of this year, cutting three bands and reducing the size of two others. One of the bands to begin dissolving by June of 2013 will be the USAF Band of Liberty at Hanscom Air Force Base (Massachusetts). The overall manpower reduction for the Air Force will be 103, or about 26 per band.
But, a word of caution. As one friend noted:
The hard truth is that in the 21st century, a band may be more valuable in many instances for building mil-to-mil and other relations with international partners than a BCT. IMHO, we need to think out of the box about ways to connect.Finally, for the National Guard, the bands are paid for by the individual States. Not so much a savings for the Federal Government there.
But, still, cuts are coming.
Regards — Cliff