$10 billion wasted on military projects

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Government marches on! In the past decade the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency has wasted $10 billion on defense projects that were either impractical and impossible.

I can’t provide any single quote about the absurd stupidity of these projects because the article is filled with so many. Read it all and weep. However, here is one quote which indicates who we should blame:

President George W. Bush, in 2002, ordered an urgent effort to field a homeland missile defense system within two years. In their rush to make that deadline, Missile Defense Agency officials latched onto exotic, unproven concepts without doing a rigorous analysis of their cost and feasibility. Members of Congress whose states and districts benefited from the spending tenaciously defended the programs, even after their deficiencies became evident.

You are probably thinking the fault lies with Bush and Congress for proposing foolish programs and then funding them even after they were revealed to be obviously foolish, because they provided pork for congressional districts. You are wrong. Though Congress and Bush certainly share the guilt, the really guilty party is the American public, which has been voting in favor of pork for decades.

We get the government we deserve. Until we stop electing candidates (from either party) who promise pork, we will continue to get pork, and waste, and a society that is steadily going bankrupt.


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  • wodun

    Hmmm, I don’t know about this one. These programs cost in the low hundreds of millions a year and they were intended to allow us not to go to war with Iran, Russia, North Korea, or Iran. I never understood why the people who don’t want war also don’t want to use defenses like this to help prevent one.

    Because these programs are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, it isn’t surprising that they could fall a little flat. They may get shelved but as technology improves, they will be back. Just look at the Iron Dome and Israel’s layered defense. People thought that was impossible like a year ago.

    Also, the ABL isn’t a total waste. We will be arming some of our Navy with lasers.

  • pzatchok

    Actually the lasers the US Navy will be using solid state lasers powered by their nuclear reactors.
    The navy spent far less developing their solid state system even though they were told many times to drop it. They also went with linear magnetic launch systems instead of the old steam catapult system. Far more tunable, powerful and reliable. They were told to drop that idea also.

    Not the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Lasers (COIL) that were tested for the aircraft. Which only had about 30 “shots” on each aircraft.
    The air craft system also required that the planes be in the air ALL the time or be useless. And this made then traceable and thus targets.

    They actually got better results by adding a first stage to the Patriot missile and just using that proven radar and tracking system. Smaller package, land and sea based, always active, better range, and far far cheaper.

  • PeterF

    Star Wars! I thought they killed that ridiculous program way back when that drunken sot Reagan proposed it! Everybody knows you can never shoot down a missile in flight! What are they trying to do start another arms race?
    Seriously, todays “cheapest” system may be “good enough” (today) If we do not push the limit of current technology we will be bypassed. Every military weapon or defense eventually is neutralized by future technology.
    The old saying goes “No matter how good your security is, someone is staying up nights trying to figure a way around it” Thats why you don’t see bank safes with key locks anymore.
    But uncontrolled spending is not advisable either. If Hitler hadn’t spent an incredible amount of resources on V2 rockets the Nazis may have won WWII. But then the world would not have benefitted from the technology in our lifetimes.

  • PeterF

    Oh, by the way, just because they SAY it doesn’t work for what they SAY it was supposed to do doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It may work perfectly well for what it was originally designed to do and they don’t want people to know or it may work very well for something it wasn’t intended.
    Anyway this system kind of seems analogous to the tracker RADAR on the old BMEWS system. A fabulous piece of machinery that has since been replaced by the far more versatile PAVE PAWS. And the Pave Paws uses only a fraction of its capability. although that capability has been improved somewhat by increased computational capability once they upgraded from the (water cooled) Cyber100 computer (less memory than a commodore 64 but boy could it crunch numbers!)
    Pave Paws could track all the satellites, all the aircraft, and all the birds in its line of site given sufficient computational capability.
    Imagine a nationwide network of phased array radars tracking all the migratory flocks of birds and identifying individuals within the flock with a transponder chip attached to a leg band.
    you probably could also use that system to detect, identify, and track hostile aircraft or missiles with its excess capability…

  • Joseph

    All these billions down the drain and nothing to show for it. We need to stop putting these dummies in office. I don’t want to hear well we might be able to use some part of it in 15 or 20 years

  • Joseph

    It was not the v2 it was that he did not want to invest his money in long rangr bombers. The v2 was good ask England.

  • Edward

    The V2 was not very helpful to Hitler. Its purpose was retaliation for bombed cities, but Hitler needed to protect his factories and resources, not take revenge for destroyed cities (“V” stood for “vengeance”).

    His problem was that bombers were degrading his ability to wage war and defend his homeland. The V2s did not degrade the ability to send the bombers; Hitler needed more fighters and other anti-aircraft hardware. He needed air superiority — or at least viable air cover — over the English Channel on D-Day at Normandy.

    The V2s did well at terrifying the civilian population, but WWII was not won through terror, despite efforts by both sides.

    The lesson to learn: spend your limited resources wisely, on what will help you win. You will lose, otherwise.

  • Kelly Starks

    A billion a year? Is that all?!! A bunch of cutting edge research projects fail and your screaming waste? Your supposed to trying exotic things once in a while, and you damn well should research thinks your not completely certain will work!

    Last time I had the nerve to check the department of Agriculture spent tens of billions a year buying and destroying food, or paying farmers not to grow it, all to keep the prices up. That’s gov waste. Dropping nearly $10b a year on green energy studies/plants is gov waste. This mil project we should be encouraging.

  • Kelly, you are back! I hope this is because the job situation has improved. Though I almost always disagreed with you, I missed your plaintive perspective.

  • Kelly Starks

    Yes, after 4 months (the cash flow tide was getting ugly) new job out in Phoenix, and after about 2 months I’ve gotten far enough ahead to take some breaks (and tinker with a book, but that’s just killing my carpal. ;) )

    >..Though I almost always disagreed with you. ..

    Hey at least you can take it (or ignore it completely ;) ) last time I called into Dave’s show suggesting folks might be curious about my experiences at a old space firm no Orion vrs NewSpace on DreamChaser doing about the same job, I practically had Dave in tears.


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