The Pentagon’s Storeroom

Lip Balm and Lab Goats


Classical Statues
What is the perfect adornment for a new U.S. Army health center in Vicenza, Italy, outside of Venice? Classical statues, of course. Two are lions representing the Veneto region of Italy. The other four are females representing the four seasons. The Army bought them last year for about $29,000.
 
Fish Tags
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to help safeguard the environment in projects overseen by its Portland (Ore.) district, has a contract for about $226,000 to buy mostly fish tags. The tags are affixed to salmon and steelhead trout to help monitor hatchery fish.
 
Cookie Dough
The Defense Commissary Agency spent about $47.4 million in 2010 on cookie dough made by General Mills. That bought about 15,895 tons to satisfy the military’s sweet tooth.
 
Bean-Bag Animals
In 2008 the U.S. Army purchased, for $12,650, about 5,000 bean-bag toys imprinted with the insignia of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Wisconsin National Guard. They were purchased for the children of deploying Guard members.
 
Goats
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command has spent more than $1 million since 2007 on caprines—the scientific name for goats—according to the federal procurement database. The goats are used to train combat medics, who practice surgery on them at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C. Animal rights groups do not approve. The Army won’t give details but says the goats are treated in accordance with “established protocols and all applicable federal laws to include the Animal Welfare Act.” What the medics learn saves lives on the battlefield, says U.S. Army Master Sergeant Eric Hendrix, a spokesman for the Army’s Special Operations Command.
 
Condoms
The Pentagon has spent about $537,000 to buy condoms last year and so far this year, says the Defense Logistics Agency. To help troops avoid disease and stay fit for duty, the services also buy condom dispensing machines and educational videos, according to government spending data.
 
Personal Trainers
Who needs drill sergeants? The U.S. Army paid Washington (D.C.)-based CrossFit $50,290 for two trainers to certify 50 military personnel. The soldiers were taught the company’s popular motivational techniques and latest workouts. As a bonus, they each received a year’s subscription to CrossFit Journal.
 
Drama Majors
The Pentagon over the last three years paid at least $4 million to theater troupes, such as Brooklyn’s Theater of War, to enact dramatic readings of Sophocles’ Ajax for personnel heading to battle zones or returning home. The town-hall style performances are intended to spark dialogue about the psychological challenges faced by service members and their families.
 
Lip Balm
The DOD has purchased 5,200 cases of lip balm since the start of 2010. That amounts to $224,276 for lip care, which is critical in the harsh climates of Iraq and Afghanistan. Pair that with about $2 million for sunscreen over the last three years, and you can rest easy that the fighting forces are well protected.
 
Role Playing
The U.S. Army’s Special Forces, for its final field training exam, deploys actors to portray friendly and unfriendly locals. Oak Grove Technologies provided 250 civilian role-players for the exercise in which soldiers invade and pacify a fictional country.

With Kevin Brancato
Tiron is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Washington.

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