Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Military procurement isn't in the hands of the military. It's in the hands of congress. When the military says "We need an upgraded widget", congress decides if they'll fund an upgraded widget. If congress agrees, then the military will begin a search for which company can provide the upgraded widget. There are competitions, field trials, etc.

THEN congress gets involved again. If the best, cheapest widget upgrade isn't produced in Massachusetts, murderer Senator Ted Kennedy gets up in arms. Or if it's not made in West Virginia, Grand Kleagle Senator Robert Byrd gets involved.

There are times in history when Congress has forced the military to procure a “second choice”. There are times when Congress has actually forced the military to procure something they didn't even want. I can't recall the specific example, but I think it was an aircraft.

Recently fourteen Marines were killed in an AAVP7A1. Lots of letters and numbers. In my day it was known as an LVTP-7. Not too much of an improvement, but I knew it stood for Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel.

Figure: Landing Vehicle. In other words, the thing floats. Not well, mind you. I have great respect for the Marines that get into those things. I've seen them launched, and they just b a r e l y float.

But float, they do and they provide Marines a means of not only of getting ashore, but of having armor protection once ashore. Not M-1 tank armor, but armor. Armor that can float, then fight ashore. It's a compromise. Sound familiar? Like Humvees aren't tanks? Well, neither are AAVP7A1s. They're damn good vehicles (if a bit scary to landlubbers) and they do the job that they were designed to do.

That 14 Marines were killed aboard an AAVP7A1 is a tragedy. I hate it. But uninformed news people make it even worse with their articles. They write of military failings—it was the military's fault that the Marines were in such an incapable vehicle, etc.

Hell, if the military had their way we'd be driving something that would fly across the Pacific, land and disgorge 300,000 Marines and fire eight-inch shells over their heads for support.

If you can develop such a machine and produce it in either Massachusetts or West Virginia, let me know. I'll invest.

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