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Zirpoli: Building Trump’s wall takes money away from projects for our troops

Where is the outrage from Republicans as Trump orders the Pentagon to cancel projects that benefit our troops and their families, here and overseas, so that Trump can build a small section of his wall on the border with Mexico?

Trump said, dozens of times, that Mexico was going to pay for the wall. Instead, our troops and their families are paying for it.

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The Department of Defense has released a list of $3.6 billion worth of military construction projects —127 projects in all — that have been canceled so that the money for those projects can be transferred to pay for some of Trump’s wall. About half of the money is being diverted from domestic projects and the other half from our troops abroad. Another $2.5 billion from a military drug interdiction program is also being diverted.

Nine new or renovated schools for military children have been canceled for Trump’s wall. These include a middle school to be built at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and an elementary school at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not too happy about this and has defended the funding of the Kentucky school to his friends at the Pentagon.

Three of the deleted schools were for our military families in Germany (three elementary schools), two in Japan (an elementary and high school), and one in Great Britain (a joint elementary/middle school).

A Child Development Center, scheduled for Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, has also been canceled.

Disabled soldiers will not get the addition planned for the ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The students at the US Military Academy in New York will not get their new cngineering center or a parking garage.

Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida will not get its fire and crash rescue station. The pilots there will just have to be extra careful.

The troops at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas will not get their dining facility.

The troops at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska will just have to be cold for another winter. The money to repair their two heating plants will be used to build a wall on the Mexican border where there is no need for heaters.

Pilots at the Channel Islands National Guard Station in California will have to do without a C-130J flight simulator facility to learn how to fly that airplane.

Multiple troop training facilities and schools from Hawaii to New York have been canceled, as well as dozens of weapon ranges for troops to fire everything from small arms to tanks.

Security for our troops has also been compromised as security improvements at bases in Hawaii and Colorado have been canceled.

Here in Maryland, $66.5 million in construction projects at Fort Meade and Andrews Air Force Base have been canceled, including the child development center mentioned above.

In Virginia, where they just had a very close call with Hurricane Dorian, safe storage warehouses for hazardous material on bases in Norfolk and Portsmouth have been canceled. A cyber ops facility at Langley-Eustis was also canceled there, along with a ships maintenance facility for the Navy.

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Trump has never been a fan of Puerto Rico, but the United States has many military facilities there. About $278 million in military construction projects have been canceled for Puerto Rico including a dining facility for our troops, a maintenance facility, and a power station.

These facilities were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Maria two years ago.

Our troops living on U.S. military bases overseas in 19 countries will see the cancellation of projects. Troops in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom will be hit especially hard with the most cuts. In Italy, a military runway will not receive $66 million in repairs.

Another runway in Hungary will also do without $30 million in a needed repair. And the Navy will do without a fuel pier it needs in Japan.

This is a small sample of the 127 military projects that will not be built so that Trump can build 234 miles of wall on the 1,954-mile border with Mexico. The projects, especially schools for our children and rehabilitation centers for our troops, are clearly more worthy than a wall which will not impact the crisis of asylum seekers at legal checkpoints on the border.

These canceled projects also point to Trump’s disregard for our troops and their families. When asked about the projects to be cut, Trump said, “I won’t go into details, but it didn’t sound too important to me.”

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator for the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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