Unfunded Requirements

Unfunded Requirements

An American politician's forgotten note surfaces on the subject of excessive military spending.

In the Capitol building this morning, we found a note on the floor that was crafted by a committed congresswoman or congressman to be read at one of the military-related committee hearings. Alas, the note was lost and the statement never made. We therefore reprint it here in full.

Dear Army,

I welcome you before this committee today, and I thank you for serving our country.

It is the time of year again when you submit your list of "unfunded requirements" to Congress. It’s a clunky term for, essentially, a second helping of budget. Whatever you don’t think you can, or want to, pay for with the $120-some billion you already stand to get for next year, it’s neatly enumerated right there in those UFR lists. Some of us here get very excited about this maneuver. And I know that you know that. [Wink at the witnesses.]

As you lament your shortfall of $7.6 billion, consider the following.

The 2016 presidential elections are the quintessential proof that national security is not simply the provenance of the military. Countries that don’t invest in people — their well-being, their education, their dreams — are doomed to fail, no matter their defense expenditures. Yes, I’m looking at you, North Korea.

We live in strange times. A Trump presidency would get a us a whole lot closer to that illustrious club of nations where the ruling class is carried by the people’s lack of education and good old fashioned poverty — financial and otherwise.

As we ponder ways to stop the trend toward a poorly educated populace that runs after erratic loudmouths with the potential to do irreparable harm to national security, one thing becomes clear: It will require money, just as much as, say, sustaining a top-notch military does.

I therefore wonder if you could find it in your heart to donate your unfunded requirements to things like improving our public schools and universities. Take the other military services’ purported unmet needs, and we’re talking upwards of twenty billion dollars. I’m sure there are educators all over the country with innovative ideas for such an unexpected funding infusion.

You may say that these things are out of your area of responsibility. But I’m asking you to think outside the box, which you have said is so necessary to counter modern-day threats. Many of my colleagues get googly-eyed about spending on our armed forces, and as non-germane as it may seem to you, your leadership in opening their eyes to the broader meaning of national security is badly needed.

Again, I thank you for appearing before this committee today, and I look forward to your testimony.