Anti-war train drivers refuse to move arms freight

James Rogers
14 Jan 2003 13:21:13 -0800

On Tue, 2003-01-14 at 09:44, Al Diablito wrote:
> As a whole, I have no doubt that we buy better stuff than any military 
> in the world. however, I would point out some notable exceptions: Bradley 
> Fighting Vehicle, Osprey, the original M16 rifles, etc. It is not the 
> flawless process you try to spin it as. 

Most of what you think you know about your "exceptions" are half-truths.

M16 - Brilliant and very innovative design, and received very favorable
reviews from the SpecOps and Ranger units that first used it.  When they
started deploying them in quantity, some rear echelon procurement
officer okayed a change to the ammo specification without consulting the
guys who actually engineered the weapon the ammo was for.  Some minor
reliability problems resulted (which were hyped no end by the media at
the time), which were quickly fixed by making the rifle tolerant and
adaptive to a wider range of ammo (easier than guaranteeing that the
ammo would always meet spec, I guess).  One of the advantages of the
rifle is that it is highly modular and most components can be upgraded
in the field, which has happened a few times since its introduction.

Bradley - Has a development history going back almost all the way to
WW2.  Which was part of the problem, as a lot of people touched the
design.  Over the decades it was being designed they kept on changing
the specs.  Since the vehicle it was supposed to replace was horribly
out-of-date, they (Rumsfeld?) decided to freeze the design spec (to
eliminate the perpetual feature creep and design morphing) and deploy it
on an "as is" basis.  The concept was to let design changes be driven
from feedback during field tests and to re-engineer and retrofit the
frozen design based on deficiencies determined by actual field tests. 
While the design of the Bradley was definitely shaky at first, the use
of directed feedback from soldiers using the deployed version quickly
resulted in a very solid and well-designed implementation of the
concept.  The problem was primarily that of "best being the enemy of
good enough", where no one ever pulled the trigger to get it out of
design and into production.  A very expensive on that, though mostly due
to the sheer length of the design project. 

Osprey - In short, it was a very tough engineering problem with huge
potential pay-offs.  It took many years of research by NASA, Bell, and
others just to make the concept work at all, never mind be usable.  I
don't see any evidence of procurement stupidity; we were developing a
new aviation technology that promised substantially enhanced capability
over any existing platform.  It has had teething problems (since it is a
new design), but those are being worked out.

The US military has a design feedback process that works pretty well at
refining system designs.  Since the US military invests heavily in
advanced new technologies that no one has ever attempted before, we get
to find all the hidden bugs and problems that plague any new technology
for all the countries that copy the designs. Oh well.

> Also, it does not appear that we 
> were able to adequately protect and outfit our soldiers against what is know 
> as Gulf War syndrome, in what is generally regarded as a "successful" war.

There is some legitimate speculation the "Gulf War Syndrome" is roughly
equivalent to "Silicone Breast Implant Syndrome".  Lots of heat, very
little light, with every conceivable malady being attributed to it.  It
is true that there were some interesting health problems due to the
peculiarities of that region (and the parasites and other critters that
inhabit it), but nothing that rises above the noise floor of the average
population when you control for the known problems.

> My guess is that there are similar failures on the way for the ground troops 
> unfortunate enough to get sent to Iraq, even if the war itself ends up a 
> success. Depleted uranium, anyone? The troops will be treated as they always 
> are, cannon fodder for industrial concerns.

US soldiers are not treated as cannon fodder, and no vaguely clueful
person would think so.  I really don't need to make this argument
again.  The average infantry soldier is a very expensive piece of
capital equipment in the US military and are therefore very well
protected.  Hence why it is frequently safer to be a US soldier in a war
zone than a civilian in the general population these days, statistically
speaking.  And depleted uranium is not the bogey-man you apparently
think it is.

Feh.  Too many people get their news from Conspiracy NewsWire(tm).

> >For example, during the Cold War the US Army put their 
> >stamp of approval on the CZ-75 pistol, a weapon submitted by a Communist 
> >Bloc country.
> Thank you for that anecdote. It neatly illustrates the deception, hypocrisy, 
> and profiteering that lies behind all wars.

What it really shows is that the military leaders in charge of
procurement care more about taking care of their soldiers than they do
about the personal ambitions of politicians.  You seem to forget that
the military doesn't start wars, politicians do.


-James Rogers