Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Military-Leisure Golf Complex

Go to AlterNet original
Back in 1975, Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin) decried the fact that the Department of Defense spent nearly $14 million each year to maintain and operate 300 military-run golf courses scattered across the globe. In 1996, the weekly television series America's Defense Monitor noted that "Pentagon elites and high government officials [were still] tee-ing off at taxpayer expense" at some "234 golf courses maintained by the U.S. armed forces worldwide." In the intervening twenty-one years, despite a modest decrease in the number of military golf courses, not much had changed. The military was still out on the links. Today, the military claims to operate a mere 172 golf courses worldwide, suggesting that over thirty years after Proxmire's criticisms, a modicum of reform has taken place. Don't believe it.

In actuality, the military has cooked the books. For example, the Department of Defense reported that the U.S. Air Force operates 68 courses. A closer examination indicates that the DoD counts the 3 separate golf courses, a total of fifty-four holes, at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., as 1 course. The same is true for the navy, which claims 37 courses (including facilities in Guam, Italy, and Spain) but counts, for example, its Admiral Baker Golf Course in San Diego, which boasts 2 eighteen-hole courses, as a single unit. Similarly, while the DoD claims that the army operates 56 golf facilities, it appears that this translates into no fewer than 68 actual courses, stretching from the U.S. to Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

Moreover, some military golf facilities are mysteriously missing from all lists. In 2005, according to the Pentagon, the U.S. military operated courses on twenty-five bases overseas.


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