The Pentagon has a lot to keep track of these days. But don’t ask the folks over there a difficult question like how many websites they manage. An official at the U.S. Department of Defense recently admitted that they have no idea how many websites the U.S. military bureaucracy oversees.
Army Col. Paul Haverstick, acting director of the Defense Media Activity, made the stunning admission late last month at a town hall for DMA employees, a talk that was first reported by Stars and Stripes.
“Between 2,000 and 5,000 is the estimate,” Haverstick said on April 24 when discussing the number of public-facing websites that the Pentagon controls. “We have less than a third of that.”
The video of Haverstick’s town hall has reportedly been deleted from YouTube, and it isn’t available on DVIDS, a media distribution channel controlled by the Defense Media Activity. The most recent DMA town hall available on DVIDS is from December 2018.
Haverstick recently considered hiring a contractor to do a proper assessment and figure out precisely how many websites they have, because “there’s just that many and we don’t know where to begin,” according to Stars and Stripes. But it’s not clear whether that plan has moved forward.
Department of Defense media officials were reached for comment via email this morning but couldn’t answer Gizmodo’s questions in time for publication. We’ll update this post when we hear back.
The Defense Media Activity oversees media relations for the military and manages websites for branches of the armed services like the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines. But it also has a large number of websites that the average American may not think about on a day-to-day basis, like the website for the Air Land Sea Application Center or the website for U.S. Strategic Command.
If a nuclear war ever breaks out, U.S. Strategic Command is the agency that will deliver America’s nuclear response, potentially sending the planet into a tailspin of nuclear holocaust that destroys all life as we know it. So that’s at least one website of the “between 2,000 and 5,000" estimate—the one where everything on Earth dies. Hopefully, they’re able to count the others soon.
But as silly as it sounds, none of this should be a surprise. The Pentagon recently underwent its very first financial audit in its history, which tried to take a look at the Department of Defense’s $2.7 trillion in assets. Saying that the DOD failed the audit would be an understatement. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are simply unaccounted for every time people take a close look at the military, to say nothing of the fact that they literally lose hundreds of buildings off their books.
The American people finance the U.S. military with $700 billion a year, so you’d expect that there’d be a decent inventory of what the Pentagon is doing with that money. But this relatively small problem, the fact that the Pentagon can’t even guess how many websites it controls, obviously speaks to a lot of deeper problems that aren’t going to be solved anytime soon.
If Col. Haverstick does hire a contractor to finally figure out how many websites the military runs we just hope he gets a receipt.