As Americans tune in to competitions between the best high school and college football teams this week, they'll also encounter a heavy dose of advertising, parades, and choreographed performances from the military. Though the Pentagon has cut its advertising budget in recent years, it still spent some $129 million last year and will run up a hefty bill at this year's bowl games.
Fiscal conservatives and dovish critics have suggested that these expenditures don't make sense in a time when the military is supposed to be drawing down its overseas engagements and tightening its belt. Furthermore, the marketing money could be used to repair aging equipment which can endanger soldiers. Defenders of the marketing splurge argue that in the grand scheme of the Pentagon's budget, a few tens of millions of dollars don't really matter.