U.S. Army photo / Elizabeth Fraser.

There is absolutely nothing that troops love more than standing at attention in formation — especially in the hot sun.

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Photo via DoD

The military spent more than $1.37 billion between 2012 and 2016 on salaries and allowances for active-duty musicians in bands, a government audit reported on Aug. 12.

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DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth

Military bands form a tradition — a living tradition that continues even today. But budget tightening and fat cutting have put the Pentagon’s continued support of that tradition under a microscope. Entertainment is “just not the role of the military,” Arizona Rep. and retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally recently told the website Politico. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, she is one of several lawmakers pressuring the Pentagon to take a long hard look at its spending on military bands. And while it’s probably true that military bands should share their equal burden of cuts in an atmosphere of tightening budgets, it’s important to keep in mind the important role they play. Instead of thinking about budget cuts for military bands and simply downsizing, it would be more constructive to think of making them more efficient at what they do.

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