[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

Reese howell.r at inkworkswell.com
Fri Jun 25 08:39:24 PDT 2010

On 24-Jun-10 18:53, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Jun 24, 2010, at 2:06 PM, Reese wrote:
>> How much money do you think has been spent on the F-22 and other
>> stealth toys that haven't really been needed since oh, 1989?
> A completely new and very advanced aircraft platform that averaged a fraction of a percent of the DoD budget? It was intended to replace an old and increasingly obsolete class of aircraft. The US has a long history of letting its weapon systems slip into obsolescence. After getting bitten by that repeatedly, they've taken a more proactive approach in the last half-century or so.

After 1989 (or was it 1991?), it was a weapon in need of an enemy,
there wasn't one.

Are you purposely failing to mention the JSF (F-35) program? The
increased costs of an alternate engine, parts inventory, training,
etc. etc. etc. and that whole boondoggle. Not to mention that as a
new design for a jet engine, it has been an abject waste with a
significantly higher testing failure rate than the industry standard
for new engine designs (about 1 failure per 13 hours versus 300 hours

>> The Osprey program,
> Ignoring that this was again a very tiny fraction of the DoD budget,

You keep saying that. How about you document it with some numbers?

> it was great engineering R&D. This has been a longstanding unsolved design problem that several countries have attempted to solve unsuccessfully. From an engineering standpoint, it is in most ways a completely new class of aircraft so the early implementations were going to be less reliable than types of aircraft that have had several decades to have the kinks worked out.

Great R&D, with a lot of technical problems that resulted in a lot of
crashes and the loss of a lot more lives than were necessary, with
inadequate reversions to the drawing board and sometimes proceeding
with operational testing even after flaws resulted in crashes and the
unnecessary loss of our lives.

It seems like another costly solution in search of an insignificant
problem. Another style of mouse trap where the existing and less
expensive traps work just fine, thank you very much.

>> or the development, manufacture, and maintenance
>> of both tactical and ballistic nuclear weapons?
> Development and manufacture?  The US has been dismantling these for a long time and currently has considerably fewer than Russia. The US hasn't produced a new design in ages.

Don't avoid the issue. How much has been spent, since the decision to
build Little Boy?

> Are you suggesting that we do away with nuclear weapons altogether? It *is* necessary to do maintenance on these things.

I'm suggesting that you name the cost of the program since its inception.

>> That doesn't even touch on the expense of maintaining overseas
>> bases
> Sure, but that's more of a State Department issue.

It is your claim that the bulk of DoD spending is on personnel. Do
you think the overseas bases are staffed by and paid for out of the
budget of the State Department? Even if you are correct about the
latter, what sort of wacky economics shell game is that?

>> or failed programs like SDI.
> SDI was a failed program in what way? A spectacular amount of new technology came out of that, almost every modern weapon system is heavily based on it. Outside of some new rocket motor designs that are still a bit dodgy -- no one understood the physics of such designs when they started that project -- the other bits are basically completed and in many cases deployed. Were you expecting spaceships and "pew-pew" weapons?

I was expecting something that would make nuclear weapons impotent
and obsolete, just like Reagan said. What were you expecting, a few
[b|tr]illion a year for the military-industrial complex?

>> And there is more, I'm sure.
>> That's just off the top of my head.
> There are two problems.  First, the programs you mentioned add up to a drop in the DoD budget bucket.

Again, you keep claiming that. Prove it.

>  Second, you somehow managed to single out the successful programs

Your definition of "successful programs" seems suspect. To wit:
   - The F-22 is significantly more expensive to fly, requiring much
     more and more expensive maintenance per flight hour than the
     average combat aircraft.
     This is not a success.
   - The Osprey saw many crashes with loss of life during proving
     grounds testing. Testing proceeded apace.
     This is not a success.
   - We've gone from being stereotypical nuclear families with white
     picket fences (1950s) to a world-wide society that must scramble
     to keep those same nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.
     We had nuclear arms races with other nations. There is a doomsday
     clock that will not read anything earlier than 11:45.
     None of this is a success.
   - With a goal of making nukes impotent and obsolete, we've spent
     a goddamned shitload of money over several decades but still
     can't shoot down an incoming ballistic missile (with dummy
     warhead) with any degree of reliability.
     This is not a success either.

> while managing to ignore many that really were a monumental waste of money.

Hey, name them. Bring 'em on, so I can add them to the list. Did you
miss where I wrote this?

    >> And there is more, I'm sure.
    >> That's just off the top of my head.

So, what are these "many" that were "a monumental waste..."?

> If you tally *all* R&D programs -- good, bad, or otherwise -- it is a small percentage of the total DoD budget.

Cite please.

> They spend more on diesel and jet fuel than they do on research, hence why they spend a lot of research dollars on things like reducing fuel requirements.

That I can believe. How would the numbers change if we were not
maintaining all the overseas bases or waging war on two fronts,
at least one of them wrongly-engaged and unjustifiable? (Thanks
for that, dubya.)

> It goes against a popular narrative, but most of DoD spending is operational, not weapons R&D. You could cut the R&D and new weapons to zero and it would barely make a dent.  On top of that, it would be stupid to cut it to zero because these new systems are usually designed to dramatically reduce operational expenses in a way that recovers the development cost over the service life.

You keep singling out R&D. I'm not. Here's another failed program:
Seawulf class submarines.

How much spent to build them and keep them running, after it was or
should have been realized that HY-130 and HY-160 castings were more
(not less) prone to cracking, despite all the precautions and repair
procedures that were effective on HY-80 and HY-100? We made what,
4 Seawulf class subs? With 3 still in service. Versus how many Los
Angeles class subs? How many 637 class subs before that, how many
593 class subs before that. What is the new one, Virginia class?
5 in service and 7 in the queue?

> The only way to save any significant money at DoD is to reduce the number of personnel required.

Sure, we can realize savings by reducing the size of our military. We
can also realize savings by reducing OPTEMPO and other things. After
all, we have the 1st and 2nd largest air forces (Air Force and Navy) in
the world. And I can believe that operational expenses add up quickly.
On acquiring and operating, maintaining, the toys. Not necessarily on
the personnel. You mentioned diesel and jet fuel? For the Navy only,
do you think those costs will change if we only reduce the size of the
permanent crews of ships and boats by 50% or more? Why would similar
cuts in other branches of service (except possibly the Air Force) bring
a different result. Witness the one-man-team assault landing craft and
tank crew. Let's hope no sniper picks him off when he transitions from
the wheelhouse of the landing craft to the tank, and that he can drive
the tank and fire all the weapons with combat efficiency. @@

> I leave it as an exercise to the reader as to how that can be achieved.

I leave as an exercise for you, proving your claims.


More information about the FoRK mailing list