Friday, February 16, 2007

All the time the Pentagon is thinking...

David Seaton's News Links
Andrew Cockburn's article about how a low-tech, explosive device that can be whipped up in a neighborhood machine shop for about twenty bucks has the entire R+D establishment of America's mastodontic military-industrial complex stymied, reminds me of of a famous boxing story.

Jack Dempsey, one of the greatest heavyweight champions in history fought another boxer who was supposedly very scientific. Dempsey recalled, "All the time he was boxing, he was thinking, and all the time he was thinking, I was hitting him."

Creating immensely complicated and astronomically expensive weapons systems, totally divorced from the reality of America's war fighting, would appear another sign of decadence. It reminds me of Swift's scientists that attempted to extract sunbeams from cucumbers.

I'd like to make it clear that I don't for a minute believe that the American people themselves are decadent: there are too many fresh, eager immigrants arriving every day for that to be true. But clearly dry rot seems to have set in at the top. DS

Andrew Cockburn: In Iraq, anyone can make a bomb - Los Angeles Times
Abstract: EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."(...) "You can do as much or more damage with a 5-pound EFP, which is aimed, as with a 200-pound conventional IED, where most of the energy is dissipated away from the target," the Pentagon analyst said. The U.S. has (belatedly) responded to the IED threat by "up-armoring" Humvees and other vulnerable vehicles, but EFPs can cleave through the very thickest armor "like butter," as one Iraq veteran told me. As of now, these weapons represent only a small fraction of the bombs used against U.S. forces. Last month, according to my Pentagon sources, out of 3,000 IEDs directed at occupation troops, only 2.5% were EFPs. But a further statistic explains why these particular weapons are so feared by soldiers encased in their armored vehicles: Despite the relatively tiny number deployed, since November they have accounted for fully 15% of U.S. bomb casualties, and that percentage is ticking up. Anyone pondering the implications of this trend need only look to the Israeli experience in Lebanon during the 1990s to see where it might end. "These bombs drove the Israelis out of Lebanon," a former Pentagon weapons-effects expert told me unequivocally.(...) Hezbollah's expertise with EFPs is one reason why the administration, despite minimal intelligence, has been quick to blame Hezbollah's Iranian allies for the proliferation of the devices in Iraq. But EFPs have a venerable history. The IRA used them with lethal effect against British troops in Northern Ireland, as did French resistance fighters against the Germans in World War II. It is only a question of time before someone shows the Taliban how to make them, and then NATO forces in Afghanistan will begin the same ordeal. Despite their known lethality, these weapons weren't taken into account by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's program of military "transformation." Indeed, Rumsfeld bequeathed the Army the Future Combat Systems, a $168-billion extravaganza of computers, sensors and robots deemed by its proponents so deadly to a foe that armor on U.S. military vehicles might be dispensed with altogether. Once it became impossible to ignore the threat of all kinds of "home-made" bombs, and EFPs in particular, Rumsfeld responded in orthodox fashion by throwing money at the problem. A "joint IED defeat" task force was created to address the issue, and last year it was granted $3.32 billion, but with little result. True, each Humvee patrolling Iraqi roads now carries two specially designed jammers, costing $100,000 apiece, that jam radio signals detonating roadside bombs. The other side has simply switched to wire detonators or infrared systems. One hundred towers spouting remote cameras, at $12 million each, watch main roads for bomb planters, with no improvement in attack and casualty statistics. Rumsfeld's mentor, defense intellectual Andrew Marshall, marketed the phrase "revolution in military affairs" as a justification for high-tech programs such as Future Combat Systems. But those copper disks represent the real revolution in military affairs, and it is not in our favor. READ IT ALL


RoseCovered Glasses said...



General Dynamics gets $80M Award fee for delivery. The Military Industrial Complex does it again.

Please see following article in The Washington Post:

It is time to view once again the vintage movie, "Pentagon Wars". You can still order it for about $8.00 from many video supply sources on the web. It is a humorous but remarkably true story of the design and development of one of the costliest weapons systems ever to grace the Pentagon Budget, the "Bradley Fighting Vehicle". The movie was produced by HBO and starred Kelsey Grammer as the Pentagon General who led the government establishment sponsoring the vehicle program. The profusion of design and performance specification changes and other difficulties which plagued the program for years were hilariously but accurately portrayed in the film.

The new "Marine Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle" is sure to rival the Bradley if it goes to production. According to the Post Article above, the Marines may choose a wiser course and scrap the prototype, starting over with 7 new prototypes over 2 more years, costing $22M each.

Now that's a bargain!

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) ever since we took on Russia in the Cold WAR.

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

bobbywally said...

"My best thinking got me here."

You can here that sentence spoken at any AA meeting.

How much longer can the cult of moron ism [a spell checker?] continue?

I realize that my response can be applied to any number of your posts. And it's no wonder so many citizens tune out.

I have never been in combat, and I guess that neither has the best and the brightest who make up our pentagon plutocracy.

Should I be buying gold?