Tax Dollars Squandered By Air Force?

attkisson, military equipment
CBS
You've heard about soldiers in Iraq who've had to fight without the proper equipment.

It turns out while they're "doing without," the military has been ordering, and storing, billions of dollars in other equipment it doesn't need, CBS News investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports for Follow the Money.

A slick video produced by the military highlights all that extra property and a program that tries to find uses for it.

It shows desks, chairs, filing cabinets, boots, Kevlar helmets and binoculars - paid for with your tax dollars. The equipment often ends up being given away, sold for pennies on the dollar - or destroyed.

The military has so much "excess inventory," there are dozens of giant warehouses around the nation, like one Attkisson visited at Fort Meade, Md. And there's an entire agency, employing 1,400 people, set up to do nothing but manage it all.

Within the military, the Air Force is the biggest offender. That's according to government investigators with the GAO, who found the Air Force doesn't need half of the spare parts it has on hand.

But here's what's even worse: Half of what's on order isn't needed, either!

A big chunk is tagged for possible "disposal" even before it's delivered: $235 million dollars worth, according to new figures from the GAO.

"The idea that over $200 million in spare parts that has not yet come into the Air Force is already marked for disposal!" said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. "They're planning to get rid of it and it hasn't even come in!"

Sanders wants Congress to cut Air Force funding if it doesn't get a serious grip on its inventory problem.

For example, the Air Force already has hundreds of aircraft ducts they don't need (that's 214, at $6.9 million). But more are on order. It has thousands of unneeded aircraft blades, and thousands more on the way - 7,460 at $2 million, to be precise.

It costs up to $30 million dollars a year just to store the stuff they don't need.

Nobody at the Air Force would agree to an interview, but told us they're "taking steps" to fix the problems and to "serve the best interest of the American public."

"We have almost $19 billion in absolute waste in spare parts in the Air Force," Sanders said.

They are taxpayer dollars squandered in the wild blue yonder.

  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.