Defense, Politics

What the Pentagon Is Sacrificing to Pay for the Border Wall

Just facilities to keep our military safe, trained, and effective.
September 5, 2019
Featured Image
Do we really need health care services for our Marines at Camp Lejeune, anyhow? (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

After months of speculation, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday which military construction programs would be scrapped to redirect funds to the wall along the Mexican border. The list of projects leaked quickly after the announcement, and it includes some projects that probably didn’t deserve to be canceled.

The Space Control Facility at Peterson Air Force Base is out. No doubt Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly appointed head of Space Command, would have objected to robbing Peterson to pay for the wall.

The Fire/Crash/Rescue Station at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida is no more, because who needs rescuing from a crashed or flaming airplane?

The Child Development Center at Joint Base Andrews will not be built. Those youngsters, “ages six weeks to five years,” will probably be fine at whatever facility they currently have, which the Defense Department obviously had previously considered inadequate. Ditto the middle school in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The Ambulatory Care Center at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will go without its renovation. But remember, just because President Trump’s executive order took money away from health care for servicemembers — to pay for a wall we don’t need that he promised Mexico would pay for — doesn’t mean he loves the troops any less.

The Laurel Bay Fire Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, will not be replaced. Whatever was wrong with the old fire station that convinced the Defense Department to replace it will remain wrong with it.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia will not get a new cyber operations facility, because the future of warfare probably has nothing to do with computers and everything to do with walls.

The hazardous materials warehouse at Norfolk Navy Base in Norfolk, Virginia, will not be replaced. What could go wrong?

These are just examples from the contiguous United States. There are other programs being cancelled in U.S. territories and overseas bases, including more schools for the children of servicemembers, readiness centers, a hazardous material storage building, repair facilities for stealth fighter jets, and dozens of training facilities.

The military construction budget was gutted to build 175 miles of wall and fencing along the border with Mexico, which is about 2,000 miles long.

Good thing nothing they canceled was all that important.

Benjamin Parker

Benjamin Parker is a senior editor at The Bulwark.