Reuters / Jo Yong-Hak
As clocks at the Pentagon approached midnight late Monday evening and inched America towards a government shutdown, the United States Department of Defense spent $5.5 billion dollars on an arsenal of items ordered at the last minute by Uncle Sam.
Foreign Policy reported on Tuesday that the Defense Department awarded 94 contracts totaling over $5.5 billion a day earlier, ensuring the mightiest military on Earth would stay significantly well-stocked throughout an indefinite shutdown that has sent hundreds of thousands of federal workers home without pay and polarized lawmakers in Washington.
Comparatively, Foreign Policy’s John Reed noted that on September 3 — the first workday of the month — the Pentagon published news of only 14 contracts: practically one-seventh of what was signed off on as Monday’s midnight deadline seemed increasingly more likely to come and go without a compromise.
The shutdown, now in its third day with no end in sight, is costing the US an estimated $300 million in lost economic output each day, according to research firm IHS Inc.
But as hundreds of thousands of federal employees remain furloughed and national parks and programs stay shuttered indefinitely, the Pentagon does not seem to have much to worry about.
“This goes to show that even when the federal government is shut down and the military has temporarily lost half its civilian workforce, the Pentagon can spend money like almost no one else,” Reed wrote.
The contracts were handed out to companies providing products or services for the United States Defense Logistics Agency, as well as the Navy, Air Force, Army, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Missile Defense Agency, and Special Operations Command.
Among those newest contracts are $2.5 billion to aircraft engine-maker Pratt & Whitney for “spare parts,” $66 million for a new fuel pier at the Naval Base Point Loma and $7.5 million for a fleet of 60 Mercedes-Benz trucks to be used by the US Africa Command.
Also on the ledger is over $15 million for bulk helium, nearly $66 million on combat helmets and another $9 million for field jackets to be supplied to the Afghanistan National Police.
Additionally, the Pentagon gave one contractor nearly $10 million to repair a Defense Department gym. With upgrades, the facility will receive new racquetball and squash courts, new floors, a triathlon club, cross fit training space and – for some reason – a television studio.
The Department of Defense asked for $525.4 billion from the federal government during Fiscal Year 2013 – a reduction of around $5.2 billion from the year prior.
As RT recently reported, the Pentagon is expected to spend upwards of $7 billion during the next year on sending supplies out of Afghanistan as the US prepares to end the war which is now in its twelfth year.