Trump's raid on military construction funds for his border wall will screw over critical Air Force projects, report says

news
(U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)

An Air Force assessment indicates that the Trump administration's decision to reroute funding from dozens of the service's planned military construction projects "poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces," NBC News reports.


The internal report, obtained by NBC News on Friday, details how the Trump administration's September move to reprogram $3.6 billion in Defense Department funding for military construction projects to erect a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border impacts 51 specific Air Force projects out of 127 identified by the Pentagon.

Those projects include repairs and replacements that the service deemed critical to addressing safety and security concerns at various installations around the world, per NBC News, including:

  • An entry control point at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey at which the main gate is "degrading and not properly configured to provide proper protection for pedestrian and vehicle passage" among an increase in security breaches following the start of U.S. military operations against ISIS in neighboring Syria in 2014.
  • New facilities at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for the storage of more than $1 billion in munitions, one of the largest stockpiles in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's area of responsibility.
  • Critical repairs for boiler at Eielsen Air Force Base in Alaska that provides all electricity and heat for the base, the failure of which would "bee devastating to facilities and the missions housed by them within hours."
The Air Force is the second service branch to raise issues internally with President Donald Trump's February national emergency declaration, which allowed the commander-in-chief to bypass Congress and obtain funds for the border wall that was the central pillar of his presidential campaign.

In March, a pair of internal memos authored by then-Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and obtained by the Los Angeles Times indicated that the "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment of Marine Corps personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border posed an "unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.

As Task & Purpose previously reported, the Trump administration is diverting funding from a total of 127 projects both in the U.S. and overseas, including $400 million form 10 projects related to Hurricane Maria recovery and more than $700 million in projects meant to help deter Russia in Europe.

When reached for comment, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek reassured NBC News that "these projects are still very important, and we continue to be committed to our allies and partners."

But speaking to reporters following his February emergency declaration, Trump had claimed that the billions in funding he planned on diverting from the Pentagon budget wasn't going to be used for anything "important" anyway.

"We had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military," Trump said at the time. "Some of them haven't been allocated yet, and some of the generals think that this is more important."

"I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for," he added. "I said, 'What are you going to use it for?' And I won't go into details, but it didn't sound too important to me."

U.S. Airmen from the 22nd Airlift Squadron practice evasive procedures in a C-5M Super Galaxy over Idaho Dec. 9, 2019. The flight included simulated surface-to-air threats that tested their evasion capabilities. (Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amy Younger)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As many as 380 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan – which has nearly 300 passengers who have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, now known as COVID-19 – will be extracted Sunday from Yokohama and flown to Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield and a Texas base for further quarantine.

Read More

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

After whiffing on its recruiting goal in 2018, the Army has been trying new approaches to bring in the soldiers it needs to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of the 2020s.

The 6,500-soldier shortfall the service reported in September 2018 was its first recruiting miss since 2005 and came despite it putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues or bad conduct.

Within a few months of that disappointment, the Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team that would, it said, "build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use [its] gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth."

Read More

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico Army National Guard soldier from Mountainair, who served as a police officer and volunteer firefighter in the town, died Thursday from a non-combat related incident while deployed in Africa, according to the Department of Defense.

A news release states Pfc. Walter Lewark, 26, died at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti where he was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa.

Read More

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is requesting about as much money for overseas operations in the coming fiscal year as in this one, but there is at least one noteworthy new twist: the first-ever Space Force request for war funds.

Officials say the $77 million request is needed by Oct. 1 not for space warfare but to enable military personnel to keep operating and protecting key satellites.

Read More

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track protesters in its latest indictment against the Chinese company, escalating the U.S. battle with the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker.

In the indictment, which supersedes one unsealed last year in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Huawei Technologies Co was charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies and to violate a racketeering law typically used to combat organized crime.

Read More