Angry Old Man Yells at Generals About Goats
A three-hour-long House Armed Service Committee hearing ended with unscheduled goat ranting
Top U.S. military brass convened on Capitol Hill on March 16 to sit before the House Armed Services Committee. The assorted generals, admirals and secretaries were there to testify about the Fiscal Year 2017 defense budget.
The testimony went on for three hours and covered a broad range of serious topics, from the readiness of the nation to the state of weapons systems such as the F-35 and A-10. Toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.) rambled about goats and wasteful Afghanistan spending.
Look, I’ve long written about America’s wasteful spending in Afghanistan. It’s an important topic and I’d love it if our elected representatives would hold the military’s feet to the fire.
But Jones didn’t do that. He meandered and bumbled through the topic before, finally, asking a vague question that had nothing to do with the specific problems he had brought up. Oh, and he left the hearing after 40 minutes, only to return in the last five to ramble and ask his question.
“I came back because I have great interest in our military,” Jones began before quickly devolving. Also note that his interest in the military was not great enough to keep him in his seat during the entire hearing.
He then bemoaned the military leadership’s testimony — despite not being present for most of it — and held up an article about wasteful Afghanistan spending he’d printed off the Internet. “Many of my colleagues … don’t agree with me on this issue and that’s fine,” Jones explained.
I’m guessing that many of them do agree with Jones’ position, but simply don’t like Jones and his long winded, bizarre and roundabout style of speaking.
“Then you have John Sopko before the Senate a month ago, testifying that the Department of Defense spent $6 million to buy nine goats from Italy,” Jones complained. “They were blonde in color … to ship to western Afghanistan so they could start a goat farm and get the wool and start a cashmere business.”
“He further testified to the Senate … he doesn’t know where the goats are. And someone asked him, ‘Do you think they ate them?’”
Neither Sopko, who is the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, nor Jones are joking. American taxpayers did blow $6 million on a cashmere goat farm in Afghanistan. But that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the billions the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies have squandered on rebuilding the country.
It’s also beside the point. Jones dithered for another minute before finally asking his question. I’ll paraphrase here because the actual question is literally three paragraphs of transcription.
The North Carolinian congressman asked the assorted American military leadership if they feel it’s their responsibility to inform the president of bad policy decisions. That’s it. “Do you feel this is your responsibility … would anyone like to answer that?”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley leaned over and answered yes. “And I’ve already done that,” he added, looking annoyed.
“I think my time is about to expire,” Jones replied. He then turned to the chairman and smiled. “And I tell the chairman all the time that I’m gonna try to stick to my time.”