Tuesday, July 16, 2019

War Profiteers and the Demise of the US Military-Industrial Complex

Within the vast bureaucratic sprawl of the Pentagon there is a group in charge of monitoring the general state of the military-industrial complex and its continued ability to fulfill the requirements of the national defense strategy. Office for acquisition and sustainment and office for industrial policy spends some $100,000 a year producing an Annual Report to Congress. It is available to the general public. It is even available to the general public in Russia, and Russian experts had a really good time poring over it.

In fact, it filled them with optimism. You see, Russia wants peace but the US seems to want war and keeps making threatening gestures against a longish list of countries that refuse to do its bidding or simply don’t share its “universal values.” But now it turns out that threats (and the increasingly toothless economic sanctions) are pretty much all that the US is still capable of dishing out—this in spite of absolutely astronomical levels of defense spending. Let’s see what the US military-industrial complex looks like through a Russian lens.

It is important to note that the report’s authors were not aiming to force legislators to finance some specific project. This makes it more valuable than numerous other sources, whose authors’ main objective was to belly up to the federal feeding trough, and which therefore tend to be light on facts and heavy on hype. No doubt, politics still played a part in how various details are portrayed, but there seems to be a limit to the number of problems its authors can airbrush out of the picture and still do a reasonable job in analyzing the situation and in formulating their recommendations.

What knocked Russian analysis over with a feather is the fact that these INDPOL experts (who, like the rest of the US DOD, love acronyms) evaluate the US military-industrial complex from a… market-based perspective! You see, the Russian military-industrial complex is fully owned by the Russian government and works exclusively in its interests; anything else would be considered treason. But the US military-industrial complex is evaluated based on its… profitability! According to INDPOL, it must not only produce products for the military but also acquire market share in the global weapons trade and, perhaps most importantly, maximize profitability for private investors. By this standard, it is doing well: for 2017 the gross margin (EBITDA) for US defense contractors ranged from 15 to 17%, and some subcontractors—Transdigm, for example—managed to deliver no less than 42-45%. “Ah!” cry the Russian experts, “We’ve found the problem! The Americans have legalized war profiteering!” (This, by the way, is but one of many instances of something called systemic corruption, which is rife in the US.)

It would be one thing if each defense contractor simply took its cut off the top, but instead there is an entire food chain of defense contractors, all of which are legally required, no less, to maximize profits for their shareholders. More than 28,000 companies are involved, but the actual first-tier defense contractors with which the Pentagon places 2/3 of all defense contracts are just the Big Six: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynmics, BAE Systems and Boeing. All the other companies are organized into a pyramid of subcontractors with five levels of hierarchy, and at each level they do their best to milk the tier above them.

The insistence on market-based methods and the requirement of maximizing profitability turns out to be incompatible with defense spending on a very basic level: defense spending is intermittent and cyclical, with long fallow intervals between major orders. This has forced even the Big Six to make cuts to their defense-directed departments in favor of expanding civilian production. Also, in spite of the huge size of the US defense budget, it is of finite size (there being just one planet to blow up), as is the global weapons market. Since, in a market economy, every company faces the choice of grow or get bought out, this has precipitated scores of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in a highly consolidated marketplace with a few major players in each space.

As a result, in most spaces, of which the report’s authors discuss 17, including the Navy, land forces, air force, electronics, nuclear weapons, space technology and so on, at least a third of the time the Pentagon has a choice of exactly one contractor for any given contract, causing quality and timeliness to suffer and driving up prices.

In a number of cases, in spite of its industrial and financial might, the Pentagon has encountered insoluble problems. Specifically, it turns out that the US has only one shipyard left that is capable of building nuclear aircraft carriers (at all, that is; the USS Gerald Ford is not exactly a success). That is Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport, Virginia. In theory, it could work on three ships in parallel, but two of the slips are permanently occupied by existing aircraft carriers that require maintenance. This is not a unique case: the number of shipyards capable of building nuclear submarines, destroyers and other types of vessels is also exactly one. Thus, in case of a protracted conflict with a serious adversary in which a significant portion of the US Navy has been sunk, ships will be impossible to replace within any reasonable amount of time.

The situation is somewhat better with regard to aircraft manufacturing. The plants that exist can produce 40 planes a month and could produce 130 a month if pressed. On the other hand, the situation with tanks and artillery is absolutely dismal. According to this report, the US has completely lost the competency for building the new generation of tanks. It is no longer even a question of missing plant and equipment; in the US, a second generation of engineers who have never designed a tank is currently going into retirement. Their replacements have no one to learn from and only know about modern tanks from movies and video games. As far as artillery, there is just one remaining production line in the US that can produce barrels larger than 40mm; it is fully booked up and would be unable to ramp up production in case of war. The contractor is unwilling to expand production without the Pentagon guaranteeing at least 45% utilization, since that would be unprofitable.

The situation is similar for the entire list of areas; it is better for dual-use technologies that can be sourced from civilian companies and significantly worse for highly specialized ones. Unit cost for every type of military equipment goes up year after year while the volumes being acquired continuously trend lower—sometimes all the way to zero. Over the past 15 years the US hasn’t acquired a single new tank. They keep modernizing the old ones, but at a rate that’s no higher than 100 a year.

Because of all these tendencies and trends, the defense industry continues to lose not only qualified personnel but also the very ability to perform the work. INDPOL experts estimate that the deficit in machine tools has reached 27%. Over the past quarter-century the US has stopped manufacturing a wide variety of manufacturing equipment. Only half of these tools can be imported from allies or friendly nations; for the rest, there is just one source: China. They analyzed the supply chains for 600 of the most important types of weapons and found that a third of them have breaks in them while another third have completely broken down. In the Pentagon’s five-tier subcontractor pyramid, component manufacturers are almost always relegated to the bottommost tier, and the notices they issue when they terminate production or shut down completely tend to drown in the Pentagon’s bureaucratic swamp.

The end result of all this is that theoretically the Pentagon is still capable of doing small production runs of weapons to compensate for ongoing losses in localized, low-intensity conflicts during a general time of peace, but even today this is at the extreme end of its capabilities. In case of a serious conflict with any well-armed nation, all it will be able to rely on is the existing stockpile of ordnance and spare parts, which will be quickly depleted.

A similar situation prevails in the area of rare earth elements and other materials for producing electronics. At the moment, the accumulated stockpile of these supplies needed for producing missiles and space technology—most importantly, satellites—is sufficient for five years at the current rate of use.

The report specifically calls out the dire situation in the area of strategic nuclear weapons. Almost all the technology for communications, targeting, trajectory calculations and arming of the ICBM warheads was developed in the 1960s and 70s. To this day, data is loaded from 5-inch floppy diskettes, which were last mass-produced 15 years ago. There are no replacements for them and the people who designed them are busy pushing up daisies. The choice is between buying tiny production runs of all the consumables at an extravagant expense and developing from scratch the entire land-based strategic triad component at the cost of three annual Pentagon budgets.

There are lots of specific problems in each area described in the report, but the main one is loss of competence among technical and engineering staff caused by a low level of orders for replacements or for new product development. The situation is such that promising new theoretical developments coming out of research centers such as DARPA cannot be realized given the present set of technical competencies. For a number of key specializations there are fewer than three dozen trained, experienced specialists.

This situation is expected to continue to deteriorate, with the number of personnel employed in the defense sector declining 11-16% over the next decade, mainly due to a shortage of young candidates qualified to replace those who are retiring. A specific example: development work on the F-35 is nearing completion and there won’t be a need to develop a new jet fighter until 2035-2040; in the meantime, the personnel who were involved in its development will be idled and their level of competence will deteriorate.

Although at the moment the US still leads the world in defense spending ($610 billion of $1.7 trillion in 2017, which is roughly 36% of all the military spending on the planet) the US economy is no longer able to support the entire technology pyramid even in a time of relative peace and prosperity. On paper the US still looks like a leader in military technology, but the foundations of its military supremacy have eroded. Results of this are plainly visible:

• The US threatened North Korea with military action but was then forced to back off because it has no ability to fight a war against it.

• The US threatened Iran with military action but was then forced to back off because it has no ability to fight a war against it.

• The US lost the war in Afghanistan to the Taliban, and once the longest military conflict in US history is finally over the political situation there will return to status quo ante with the Taliban in charge and Islamic terrorist training camps back in operation.

• US proxies (Saudi Arabia, mostly) fighting in Yemen have produced a humanitarian disaster but have been unable to prevail militarily.

• US actions in Syria have led to a consolidation of power and territory by the Syrian government and newly dominant regional position for Russia, Iran and Turkey.

• The second-largest NATO power Turkey has purchased Russian S-400 air defense systems. The US alternative is the Patriot system, which is twice as expensive and doesn’t really work.

All of this points to the fact that the US is no longer much a military power at all. This is good news for at least the following four reasons.

First, the US is by far the most belligerent country on Earth, having invaded scores of nations and continuing to occupy many of them. The fact that it can’t fight any more means that opportunities for peace are bound to increase.

Second, once the news sinks in that the Pentagon is nothing more than a flush toilet for public funds its funding will be cut off and the population of the US might see the money that is currently fattening up war profiteers being spent on some roads and bridges, although it’s looking far more likely that it will all go into paying interest expense on federal debt (while supplies last).

Third, US politicians will lose the ability to keep the populace in a state of permanent anxiety about “national security.” In fact, the US has “natural security”—two oceans—and doesn’t need much national defense at all (provided it keeps to itself and doesn’t try to make trouble for others). The Canadians aren’t going to invade, and while the southern border does need some guarding, that can be taken care of at the state/county level by some good ol’ boys using weapons and ammo they already happen to have on hand. Once this $1.7 trillion “national defense” monkey is off their backs, ordinary American citizens will be able to work less, play more and feel less aggressive, anxious, depressed and paranoid.

Last but not least, it will be wonderful to see the war profiteers reduced to scraping under sofa cushions for loose change. All that the US military has been able to produce for a long time now is misery, the technical term for which is “humanitarian disaster.” Look at the aftermath of US military involvement in Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and what do you see? You see misery—both for the locals and for US citizens who lost their family members, had their limbs blown off, or are now suffering from PTSD or brain injury. It would be only fair if that misery were to circle back to those who had profited from it.

Research credit: Alexander Zapolskis


Mister Roboto said...

Once this $1.7 trillion “national defense” monkey is off their backs, ordinary American citizens will be able to work less, play more and feel less aggressive, anxious, depressed and paranoid.

I think I would like that very much. I would also like to see this country at least try to get along better with Russia and China. Nuclear war is one of the few things the very thought of which genuinely terrifies me.

I have long suspected that the last time the US was a real world leader in many things was the nineties, and even then, we were probably just coasting on legacies.

sykes.1 said...

Would it be possible the get a breakdown of the $1.7 trillion? The actual defense budget is something over $700 billion, and there is supposedly defense related expenditures like pensions and the VA hospitals that amount to another $300 billion. But that still leaves $700 billion unaccounted for. I don't think the cost of the intelligence services comes anywhere near that number.

Please explain.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Try reading the report.

4.1.United States Contribution to Global Defense SpendingGlobal military spending continues to grow, expanding from $1.3trillion in 2008 to $1.7 trillion in 2017. The United States continues to be the main source of defense spending and accounted for ~36% of global defense spending in 2017. U.S. defense spending increased from $557 billion in 2007 to $610 billion in 2017. The second largest military spender is China, which doubled its spending from ~$100 billion in 2007 to $228 billion in 2017.7 Beyond China and the United States, defense spending grew from ~700 billion in 2007 to ~900 billion in 2017,8 led by Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, France, the U.K., Germany, Japan, and South Korea.9Figure 12 illustrates the annual military spending of the United States, China, and the rest of the world. As spending grows, defense firms globally are poised to capitalize on this trend.

smoothiex12 said...

Excellent piece, Dmitry.

Robin Morrison said...

Unless there's been a significant reduction in the Dominionist Xtian influence in the military, my grave concern (I want to be buried with that pun when time comes) is that nuclear weapons are the openly area where the USA crackpot ruling elites will; be able to express their infantile illusory sense of irrefutable righteous power.

History as I've read it suggests this is virtually inevitable. Knee-jerk dummies tend to jerk knees first and notice they're been hammered into bony pulp cartilaginous pulp later.

Or like Humphrey Bogart (I think) said on one of his movies, or was it Newman/Redford in The Sting? "Once a sucker, always a sucker."

The USA's capacity to suckerpunch itself to death by launching nukes seems stronger than ever. even if half those missiles prove duds owing to the sorry state of military technomaintenance.

ivar laegreid said...

thank you for another very good article and for the good news contained in it :)

Vladimir said...

Well all that may be true but-
US still have powerfull vasals:
Germany to produce tanks & Howitzers,
UK, Japan, France for planes and shipx

so better to avoid any conflict

DurangoKid said...

There's an old say that goes 'as the twig is bent the tree shall grow.' The US started out as a colony and so it remains. The so-called Revolutionary War wasn't a revolution so much as a rap across the knuckles of George III. The Founding Fathers simply replaced one set of sticky fingers with their own. The working assumption continues to be that every enterprise has to be a profit making venture. Wherever anything is made or sold, someone in the private sector has to get a cut. All other concerns are in the back seat including the functionality of some commodity or service. Witness the F-35 that is so complicated it doesn't work let alone fulfill its purported mission. Every feature on that aircraft generates a profit. The more features, the more profit. Worse still, this hyper-sophistication dovetails with the political demand that fewer soldiers be in harms way. Having the country's youth come home on body bags is a tough sell. Add to that ineffectual hardware and policies and the money just keeps pouring in. The US empire has turned to colonizing itself as all empires do. The center is bled to feed the periphery. This mentality finds its way into other sectors, too. The California high speed rail project comes to mind. It was ultimately killed by systemic corruption. Trump's election was another. The media saw it as their cash cow with little attention paid to what would happen if that scheister got elected. That's just an externality. It's a systemic problem and the only solution offered is incrementalism. Good luck.

Teddy said...

I remember reading an article and they were talking about 8 inch diskette, which they were used in the 70's

Greg Simay said...

And don't forget that the portion of the federal debt service attributable to defense spending should also be counted as part of the defense-related budget.

A more peaceful world is good even if all of us wind up looking for change under the cushions because we can no longer impose the petrodollar on the world.

Robert Magill said...


DeVaul said...

“And don't forget that the portion of the federal debt service attributable to defense spending should also be counted as part of the defense-related budget.“


Most of the national debt is defense spending, which has to be borrowed ever since Reagan stole the Social Security Fund to pay for the MX missile program. As for those 5 inch floppy disks, no one can hack into them because of their archaic nature, so I kind of prefer that to modern systems connected to phone lines or wireless systems that are extremely vulnerable no matter what people say.

In a way, Trump really does represent America. His ego drove him to run for president and win any way he could, but when presented with the actual job itself, he complained that he had no idea being president would involve “so much work.” If that doesn’t represent the mentality of America, I don’t know what does.

Nathan said...

"In fact, the US has “natural security”—two oceans..." Dmitry, for a while now I've been meaning to ask if you have anything to say about Jared Diamond's work? His most recent book "Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis" lists quite a few geographic advantages that the US has, including two major ocean coastlines with abundant natural deepwater harbours. There are some obvious parallels between your work, though you have shown far more versatility in being able to move quickly between the "30,000 foot view" and the "grass-roots practical application". Diamond seems to remain at 30,000 feet.

Esn said...

What about those recent UFO reports in the news, about the craft that move super-fast and stay still in the air? There's speculation that they're some secret craft developed by the US military. Isn't there a large "black" part of the budget? Perhaps some of the better things are secret.
There was that helicopter that was secret until it was used for the Bin Laden raid.

"paying interest expense on federal debt"
Doesn't the US control the interest rate on that debt? They can just keep on racking up debt forever and lowering the interest rate to whatever they can afford. The other countries will just keep buying US treasuries and using the US dollar; "tribute", under another name.

Maybe some countries such as Russia will stop paying the tribute, but the US hold on the EU, Latin America and the Anglosphere seems to be only increasing.

As for the supposed defense provided by the oceans, have you seen this, and what are your thoughts?
If that's at all accurate, then Russia is in a much better situation.

Tosha said...

In the report it says: "Global military spending continues to grow, expanding from $1.3trillion in 2008 to $1.7 trillion in 2017. The United States continues to be the main source of defense spending and accounted for ~36% of global defense spending in 2017. U.S. defense spending increased from $557 billion in 2007 to $610 billion in 2017"
So it seems like the US defense spending is 610 billion, not 1.7 trillion which is what everybody on the globe spends. But hey - even a 610 billion monkey off our back is a good deal.

John Casey said...

Trenchant and funny at once. Nice work. I agree that "once the news sinks in that the Pentagon is nothing more than a flush toilet for public funds its funding will be cut off" but I strongly suspect that to get to that point, the US public -- which to my eye appears to be living in a sort of induced coma of distraction and delusion -- will need a catalyzing event, in the form of a serious defeat, to be knocked back into consciousness.

Beagle Juice said...

Well done, Dmitry! However, I think you're missing the point when you state, "All that the US military has been able to produce for a long time now is misery." Nothing could be further from the truth. The interests behind this massive "defense" spending have been able to amass such vast fortunes that six of the ten wealthiest counties in America are now located in the Washington DC area. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/swamps-gold-6-of-10-richest-counties-in-america-are-dc-suburbs-10-of-the-top-20
Even still, I consider it a mistake to calculate this accomplishment only in terms of dollars and cents. We need to consider the pride (sense of self-importance) that is engendered in this class of people when they can display this wealth to their friends and relatives. https://billmoyers.com/story/washingtons-libido-for-the-ugly/
After all, there's nothing more highly valued in America than self-esteem, so we must celebrate anything that encourages this.

Arioch, the said...

There is anecdotal evidence to this profits-uber-alles consequences.

1960-s brought the problem: jet fighter pilot has to know how much fuel he has, but the tanks are squeezed to any possible holes left unused in the fuselage, so have very irregular form. Also, there was no handheld computers back then that could do calculations on the go. The fuel sensor, submerged into irregularly formed tank, should had immediately form some measurable electric value adjusted to the tank form.

1st generation sensors were the same in USA and USSR: crude and complex "rods" made of different diameter tubes. Wish each small cylinder matching average surface of the correspondent tank "layer".

It was very complex to produce and verify. It cost a lot. And - the very look at it made clear how complex are military problems and why they are worth money demanded.

After a while USSR produced 2nd generation sensor. It was a regular steel tube, but with a irregular form cut made along it. A width of the gap alone the pipe correspondent to the tank surface layer. However it was much cheaper to do. It also was much more accurate: cylinders had to have some minimal height, and the slit shape could vary smoothly.

For a weapon it was huge success: the sensor became more simple (more reliable in both use and storing/transporting), more cheap (faster mass-produced if need be), more accurate, more light (always good for an aircraft). All at once.

For a product it was huge blunder: how obviously expensive and complex looked 1st gen sensors, so obviously cheap and simple looked 2nd gen sensors. You could not charge easily explainable extra for new sensors.

USSR reportedly switched to new sensors "overnight", USA never.

sykes.1 said...

Dear Dmitri,

What the report at 4.1 actually says is, "Global military spending continues to grow, expanding from $1.3 trillion in 2008
to $1.7 trillion in 2017. The United States continues to be the main source of defense spending and accounted for ~36% of global defense spending in 2017."

So the $1.7 trillion figure is total world spending, not US spending. US spending is 36% of world total.

The defense budget working its way through Congress is something like $730 billion for the next fiscal year.

Robin Morrison said...

(reposted cuz I forgot a crucial sentence clause)I've been reading I Shall Bear Witness by Victor Klemperer (no relation to the famous conductor father and Hogan's Heroes son, alas), wherein he chronicles his experience as a Jewish professor in Germany from 1933 to 1945. Forget the comparisons between Trump and Hitler. They're a form of reality-based TV show currently filming in the White House.

Instead, note the comparisons between 1930s Germans, conservatives, liberals, what-have-yous at that time, and Americans today.

They were clueless up to the time when food stopped appearing regularly on their tables, and Germany was conscripting 15&16 year old boys for the front.

The funding will continue but probably with virtue-signaling vale additives including the ALL LGBT Rainbow Infantry Division. Now that it has become virtually impossible to seriously consider a Democrat winning the next election, we can count on more Trump, and probably a Trump more bored, discouraged, and yet, still frightened by his Big Job, and therefore willing to let his delegated knaves do as they will until he realizes with horror that the bloody oafs (now literally true) have managed to trigger a nuclear exchange despite his stern orders not to.

Hail Atlantis! I'm STILL not a robot! woohoo!

Jayhawk said...

Once again comes to mind Obama's comment that, "Russia is a regional power that doesn't make anything." That comment was made at a time that we were buying rocket engines from Russia because we had no company in this nation that could make them, and of course the government could not do so. The lack of national self awareness is simply mind boggling.

alex carter said...

John Casey - I see My Fellow Americans(tm) as being as brainwashed as the Japanese pre-WWII. It will take a crushing defeat indeed.

Literally, my first thought on 9-11 was, "What did we *do* to someone to hurt them badly enough that they did this?" The average American didn't think this; they thought something along the lines of, "Those damn Ay-Rabs hate our Freedoms(tm) and are trying to take them away!"

DeVaul said...

@ John Casey,

I believe the “catalyzing event” will be empty food shelves and empty gas stations. What then? Our isolation, as I prefer to call it, will ensure that we all turn on each other. Americans cannot cross the desert to Mexico, nor can they survive the sub-zero temperatures in Canada. The two oceans actually ensure the safety of the rest of the world. The Silk Road does not cross our territory.

Imagine 50 rats in a small cage placed on a pedestal surrounded by salt water. They are denied food and water, or only a tiny bit trickles in. What do you think will happen?

Kevin Frost said...

Excellent; many thanks. Impressively researched; trenchant analysis. Answers lots of pertinent questions. I'm surely getting my money's worth. At something like 12.5 cents apiece I'm doing well. Cheap at twice the price, and then some. Thanks again - Kevin Frost

Kevin Frost said...

KJF again: correction. Not 12.5 but a full two bits. But I still think I come out ahead, best -

Bruno said...

The US has built so many (useless) aircraft carriers that it is running out of presidents to name them!

It was left with using the good name of Gerald Ford, a two year president who was not elected, and who is one of the rare presidents who was not a war criminal...

Having said that, there is zero probability that a single dollar of the war (defence?) department will ever be diverted for better use.

The country will proudly sink with its (military) ship.

The US army is probably the less efficient in the world.

It dominates only thanks to its air superiority and a bunch of cowards bombing civilians from 45,000 feet above, or from some warehouse in Nevada, using a drone and a joystick... practices which are in essence very similar to those used by terrorists.

The oceans on each side of the continental US are both a natural protection and a danger.

Russia could destroy both coasts by setting giant tsunamis, without even having to fire a single shot, or drop a single missile... clean and very effective...

Moderator said...

Yes, nice summary and funny at the end. Many of these facts were familiar to anyone following the matter even without a specific US report.

Whilst reading, I had this funny image how US starts the mythical Nuclear First Strike and due to accumulated errors on its 5 1/4 floppies (really, really floppy and rather unreliable, totally opposite to what someone here commented) the bastards blow themselves up. In reality, the ICBMs could not explode because of floppy drives then because of many other past use-date components. Unlike cathode ray tubes, all solid state electronics has quite limited lifespan. Some electronics are being replaced and upgraded but not all. The US nuclear weapon modernization program requires $1T starting cost (meaning $4T minimum real cost), whilst even the power grid in the major US cities is collapsing, not to mention roads, crooked Boeing planes etc. It is so terribly expensive to rule the World, whilst Pompous Maximus and Bull-by-Ton keep threatening Iran and the World.

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for yet another excellent article.The U.S. is blindly sleep walking over a deadly abyss to its demise. It requires a miracle to heal blindness.
Due to their abominable wickedness, even to their own people, sadly I do not see
any hope for them, and the rest of us.

RB Seymour said...

Fantastic article. I will be reading it aloud to my neighbors since i’m Pretty sure they can’t read.

James M Dakin said...

Nathan- Jared Diamond jumped the shark. I have every one of his books ( I think ), and they have gotten worse. By this point I have to wonder about dementia. I tried reading his latest and he spent so much time padding it with political correctness I simply gave up and stopped reading. Anything of value was lost on me as he tried to prove how progressive he is.

tsisageya said...

Forgive me if I'm wrong but, in all the talk of treason, is there ever any mention of Israel/U.S connection? Dual citizenship within my government, for example? Honey, let me tell you, it ain't Russia. But thanks for all the rest of it, Dmitry.

alex carter said...

Robin Morrison - Nope, he is/was related to Col. Klink all right.


Bruno said...

James, I agree with you about Jared Diamond, whose books I have all read.

The last one is so bad that I directly jumped to the latest chapters, dealing with the USA, out of curiosity... not worth it... there is better, free, literature on the subject, every day on the internet.

RB Seymour, you make me laugh... and thanks to the others for your comments which I enjoy reading as much as the original post.

Nice to see that there is at least some awareness in an ocean of delusion...

Veronica said...

Interesting indication of the value and truth of this post, Dmitry, is that I have had a very hard time sharing it on Twitter. It keeps refusing to post any tweet with a reference to it, and several others who "follow" me had the same problem. Finally got through by breaking up the URL. I'll keep trying...

tsisageya said...

I wonder what regular women think about US/RAEL war. Someone like me, perhaps.

tsisageya said...

Poor men/and their female cohorts. They always seem to be on the side of war. What a terrible thing.

Geoffrey Barans said...

So does this mean that money we don't need spent on the military can go to where it's actually needed?

robespyros said...

Fine news, and a fine article. By the way, twitter refuses to tweet it.

Unknown said...

William Manchester in 'The Arms of Krupp' made a similar point using the Panther and Tiger tanks. To boost Krupp's profit these tanks were 'junked up' with complicated and fragile Extras that looked good on paper but could not be sustained or serviced in the field. Detroit has long ago fallen prey to doing the same 'junking up' with domestic autos. And look how the mighty have fallen.

US and Nato war planes and ships are mostly, all the time, being serviced. Russian stuff is combat ready.

Arioch, the said...

I believe it is cultural thing, and not about profits. Afterall it was Hitler himself who pushed for useless mega-projects like Mouse tank, Rat tank and stratospheric mega-cannon.

I believe the core issue is goal of the army, and thus of army weapon.

USA and Third Reich were aggressive colonial powers. They expected wars in which:
1. They would be sending perfectly educated professionals, capable of maintaining complex weapons and squeezing every drop of efficiency of those extras.
2. They would have war pledged on subhumans lands, thus their own engineering and industrial potential would not be degraded and would be capable to produce and repair complex weapons. Remember, during invasion into Iraq USA had leisure to ship broken tanks across ocean for repairing them in American factories.

On the contrary, USSR and inheriting him Russia expect different kind of war:
1. Being suddenly ambushed and initially overwhelmed they will not be capable of selecting "cream of a cream" and then gradually educating them until becoming super-pro. They would at large rely upon "next door Johns" forced to fight and repel invader.
2. Having war on their own soil see their industries and logistics largely disabled or even destroyed. In 1970-s USSR was designing ad hoc aircraft models, up to reusing parts of helicopters to produce workable albeit lo tech jet fighters. The premise was expectation that sudden NATO invasion would cut USSR into 5-6 isolated parts, which should remain capability to be independently producing at least some kind of AirForce to keep resistance.

Summing up, for USA and Third Reich weapons field servicing was not required but a handy extra, merely to reduce load on intact military industries and logistics. For USSR and Russia required property was ability to keep fighting with highly-professional soldiers gone and high-tech industry destroyed or captured by invaders.

Both armies got kind of weapons with features matching their expected wars