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Faulty Military Equipment in Mideast

October 21, 1990

I enjoyed your editorial "Have We Dulled Out Edge?" (Oct 12). We should not be surprised that our new military equipment is proving as faulty in the battlefield as it did in tests. The fault lies not in our soldiers but in our convoluted system of developing weapons. It's a tangle of special interests, none of those interests being the best defense of our country.

A congressman wants a weapon expensive enough to require a new plant in his district. Each branch of the military wants a weapon more impressive than the other three branches have. And the new weapon must be designed to do many things (rather than one thing well) because no one knows when the next new weapon will be approved by Congress.

A defense contractor will design the most experimental weapon imaginable while estimating the lowest imaginable cost. This insures that a) the weapon will be funded, b) those that designed it will build it, and c) when those "unforeseen" cost overruns appear, the budget will be increased accordingly.

All this leaves us with servicemen and women immobilized under malfunctioning, overbuilt promises. It's a shame that when the shooting starts they will pay the price for these poor designs. But they won't be the first. We taxpayers have been paying the price all along.

MATTHEW COOPER

Irvine

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