DoD Buzz

Gettin' the bands back together


What's a few hundred million bucks, right? The House on Wednesday voted to restore full funding for the military's bands after a battle earlier this year over whether to cap spending on military music, a dip of the national toe in the waters of austerity. We first told you about the music wars a few months ago, and in the interim, the House Appropriations Committee restricted the amount DoD could spend on its various bands. On Wednesday, though, the full House voted to restore about $120 million, as the services had initially requested.

Here was the rundown from the AP:

Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, sponsor of the amendment to the $649 billion defense bill, said the cut to the band budget wouldn't save taxpayers any money nor would it reduce the Pentagon budget. "The facts about our bands are that they are an integral part of the patriotism that keeps our soldiers' hearts beating fast," Carter said.

Carter said the bands perform at funerals, USO events, concerts and welcome-home celebrations. He said the Army has 100 bands, Air Force 24, Navy 14 and the Marine Corps 14, and their numerous events "are all part of what makes our military the patriotic body that it is." Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who had sponsored the cut in the Appropriations Committee, pointed out that her effort didn't eliminate the money but simply capped the spending at $200 million. She said the portion of the budget for military bands had grown substantially over the years. "I think it's time to ask the Pentagon to make a small sacrifice in its musical budget," McCollum said.

The military's bands, along with the services' support of NASCAR, have been two big topics of debate in Congress this year. If the difficulty lawmakers have encountered in trimming them is any indication of how hard it would be to actually shrink Pentagon spending, those financial analysts you heard from this week will be proven right.

Then again, you could argue that in the context of the federal budget, a few hundred million dollars really is just a drop in the bucket, and the military loses so much more with cuts to its bands and race sponsorships than the nation gains in the financial savings. When the time comes to mothball aircraft carriers, disestablish Army brigades or ground Air Force squadrons, the deficit-obsessed Congress will get those jobs done.

What do you think?

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