The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by correspondent Andy Rooney. It was first broadcast on Oct. 24, 2004.
Our military budget now is $447 billion. A billion is 1,000 million. Sometimes it seems to this old $250-a-month sergeant as if we're buying too many weapons for wars we no longer fight. Maybe our purchasing agent in the Pentagon ought to be replaced.
Our military leaders work pretty much in secret. They say they don't want our enemies to know, but sometimes, I think they don't want us to know, either.
Look at some of the weapons we have and then look at the wars we fight.
We have enough nuclear weapons to wipe out civilization. No one should have any, but I'm enough of an American to be glad we do. We have a lot of unnecessary stuff, though.
The Air Force flies 30 different kinds of airplanes. That's good for the airplane industry, not so good for the rest of us who have to pay for them. Twenty different planes wouldn't have been enough? The Stealth bomber costs $1 billion, $1 million.
The Pentagon ordered 21. How would you like to have what one Stealth Bomber costs to pay teachers in your local school?
There is a multi-billion-dollar boneyard for not-very-old airplanes in Arizona. They never flew much, and they'll never fly again. You're looking at a $100-billion parking lot you paid for.
The Pentagon doesn't scrimp on the Navy, either. Over the years, we built 69 battleships, even though battleships never did much except get sunk. The last one cost $3 billion. The good news is the Navy no longer uses battleships.
These are mothballed now, just rusting away. We have nuclear submarines for sneaking up on enemies under water. One nuclear submarine costs $1.6 billion. We have 50.
DIVE. DIVE. They don't dive in sand.
The Army has 8,000 Abrams tanks. How effective was one of these $3 million vehicles in Baghdad?
We captured prisoners and couldn't question them because no one spoke their language. With what we paid for one tank, we could have taught several hundred people to speak Arabic.
The most effective weapon we have in war is still that poor dogface crawling forward on his stomach with a rifle in his hand. The Pentagon might consider spending more money on our soldiers and on better intelligence, and less on billion-dollar weapons that are as out-of-date as the bow and arrow.
Written By Andy Rooney
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