It doesn’t really matter which side of the story that you hear or even believe. The end result of a squabble between the US Army and US Air Force yielded a loss of $500 million in taxpayer money due to investigation and repetitive purchases. The irony is that the audits were intended to help save money.
A report from a 2010 audit by the Pentagon’s Inspector General was finally released through the Freedom of Information Act. It revealed that the Pentagon wasn’t getting enough drone support in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Army wanted to accelerate the support for their troops so they started buying drones of their own. Then, the Air Force condemned the move, calling the Army’s inexperience and improper use of drones in warfare to be like building a “house of cards” that wouldn’t be able to stand for long.
The Pentagon ordered the audit in 2008 with the intention of forcing the two branches of the United States military to work together more closely on drones, therefore reducing the cost to purchase and maintain them. This was allegedly derailed in the middle of the audit when the Pentagon basically said, “never mind.” The audit continued, cost hundreds of millions of dollars to complete, and ended with a token message of “lesson learned” from the Pentagon.
If it sounds like amateur night at the military show, it was. According to The Intercept:
Military analyst William Arkin argued the Army didn’t have a good justification for buying its own Predators, it just wanted them. “The Army in the end just wanted to be more like the Air Force, more capable of targeted killing,” Arkin told The Intercept.
In his new book, Unmanned: Droned, Data and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare,Arkin also argues that there never was a real scarcity of drones in Iraq or Afghanistan. “Even though the flock migrating to the battlefield was mind boggling in numbers and diversity, that picture of want — not control or numbers — drove the crisis,” he wrote.
Read more on The Intercept.