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The Truth Is the Military Has Been Researching “Anti-Gravity” For Nearly 70 Years

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Article by Brett Tingley                        October 29, 2019                      (thedrive.com)

• For the better part of a century, the most advanced laboratories under control of both the armed forces and the academic world have been trying their best to harness “anti-gravity” and extremely advanced next-generation propulsion technologies. The U.S. military and the federal government have been formally researching these radical concepts since the 1950s, and according to research by “The Warzone” on TheDrive.com website, those efforts have continued to this day. And since this information comes from unclassified sources, there is definitely more than just what is represented here.

• In 1956, the New York Herald Tribune published a series of articles by Ansel Talbert naming research institutes that were studying the secrets of anti-gravity in the 1950s by focusing on electromagnetism, high speed rotation, and various methods of reducing an aircraft’s mass. Nearly every major aerospace company at the time was involved in some way with researching “the gravity problem”: Convair, Lear, Sikorsky, Sperry-Rand Corp., General Dynamics, and Avro Canada. While some of the brightest minds in aerospace engineering and physics were devoted to studying gravity at the time, no working anti-gravity technologies ever came from these endeavors. Talbert noted that “the biggest deterrent to scientific progress is a refusal of some … scientists to believe that things which seem amazing can really happen.”

• Grover Loening was the first aeronautic engineer hired by the Wright Brothers. After a forty year career, he was decorated by the United States Air Force for his work as a special scientific consultant. Said Loening, “I firmly believe that before long man will acquire the ability to build an electromagnetic contra-gravity mechanism that works.” “Much the same line of reasoning that enabled scientists to split up atomic structures also will enable them to learn the nature of gravitational attraction and ways to counter it.”

• The US Air Force established its own anti-gravity research project early on. Joshua N. Goldberg served as a research physicist at Wright-Patterson’s Aerospace Research Laboratories from 1956 to 1962 where dozens of theoretical studies were produced. Some have claimed, however, that the Air Force-funded laboratories were set up merely to investigate reports of Russian anti-gravity research as a result of ‘Sputnik’-shock”.

• Wright-Patterson’s anti-gravity research concluded in the early 1970s with the passage of the Mansfield Amendments that limited military funding of research to that which had a direct relationship to a specific military function. Following the Mansfield Amendments, the Department of Defense’s research strategy shifted more towards the proposal-grant model seen at university and private laboratories today. The scientists at Wright-Patterson moved on to long careers in academia where they continued their research for the Air Force.

• In 1972, Franklin Mead, then Senior Aerospace Engineer with the Air Force Aerospace Research Laboratories, published ‘Project Outgrowth’ – a technical report discussing advanced propulsion concepts ranging from traditional rocket propulsion to “anti-gravity propulsion”. Two main approaches to anti-gravity in the report were “gravitational absorption” and a “unified field theory” which unites electromagnetism and gravitation. Mead and his group believed that these types of breakthrough propulsion concepts may be possible once materials sciences caught up with concepts developed in theoretical physics.

• In 1988, a New York lab submitted a concept report to the US Air Force at Edwards AF base which discussed the Biefield-Brown effect, where electrical fields produce propulsive forces. In 1989, a similar report explored the interactions between gravitational, electrical, and electromagnetic fields, resulting in the ‘Mach effect’. It also explores the concept of inertial mass variation using a rotating cylinder filled with mercury. While much of the research cited is still in its infancy, says the report, “… chemical propulsion is reaching its theoretical limits and nuclear propulsion has political difficulties.’ …[I]t is more likely that gravitational and electromagnetic studies will lead to future breakthroughs… (as well as) more recent low temperature fusion work.”

• A 2006 study compiled at the request of the US Air Force Research Laboratory and published by the American Institute of Physics claimed that next-generation propulsion may be achieved sometime within the next three decades. The study predicts that power systems will come in the form of field propulsion by inducing mass fluctuations using high-frequency electromagnetic fields.

• With the recent announcement of a partnership between the ‘To the Stars Academy’ and the US Army, the Army plans to explore the same principles the USAF has studied for decades: mass manipulation, electromagnetic metamaterial waveguides, and quantum physics.

• In 1996, NASA invited some of the brightest minds in physics and aerospace engineering to propose radical new ideas to propel spaceflight into a new paradigm. The program’s director, Marc Miller, noted that “it is known from observed phenomena and from the established physics of General Relativity that gravity, electromagnetism, and space-time are inter-related phenomena” that “…have led to questioning [whether] gravitational or inertial forces can be created or modified.”

• In 1997, NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field held a conference on breakthrough propulsion concepts with titles such as “Inertial Mass as a Reaction of the Vacuum to Accelerated Motion”, “Force Field Propulsion”, and “The Zero-Point Field and the NASA Challenge to Create the Space Drive”. Among the students attending the conference may have been Salvatore Cezar Pais, the inventor of the Navy’s recently submitted anti-gravity ‘UFO’ patents. Many of the concepts in Pais’ patents are similar to those which were researched at Wright-Patterson and other facilities in the 1950s and are still being explored today by academic and independent laboratories such as Lockheed Martin.

• A 2007 private sector publication found a connection between electric and magnetic fields, writing that there is a “possibility to manipulate inertial mass” and potentially “some mechanisms for possible applications to electromagnetic propulsion and the development of advanced space propulsion physics.” A 2010 Air Force-funded study at the University of Florida produced a “wingless electromagnetic air vehicle” with “no moving parts” and “near-instantaneous response time” that “was able to hover a few millimeters above the surface for (about three minutes)”.

• For years, various branches of the Armed Forces have been actively researching metamaterials that can propagate high energy electromagnetic fields. Navy budget documents show that between 2011 and 2016, the Navy conducted research into the “dispersion and control of electromagnetic waves in the microwave region, using fabricated metamaterial structures”. Starting in 2017, the Navy changed its project reporting to make it more difficult to know whether this metamaterial research continues today.

• The long and detailed history of interest by the U.S. military and the scientific community in this exotic field has resulted in significant amounts of research that spans nearly seven decades. All this occurred in spite of the fact that scientists realized as far back as the 1950s that the topic was largely taboo and often scoffed at by the larger scientific community.

• But anyone familiar with military research and development knows that there is a vast trove of projects, associated data, and technologies the public has yet to be shown and may never be shown. As the US Air Forces ‘Project Outgrowth’ document states: “We are just beginning to understand the true nature of space and to attempt to utilize this environment for our propulsion needs. …[N]ot until man truly becomes a creature of space will the restrictions imposed on his imagination be removed and radically new propulsion concepts devised.”


Decades-old questions about the potential existence of fantastical anti-gravity propulsion technologies have resurfaced following the Navy’s own disclosure of encounters with unidentified aerial phenomena and our own original reporting on a series of bizarre patents assigned to the U.S. Navy that seem to defy our current understanding of physics and aerospace propulsion. While the discussion continues over whether any such technologies are feasible, the truth is that the theoretical concepts behind them are anything but new. In fact, the U.S. military and the federal government have been formally researching these radical concepts since the 1950s, and according to our own research, those efforts have continued on to this very day.

In our dive into what seems like something of a bottomless rabbit hole of government studies into this exotic scientific realm, we have collected a body of research, news reports, and firsthand accounts. These establish the fact that the types of “anti-gravity”, propellantless propulsion, and mass reduction technologies described in the Navy’s recent “UFO” patents are at least based on more than 60 years of peer-reviewed research conducted and published by the likes of the American Institute of Physics, NASA, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

While we can’t say that any of this research led to actually being able to harness “anti-gravity” or extremely advanced next-generation propulsion technologies to any useful extent, the most advanced laboratories under control of both the armed forces and the academic world have certainly been trying their best to get there for the better part of a century. Also, keep in mind that all of this information comes from unclassified sources, and there is definitely more of it than just what is represented here. We can only wonder how much work has been done in the classified realm on what was once openly considered the next massive revolution in aerospace technology.

The Martin Company’s Early Foray Into Anti-Gravity

In terms of the Air Force’s early anti-gravity research, one intriguing first-hand account comes from Dr. Louis Witten, who was a professor of physics at the University of Cincinnati from 1968 to 1991. Throughout his career, Witten conducted research into gravitation, quantum gravity, and general relativity. The last one of these is the theory first put forward by Albert Einstein that proposes that gravity is essentially a warp or curve in the geometry of space-time caused by mass.

During a roundtable discussion titled “Recollections of the Relativistic Astrophysics Revolution” held at the 27th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics in 2013, Witten recounted his own work on what he somewhat puzzlingly refers to as “the discovery of anti-gravity.”

In his portion of the roundtable, Witten recalls being recruited by George S. Trimble, then serving as Vice President for Aviation and Advanced Propulsion Systems at the Glenn L. Martin Company, which evolved first into Martin-Marietta and eventually merged with Lockheed in 1995 to form Lockheed Martin. The project for which Witten was recruited would come to be known as the Research Institute for Advanced Studies (RIAS) and was officially founded in 1955 by George Bunker, president of Martin, with the goal of advancing aerospace science and development.

“The vice president [Trimble] had the wonderful idea which was to develop anti-gravity,” Witten says, noting he immediately balked at the proposal. “When he tried the idea in public, you can imagine the greeting he received from scientists. So he said to himself ‘those poor bastards, I’ll show them.'” Despite his skepticism, Witten ended up accepting Trimble’s offer to join the powerful Martin executive’s pet project.

Throughout his short speech given at the roundtable, Witten says that even though he faced ridicule within the scientific community for his research, there was no shortage of people who would tell him they knew how to achieve anti-gravity.



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UFO Fans Plan to ‘Storm Area 51’ and Find the Aliens Inside

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by Rob Waugh                   July 8, 2019                     (finance.yahoo.com)

• A Facebook group entitled, ‘Shitposting cause i’m in shambles’, has organized a march on Area 51 on September 20th at 3 am, and over 120,000 have signed up to attend. Area 51 is the secretive military base in Nevada, where conspiracy theorists believe alien technology is being studied. The group will meet at the Area 51 Alien Center (on US-95 in Amargosa Valley, Nevada; pictured above).

• Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual, says that Area 51 has always been a magnet for those who believe the US Government knows a lot more about UFOs than they want to reveal to the public. There is a 25-mile no-fly zone for civilian aircraft around the base. Has the government been working on secret alien technologies? Or is it simply a test-bed for hi-tech fighter aircraft?

• The late Boyd Bushman was a senior scientist who worked for Lockheed Martin at Area 51. Bushman claimed he had worked on anti-gravity projects, alien technologies, and had even met and photographed an alien. He examined at least eight different types of alien spacecraft there. Bushman also said that he had received death threats, and that security personnel had attempted to discredit him and tried to keep him from going public. In 2008 he passed a polygraph test to support his claims.

• Bushman revealed that “…aliens fly their spacecraft on a special flight path that takes them through a shaft drilled on the side of a mountain near Area 51.” He also claimed that 230-year-old humanoid aliens from the planet Quintumnia lived at Area 51.

• This backs-up other claims by people who say they have worked on ET spacecraft at the base, but there is no solid evidence for their stories. The extreme nature of these claims makes serious investigators shy away from this subject, and talk of UFOs and aliens is an effective way of hiding the real human technological activities at the site.

[Editor’s Note]  As of July 19th, 1.7 million people were “going” to the event.  


More than 120,000 people have pledged to ‘storm area 51’ – the secretive military base in Nevada, where conspiracy theorists believe alien technology is being studied.

The plan – hatched on a Facebook group – is set for September 20 this year, at 3am, with attendees planning to meet at the Area 51 Alien Centre.

  Boyd Bushman and alien being

Titled, ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All Of Us’, the plan has attracted thousands of people claiming they will attend.

We should note, however, that it’s from a Facebook group entitled, ‘S**tposting cause I’m in shambles’, so it may be that some of the UFO fans fail to show up, Metro reported.

At the Area 51 base in Nevada, there is a 25-mile no-fly zone for civilian aircraft – so aerial views of the base are rarely seen.

But have they – as UFO fans believe – been working on secret technologies stolen from aliens?

Or is the base simply a test-bed for hi-tech fighter aircraft?



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit

by Matt Taibbi                   March 17, 2019                    (rollingstone.com)

[Editor’s Note]  This lengthy article from Rolling Stone demonstrates that the Deep State controlled heads of both Congress and the Defense Department are doing all they can to keep the Department of Defense’s budget and accounting practices in such a dysfunctional quagmire that trillions of dollars in unaccountable funding can continue to be funneled into the government’s secret space program at various levels.

• In 1787, the US Constitution mandated “a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, hundreds of billions of tax dollars were being spent annually, and no one really knew where. No independent examiner had ever fully checked the government’s books.

• So in 1990, US Senators Chuck Grassley and John Glenn, and Rep. John Conyers authored the “Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990” (the “CFO Act”). This forced government agencies to name a CFO, conduct audits and create a “modern federal financial management structure.” Twenty-three agencies, from Defense to Labor to State, were ordered to begin submitting “department-wide annual audited financial statements” by 1994. In the first year, only six agencies and departments were able to pass. Within a few years, however, most were in compliance. By 2013, the Department of Defense was the only federal agency that had not submitted a financial statement.

• For the most part, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) does not know how much it spends. It has a handle on some things, like military pay, but in other places it’s clueless. None of its services — Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps — use the same system to record transactions or monitor inventory. Each service has its own operations and management budget, its own payroll system, its own R&D budget and so on. It’s an empire of disconnected budgets, or “fiefdoms,” as one Senate staffer calls them.

• Ahead of misappropriation, fraud, theft, overruns, contracting corruption and other abuses that are almost certainly still going on, the Pentagon’s first problem is its books. It’s the world’s largest producer of wrong numbers, an ingenious bureaucratic defense system that hides all the other rats’ nests underneath.

• In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act which caps the defense budget at roughly 54 percent of discretionary spending. Almost immediately, the DoD began using so-called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a second checking account that can be raised without limit. In 2019, the Pentagon secured $617 billion in “base” budget money, which puts it in technical compliance with the Budget Control law. Then it used the OCO slush fund to generate another $69 billion. Other ‘defense’ departments received additional funding: the VA ($83 billion), Homeland Security ($46 billion), the National Nuclear Security Administration ($21.9 billion). Then the DoD drew from the OCO fund again for anti-ISIS operations. The resulting actual defense outlay is over $855 billion, and that’s just what we know about. Programs like the CIA’s drones are part of the secret “black budget” of the intelligence community (which this article doesn’t go into).

• The long-standing Antideficiency Act makes it illegal for any government agency to spend money appropriated for one purpose on a different program. Yet the military routinely commingles its various pots of money. The DoD is supposed to give its unspent money back to Congress. Instead, the DoD created a computer program algorithm called Mechanization of Contract Administration Services that spends “old money” first, i.e.: money from whatever funds were about to expire – in clear violation of the law. The DoD simply orders its accountants to make the numbers fit to avoid having to return any money.

• DoD accountants are told by superiors that if they cannot find invoices or contracts to prove the various expenses they should execute “unsubstantiated change actions”, i.e.: make them up. The accountants systematically “plug” in fake numbers to match the payment schedules handed down by the Treasury. These fixes are called “journal voucher adjustments”, “forced-balance entries”, “workarounds”, or “plugs.” Thus, the year-end financial statements submitted to Congress are fictions, a form of systematic accounting fraud that Congress has quietly tolerated for decades.

• A 2017 Michigan State University study revealed $21 trillion in plugs over a 17-year period. The Pentagon didn’t even receive that much money during the time period in question. In 2015, the Army with an annual budget of $122 billion, generated $6.5 trillion in accounting plugs – or 54 times its annual budget.

• The Pentagon compounded its lack of oversight by reducing its staff of internal criminal investigators. “No other federal agency could get away with this,” said one Senate staffer. The military has been told repeatedly to stop plugging and develop more rational accounting systems.

• The ubiquitous plugging and quantity of bad numbers in the Pentagon’s books are so massive that it will take a labor of the ages to untangle. Next to the enormously bloated DoD budget itself, the attempted accounting reconciliation effort has created a second massive DoD expenditure – accounting reformation.

• To appear as though it is attempting to cooperate with Congressional mandates, in 1991 the DoD created the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), which would collect financial reports from all of the different DoD sub-agencies at the end of each month, without bothering to adjust its accounting rules. But the Pentagon’s books are so choked with bad data that discovering abuses in real time is virtually impossible.

• The Air Force awarded a “big four” accounting firm, Deloitte, $800 million to help with “audit preparation.”  The Navy countered with a $980 million audit-readiness contract spread across all four accounting firms: Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture and KPMG. In 2003, Defense comptroller Dov Zakheim told the House Budget Committee, “We anticipate having a clean audit by 2007.” Soon after disavowing that promise, he said, “The further we dug . . . the more difficulties turned up.” Taxpayers were paying gargantuan sums to private accounting firms just to write reports about how previous recommendations had been ignored.

• In 2005, the Pentagon began to provide Congress with Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) reports. These reports’ purpose was to assure Congress that the DoD was getting closer to sorting all of this stuff out. December 2005: “Progress has been achieved.” September 2006: “Progress has been made.” September 2007: “Progress has been made in several areas.” March 2008: “Substantial progress has been made.” March 2009: “Significant progress has been made, but much needs to be done.”

• In an attempt to standardize the military’s payroll and personnel records system, in 2009 the DoD created the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System. Over 12 years and more than $1 billion in expenditures later, it was scrapped. Earlier, in 2005, the Air Force set out to buy a standardized computer system from Oracle called the Expeditionary Combat Support System. It took 7 years and more than $1 billion for that plan to be scrapped.

• Despite the DoD’s 60,000 financial-management employees who’ve had 21 years to producing financial statements, by the mid-2000s the task was given to 200 auditors from the DoD inspector general to create a single annual financial statement. They made some helpful recommendations, but it didn’t get very far before they concluded that an audit was not possible. In 2011, then-Defense comptroller Robert Hale confessed to Congress, “We don’t really fully understand in the Department of Defense what you have to do to pass an audit for military service, because we have never done it.” You’ve heard of “too big to fail”. The DoD’s universe is too big to count. One exasperated DoD official complained, “Impossible. . . . We can’t do it. . . . It’s too big.”

• The annual DoD audit has brought enormously expensive accounting firms into the family of permanent high-end military contractors like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Raytheon. One estimate puts the annual cost for accounting at about a billion: $400 million a year for audits by firms like Ernst & Young, and about $600 million for firms like Deloitte to fix problems identified by said audits.

• In April 2016, U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro testified before the Senate that the Pentagon had spent up to $10 billion to modernize its accounting systems. Those attempts, he said, had “not yielded positive results.” Asked how much progress has been made toward creating a workable accounting system at the Pentagon, Dodaro says, “At my level, I would have to say zero.”

• One thing that the audits did uncover was a tremendous amount of waste. The DoD found about $125 billion in administrative waste. Inspectors found “at least” $6 billion to $8 billion in waste in the Iraq campaign, and said that $15 billion of waste found in the Afghan theater was probably “only a portion” of the total lost.

• By the end of 2018, the DoD did submit an audit by some 1,200 auditors at a cost of $400 million. It was, however, a failure and did not “pass”. The auditors could offer no opinion, saying that the military’s acronymic accounting system was too illogical to penetrate. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said it was nothing to worry about, because “we never expected to pass it.” As one Senate staffer put it, “These systems were not designed to be audited.” Remarked Senator Chuck Grassley: “Based on the track record, it seems like they don’t want to fix it.”

• The Pentagon bureaucracy has no reliable method of recording financial transactions. Some of its accounting programs are still using COBOL, a computing language that was cutting-edge in 1959. The DoD still hasn’t progressed to serial numbered bar codes to tracking inventory. Assets tend to vanish on financial ledgers. A few years ago the DoD admitted to losing track of 478 buildings and 39 Black Hawk helicopters. A retired Air Force auditor said that the Air Force has no idea how much of anything it has at any given time. However, since 2006 when the Air Force accidentally loaded six nuclear weapons in a B-52 and flew them across the country, unbeknownst to the crew, it has made a special effort to track its nuclear weapons.

• In the 1980’s, Senator Grassley was inspired to scrutinize DoD accounting due to reports that it was spending $640 for toilet seats and $436 for hammers. Today, the DoD is still spending $10,000 apiece for 3D printed airborne toilet-seat covers and $1,280 each on reheatable drinking cups. In 1992, the military was under pressure to resolve its “poor cost estimating”, and created a middleman with the power to set prices and choose subcontractors known as the “prime vendor”. This system became corrupted and only inflated prices even further. By 2004, the Pentagon was spending $7.4 billion annually on prime-vendor purchases. In 2005 it was reported that the military was buying 85-cent ice trays from prime vendors for $20 apiece, and had purchased nine refrigerators from a prime vendor for $32,642.

• In 1997, the Army spent $4 billion on the Global Combat Support System ‘audit-readiness program’ to centralize its accounting system, and the Marine Corp spent $1 billion on a similar system. In 2009, the General Accounting Office complained about the $6 billion that had been spent in audit preparation with no results. In 2010, Chuck Grassley created an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to stop the runaway mobilization of hundreds of auditors that the CFO Act still mandated, creating a Catch-22 between the two opposing laws.

• Three decades into the effort, we’ve only been spending billions of dollars to get nowhere in one of the most expensive jokes any nation has played on itself. “When everything’s always a mystery,” says Grassley, “nothing ever has to be solved.”

• Even if there were a way for the DoD to reorganize its accounting practices, it would inevitably be mired in politics. There is a strong bloc of Congressmen whose office depends on campaign contributions from the defense sector (even though defense contractors themselves cannot make campaign contributions). They hold up any type of withholding on defense expenditures in committees such as Armed Services or Appropriations. Says one Congressional staffer, “You can’t get the Pentagon to take an audit seriously unless you threaten to stop funding, and you can’t stop funding without campaign finance reform.” Senator Bernie Sanders laments the unwillingness of Congress to take the real steps needed to enforce auditing compliance. The system of campaign contributions that keeps key committees captive will lock this problem in place until there’s reform on that end. “When it comes to the massive waste, fraud and abuse at the Pentagon, there’s a deafening silence,” says Sanders.

• The military has become an unstoppable mechanism for absorbing trillions of taxpayer dollars and using them in the most inefficient manner possible. The armed services are filling warehouses for some programs with “1,000 years’ worth of inventory,” as one Navy logistics officer recently revealed. According to a Congressional staffer: “[The] DoD loves to find inefficiencies. It just means more they can spend.”


A retired Air Force auditor — we’ll call him Andy — tells a story about a thing that happened at Ogden Air Force Base, Utah. Sometime in early 2001, something went wrong with a base inventory order. Andy thinks it was a simple data-entry error. “Someone ordered five of something,” he says, “and it came out as an order for 999,000.” He laughs. “It was probably just something the machine defaulted to. Type in an order for a part the wrong way, and it comes out all frickin’ nines in every field.” Nobody actually delivered a monster load of parts. But the faulty transaction — the paper trail for a phantom inventory adjustment never made — started moving through the Air Force’s maze of internal accounting systems anyway. A junior-level logistics officer caught it before it went out of house. Andy remembers the incident because, as a souvenir, he kept the June 28th, 2001, email that circulated about it in the Air Force accounting world, in which the dollar value of the error was discussed.

Wanted to keep you all informed of the massive inventory adjustment processed at [Ogden] on Wednesday of this week. It isn’t as bad as we first thought ($8.5 trillion). The hit . . . $3.9 trillion instead of the $8.5 trillion as we first thought.

The Air Force, which had an $85 billion budget that year, nearly created in one stroke an accounting error more than a third the size of the U.S. GDP, which was just over $10 trillion in 2001. Nobody lost money. It was just a paper error, one that was caught.

“Even the Air Force notices a trillion-dollar error,” Andy says with a laugh. “Now, if it had been a billion, it might have gone through.”

Years later, Andy watched as another massive accounting issue made its way into the military bureaucracy. The Air Force changed one of its financial reporting systems, and after the change, the service showed a negative number for inventory — everything from engine cores to landing gear — in transit.

Freaked out, because you can’t have a negative number of things in transit, Air Force accountants went back and tried to reverse the mistake. In doing so, they somehow ended up adding more than $4 billion in value to the Air Force’s overall spare-parts inventory in a single month.

This suspicious number is still there. You can see a sudden spike in the Air Force’s working-capital fund’s stagnant spare-parts numbers. It was $23.2 billion in 2015, $23.3 billion in 2016, $24.4 billion in 2017, and then suddenly $28.8 billion in September 2018.

That doesn’t mean money was lost, or stolen. It does, however, mean the Air Force probably has less inventory on hand than it thinks it does.

Now retired, Andy sometimes visits his neighborhood library, which uses RFID smart labels, or radio frequency identification, allowing it to know where all its books are at all times.

Meanwhile, the Air Force, which has a $156 billion annual budget, still doesn’t always use serial numbers. It has no idea how much of almost anything it has at any given time. Nuclear weapons are the exception, and it started electronically tagging those only after two extraordinary mistakes, in 2006 and 2007. In the first, the Air Force accidentally loaded six nuclear weapons in a B-52 and flew them across the country, unbeknownst to the crew. In the other, the services sent nuclear nose cones by mistake to Taiwan, which had asked for helicopter batteries.

“What kind of an organization,” Andy asks, “doesn’t keep track of $20 billion in inventory?”

Despite being the taxpayers’ greatest investment — more than $700 billion a year — the Department of Defense has remained an organizational black box throughout its history. It’s repelled generations of official inquiries, the latest being an audit three decades in the making, mainly by scrambling its accounting into such a mess that it may never be untangled.

Ahead of misappropriation, fraud, theft, overruns, contracting corruption and other abuses that are almost certainly still going on, the Pentagon’s first problem is its books. It’s the world’s largest producer of wrong numbers, an ingenious bureaucratic defense system that hides all the other rats’ nests underneath. Meet the Gordian knot of legend, brought to life in modern America.



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

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