Here at the Independent Women’s Forum, we have divergent opinions on America’s war on terror and on how the U.S. has conducted operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some here at IWF would suggest we shouldn’t be there and that we need to reduce our military presence worldwide; others fully support a more offensive defense posture and believe we should continue operations in both theaters. 

But, what I suspect we can all agree upon is that the soldiers in the field should be given the supplies they need and should be supported full-stop by everyone stateside. 

Well, it appears this just isn’t happening.  The reason?  Lack of competition for defense contracts. reports this morning that “according to newly available Defense Department data, more than half the Pentagon’s total budget obligations for contracting last year were spent without effective competition or with no competition at all. That comes to about $188 billion, according to numbers provided by the Pentagon.”

The lack of competition alone is despicable but what is even more disgraceful is that this lack of competition is impacting the quality and efficiency of the goods being sent to our soldiers oversees.  

 In 2008, U.S. commanders began asking the Pentagon for hundreds of specially designed rollers – large metal wheels mounted on the front of military vehicles to absorb the brunt of a blast. In response, the Army brass has ordered a total of 2,000 Self-Protection Adaptive Roller Kits, or SPARKs, at a cost of $262 million. 

But as of today, only about 700 have been delivered to the field, leaving soldiers with only about a third of the order. And with rollers being periodically destroyed by exploding bombs, demand is only growing. 

My question: where is Congress?  This is precisely the type of oversight Congress should be conducting.  Instead, last year Congress found it more appropriate to invite comedian Stephen Colbert and White House gate crashers Tariq and Michelle Salahi to a press-filled congressional hearing.

My hope is that this new Congress gives some real oversight a try for a change.  We owe it to our brave soldiers.