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Pentagon’s black budgets and recent incidents on US vessels

In this file photo taken on October 30, 2018 the Pentagon is seen from an airplane over Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

By Stephen Lendman

I can't recall a time in the recent past, maybe even a good deal passed the recent past when there were two high profile incidents on US vessels. And they happen to be in cities I'm very familiar with. I lived in one of them, in San Diego in the late 1960s. And I spent a lot of time in Norfolk, Virginia Tidewater Virginia, Norfolk Virginia Beach, for a great number of years from the 60s through the 90s.

So I'm very familiar with these areas. And I'm very familiar with having worked with the New York, US Navy in the small family business I was involved in putting on career fairs around the US for exiting junior military officers for a number of years and our business changed when the great exodus of the military after Vietnam died down.

I don't know if there's much of a big deal about the two incidents on two navy vessels, the Bonhomme Richard in San Diego. There was a major, major one very extensive damage done to the vessels. And what I heard, I don't know what today we will do, what I heard is possible that this was badly damaged that they simply may scrap it and order a new vessel.

Well, this wouldn't surprise me in the slightest because the Pentagon spends trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. A lot of it is in black budgets. Nobody really knows how much, but a number of years ago I wrote something on the order that since the 1990s the Pentagon has spent down a black hole the waste, fraud and abuse, something like maybe eight or nine trillion dollars, most of it off the books.

So the US simply prints whatever amount of money it wants. We can see that’s happened with the current economic situation in the US printing trillions of dollars mainly for corporate interests, and then it was individuals to speculate with Wall Street.

So, it's of no consequence to the Pentagon to scrap one ship and order another one. What the physical state of US vessels is, I don't know.

These incidents are indicative of the poor state of maintenance throughout the US Navy, and many ships being poorly maintained and maybe a lot of slipshod work of people, or US Navy personnel have they been poorly trained, so when something happens, they can’t address it properly, so an instance, it becomes much greater because people missed up in the first place, human error, maintenance isn't up to snuff the second incident, and when something does happen, they don't know exactly what to do about it. So they slow off the mark, or they don't do what they should right away.

An example of the opposite of there would be what the Chicago Fire Department would do in Chicago if there is a blaze. They are very well trained and they will get on it right away, and do everything conceivable to get the blaze under control but I don't know what kind of fire control training US sailors have.

My brother might know something about that he was in the Navy in the early 1960s, but even that doesn't apply to now, because what went on then could be entirely different than what goes on now.

I would imagine there won't be much in the way of reverberations from the fire on both ships. Now, if there are more of these incidents that happened, which is very possible. Navy has a huge, huge fleet. It is a maintenance problem that's endemic in the US Navy and really some of them are right on the cusp of other serious incidents happening, including at sea, which could be a real disaster. It'd be like being hit by a torpedo you out in the middle of the ocean, what are you going to do?

You want to get to a port as soon as you can, but if a lot more of these happen I'm certain that the Navy and their civilian counterparts at the Department of Defense will look at this very, very carefully to try to figure out what the heck is wrong and try to correct it, that plus the fact that a lot of us military personnel have been infected with COVID-19. And that puts a lot of US vessels and aircraft and everything else at risk.

So I think the Pentagon is mostly concerned, less about fires aboard ships which may be aberrations, they may not be but they may be much more concerned about a lot of the personnel, getting sick, and not being battle-ready because they are sick, and maybe their illness is being spread to other people.

I have no idea. I don't think any information has been released on the possibility of how many US service personnel have been exposed to COVID-19, may have tested positive in a test. And If the numbers are very, very huge… I've seen numbers that are fairly large that it may be thousands of personnel. If the numbers are tens of thousands, maybe even more than that, then this is a major crisis for the US military and with a number of people infected. It will spread to many more people and who is going to attack the US or the Navy has nothing to worry about that, but it would certainly make them non-battle-ready if a lot of people get sick, and if a good number begin dying. I don't know. We'll find out, maybe ahead. We don't know now, but as to what we know about the fires on these vessels I would say it's not a big deal. We'll see what happens ahead. Something could be a big deal, but I don't think we've reached that stage yet.

Stephen Lendman, born in 1934 in Boston, started writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient. He recorded this article for the Press TV website.


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