Sunday, September 23, 2018

America’s 2019 Defense Budget Supports 883 Overseas Bases and is Lethal to Humanity (PT 2/2) by Guest Blogger Lynn Petrovich

America’s 2019 Defense Budget Supports 883 Overseas Bases and is Lethal to Humanity

Part 2 of 2:  883 Military Bases Around the World and Growing.

(Click here for part 1)

(Military Bases outside US borders)

Pouring through various documents, publications, books, and research papers, I developed a list of countries with US military bases outside the US.  This list includes US territories (Guam, US Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico) and includes bases in 183 countries, on 7 continents and 7 bodies of water.  Exhibit A-1 identifies the list of countries, totaling 883 sites.  This number does not include US Embassies and may or may not include other sites such as lily pads (smaller, temporary, and/or not authorized sites) and special operations sites.

Some publicly available documents, from the US government, contradict one other.  For example, the Army’s most recent average cost per person is just under $100K ($94.3K).  However, other defense documents calculate average cost per person at $55K.  I could not find a single, comprehensive document which accounted for the total cost of overseas bases (additionally, many excluded the cost of bases on US Territories), so I took data available, from a number of resources to calculate the costs contained herein.  Where contradictions occur, I so note.

Buildings and Structures

I started with the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request which acknowledges $2.6 Trillion in assets on the balance sheet of the Department’s books (6-2).  Of these assets, another report – The Base Structure Report Fiscal Year 2017 states:

“The DoD manages a worldwide real property portfolio that spans all 50 states, eight US territories with outlying areas, and 41 foreign countries. The majority of the foreign sites are located in Germany (120 sites, Japan (121 sites) and South Korea (78 sites.)”  Base Structure Report page DoD-6

The Base Structure Report
identifies a total of 4,793 sites worldwide, at a value of $1.046 Trillion, covering 27.2 million acres of land.  Of the 883 sites in Exhibit A-1, The Base Structure Report verifies 110 sites located in US Territories and another 517 sites overseas, for a total of 627 sites outside the US with a 09/30/16 value of approximately $200 Billion.

This worldwide portfolio of 4,793 sites on over 27 million acres includes:

(1) Buildings:  “The DOD occupies a reported 275,504 buildings throughout the world, valued at over $705 billion and comprising over 2.2 billion square feet (DoD-8).”  The buildings include administrative, community facilities, family housing, hospitals and medical, maintenance, production, operation and training, research and development, testing, supply, troop housing, mess facilities and utility and ground improvements.
(2) Structures:  DoD structures throughout the world are valued at over $162 Billion.
(3) Linear Structures:  DoD manages over 112,931 linear structures throughout the world at a value over $178 Billion.  Linear structures are facilities whose functions require that it traverse land (examples include runways, roads, rail lines, pipelines, fences, pavement, and electrical distribution lines.)

The difference between Exhibit A-1 estimate of overseas bases of 883 and the 627 mentioned in the baseline report may be reconciled as follows:

(1) The DoD will be undergoing one of the largest consolidated DoD-wide financial statement audits in Fiscal Year 2018, which will involve both general funds and working capital funds.  A focus of the audit will be “the discovery of Real Property and General Equipment not being recorded in the proper system (6-3).”  (It is anticipated, based on prior audits, that not all overseas sites assets – i.e. buildings, roads, structures – are recorded on the books of the DoD.)
(2) Exhibit A-1 includes 95 sites which are smaller sites and may or may not be in the Base Structure Report.
(3) The Base Structure Report identifies 517 sites worldwide (exclusive of US Territories), but a count of the detail in the same report (pages DOD 70 thru DOD 85) resulted in a total of almost 600 sites.

 So How Much do These 883 Sites Cost Taxpayers Annually?

The Report identifies ten Combatant Command Exercise and Engagement programs and lists the following nine:

USCENTCOM (Kingdom of Jordan);
USCYBERCOM (virtual environment);
USEUCOM (Europe);
USNORTHCOM (Homeland defense);
USPACOM (Korea);
USSOUTHCOM (Latin America);
USSTRATCOM (nuclear deterrence);
USTRANSCOM (Full spectrum global mobility)

This report’s costs include:

(1) Fixed costs which are costs which do not change if a particular site is not occupied.  Examples include:  rent/mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, maintenance.
(2) Variable costs which do change based on occupancy.  Examples include utility consumption, repair and maintenance, cleanup, trash removal, increased costs due to surrounding neighborhood activity.

A Rand Corporation research report from 2013, acknowledged that overall costs are higher overseas even when taking host-nation support into account.  I took a conservative approach in the following calculations.

Of the roughly 2 million military personnel, including reserves and National Guard, approximately 12%, or 238,000 are deployed to overseas bases (outside of OCO.)  Personnel includes base pay, payroll taxes, bonuses (sign on and incentive), pension,  uniforms, transportation, basic training/boot camp, life insurance, education, weapon assignment, annual allowances for uniform and weapon upkeep.  In order to calculate this cost, I started with the daily basic pay for military personnel, and built upon that cost with the aforementioned burdens, and pro-rated amounts for overseas costs.

Annual Cost of Personnel                        $22.9 Billion


Transportation costs include Army, Air Force, Marine, Navy and National Guard and represent costs to move personnel to overseas locations and back.  According to the report, “Overseas Basing of US Military Forces, 2011”, average annual cost for overseas transportation per person was $5,200, and varied depending on place of deployment.

Annual Cost of Transportation                        $ 1.3 Billion

Maintenance of Facilities

The DoD occupies or maintains buildings, facilities, and linear structures worth over $1 Trillion worldwide.  The value of the overseas portfolio is about $200 Billion, covering about 50,000 structures.  Applying a standard no-less-than-one-percent-per-value of the asset, plus insurance, plus capital improvements, and contingency, I came up with annual cost of maintenance of overseas (including US Territories) bases.

Annual Cost of Maintenance of Facilities                    $ 7.5B

The 2019 DoD budget request includes an increase in the OCO budget of an additional $17 Billion for facilities construction overseas.

Previous and current year construction projects include:

The Kaiserslautern Military Community Center in Germany, an 8 story, 844,000 square foot Air Force facility which includes a 350-room visiting quarters, a four-plex movie theatre, Power Zone, Outdoor Living, Toyland/Four Seasons, food court, new car sales and other vendors in an American-Style mall layout, and a two-story climbing wall.  It is intended to house about 50,000 military members and their families.  Construction costs are difficult to ascertain (because the Air Force is not tracking the total cost of this facility, which has experienced multiple construction-related delays, deficiencies, and overruns.) Total cost is expected to exceed $215 million.

New construction of Landstuhl Military Hospital in Germany is expected to be slightly less than $1 Billion ($990 Million) and is expected to be completed in 2021.  This hospital is expected to replace the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center as the military’s main European medical facility.

New construction of medical material warehouse at Kadena Air Base in Japan.  Cost for this building is expected to be more than $20 million.

Total cost of construction for the 3 aforementioned facilities is over $1.2 Billion.

Taking into account the cost of overseas construction, the DoD 2019 budget request for overseas construction and applying a multiplier factor, I came up with a conservative estimate of the annual cost of construction (because not all money will be spent in one year’s time.)

Annual Cost of Construction                        $ 4.8 Billion

Health Care
The DoD 2019 budget request acknowledges health care costs runs about 9% of the DoD budget (excluding long-term care or disability-related or permanent injuries.)  Health care costs include use of VA facilities, Tricare, and combat casualty care for members and their families.

Annual Cost of Health Care                        $ 5.9 Billion

Estimated cost of training for overseas personnel takes into effect (a) direct equipment parts (b) fuel costs (c) post production software costs and (d) indirect support costs.  Calculating training costs for Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and others, and considering total historical costs per year for NORTHCOM, AFRICOM, and SOUTHCOM of $980 million in 2012 costs, I applied annual cost of inflation increases, and with contingency, came up with an annual cost for ongoing training exercises for military personnel.

Annual Cost of Training                            $ 1.0 Billion

Environmental Remediation
Environmental contamination is a by-product of weapons and ballistic testing and training for all divisions of the military.  Add to that burn pits, depleted uranium, destroyed species on both land and water, poisoned water supplies, and ongoing cleanup of nuclear testing fallout, to name a few.

As an example, Guam, at 210 square miles, is home to dozens of US military bases.  Its ecosystem suffered tremendously when brown snakes were introduced to the island, entering the island, over the decades, with US military equipment.  These 2 million brown snakes have shorted out electrical systems, devastated new tree growth, and knocked out entire species of birds.  

According to Science Alert, “10 of 12 bird species native to Guam had vanished, including a kingfisher that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth.”  The military has spent no less than $12 million alone trying to eradicate this problem.

Annual Cost of Environmental Remediation                $ 1.3 Billion

Allowances and Site Costs
Allowances and site costs for Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy include base allowance for housing, overseas housing allowances, cost of living allowances, and family separation allowances.  Average annual cost for per person is $25,900.

Annual Cost of Allowances and Site Costs                $ 3.3 Billion

Military Family Support
The 2019 DoD budget request for military family support totals $8.1 Billion and includes (1) child care and youth programs (2) morale, welfare, and recreation (3) warfighter and family services (4) commissary (5) Department of Defense overseas schools and (6) Military spouse employment.

Annual Cost of Military Family Support                    $ 2.4 Billion

Total Annual Cost of Military Overseas Bases $50.4 Billion

The above cost estimate does not include:

-Extended medical and long-term care of partially and permanently disabled veterans;
-Legal costs of criminal activity committed by military personnel at permanent base sites;
-Payments to communities for reimbursement of base-related neighborhood costs;
-Negotiation, legal, and otherwise for land protection, remediation, and extraction of resources.


Cost of Personnel                        $ 22.9 Billion
Transportation                            $   1.3 Billion
Maintenance of Facilities                    $   7.5 Billion
Construction                            $   4.8 Billion
Health Care                            $   5.9 Billion
Training                            $   1.0 Billion
Environmental Remediation                    $   1.3 Billion
Allowances & Site Costs                        $   3.3 Billion
Military Family Support                        $   2.4 Billion

Total Estimated Annual Cost of Overseas Bases            $ 50.4 Billion

Add Overseas Contingency Operations (funding the wars)    $ 89.0 Billion    included in The Report

Total Estimated Annual Cost of overseas operations        $139.4 Billion

War is not normal activity.

The DoD 2019 budget clearly articulates the ramp up of military forces, the expansion of military “solutions” worldwide. 

Conversation is desperately needed about America’s lethal role in the destruction of our planet.

Plato famously said “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

I hope that’s not what it will take.




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