back to article Obama & Gates vs the US military-industrial complex

The US Defence Secretary has signalled a serious attempt on his part and that of President Obama to reform the world's largest military machine. If the two men get their way - and that's a big if - the Pentagon will become much less a capital-intensive tech porkbarrel and much more an organisation of properly-backed combat …


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  1. Dave Bell

    They haggle...

    The artillery is one of those areas of warfare where some sort of networking already pays off. I can see the good Senator's pet project being delayed, but unless the US Army wants to trust the flyboys to deliver ordnance, I don't see it vanishing.

    But if it really has to be there now, the Royal Artillery is still the one to beat.

  2. Peter McGinn

    That's OK as long as...

    ... they keep the Navy Rail Gun on track!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the other hand...

    I disagree with statement "disarming America"

    It is more or less a "de-aggressing America" in a way that meets present active and potentially active commitments.

    It was observed a while ago that no nation is going to go into direct conflict with USA as any final result is a foregone conclusion. Therefore wise-bods on the other side concluded that action needs to be low key shrouded with lack of easily identifiable features and using civilians as shields.

    The longer term investment thing will probably be revised in a year or two in any case as the repercussions of the new strategy are identified. Enemies or potential enemies will always form a hand in glove arrangement I think and so will go where things are the softest.

  4. E

    Let me be the first salute our newly pacific USA overlords!

  5. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Sounds dull but good

    OK Training more helicopter maintenance techs is a big yawn. Unless you happen to be waiting evac or rescue and its not coming because all the birds are in the shop.

    It sounds like a budget that ground troops might vote for.

    But there's a lot of hogs in those troughs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sanity? In *my* DOD?

    Say it isn't so!

    Amazingly enough, I'm already familiar with all the projects he's cutting, and I agree with every damn one of them except for the C-17s, even though I'll dearly miss the F-22s.

    One problem for the Air Force is they're obviously not going to fight the Russians, but they're mostly going to be doing ground support, which the USAF ***HATES*** even more than UAVs.

    Look at how much the F-16s are doing ground support and bombing (which they suck at) as opposed to actual MIGCAP in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  7. mittfh

    Obama and Gates

    Oh, THAT Gates. When I read the title I immediately thought of the OTHER Gates.

    Well, one of his company's slogans was "Windows everywhere" - anyone fancy scripting a disaster movie that starts off with the military installing Vista on all their mission-critical systems? :)

  8. Dan Paul

    This is why I voted for Obama!

    I see no reason to keep lining the pockets of the fat cats running defense companies when the world has far more effective weapons than we need. Granted, there may come a day when we need to defend ourselves against "Alien Invasion" where todays weapons may prove insuficcient.

    But honestly, how many ways to kill multitudes of people does the world need? The fact is that most defense companies (outside of Aerospace) employ far less people than Automobile manufacturers.

    Half of the things they are proposing are obsolete by the time they make it to market. One only has to think of the Bradley fighting vehicle and how piss poor it's real war performance is (Not at all resistant to IED's), not to mention the V22 Osprey (Crash-O-Matic), Huge Surface ships against cruise missles, the list is endless.

    Now one Senator is against shutting down a robotic howitzer program? Jeez, if I were a betting man I'd say they are manufactured in his district, the manufacturer was one of his largest campaign contributors (not anymore!) and tell the Justice department to "Follow the money" I'm sure you'll find an interesting contribution or dozen that implicates him in several illegal transactions.

    Killing people is easy, it takes a real "Mensch" to be an effective Diplomat. We need to spend some money in that department first, since it is a more cost effective solution.

    Just watch "Ironman" for an example of what defense contractors are all about.

  9. JP Strauss
    Black Helicopters

    @Dan Paul

    [Just watch "Ironman" for an example of what defense contractors are all about.]

    With such a firm grasp of reality, it is only natural that you would vote for Obama.

  10. John Smith Gold badge

    The classic word of caution is

    That the threat profile that this stuff was being developed for could re-appear.

    Russia (not the whole Soviet Union) could continue to be more outward looking. China is a superpower (could you imagine a US land invasion of them?)

    Perhaps the US has more to fear from the growth of competition in the arms, sorry defense, market. Not in a war of course but through lost business (ITAR does quite a good job of this but there's always room for handicapping US defense companies a bit more).


    On the C17 front you have to admire the Lockmart lobbying machine. Killing off a a much later, faster heavier lifting design.


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  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes a lot of sense

    So clearly they won't get away with it. Way, way too much money, influence etc etc in the defence sector for this ever to be a flyer. Most powerful man in the world? We'll see.

  13. goggyturk
    Thumb Down

    I'm disappointed

    I expected them to replace Air Force One with new build SR-71 Blackbirds.

    Now that would make Presidential visits more interesting

  14. Anonymous Coward

    A new defence strategy

    I once came up with a radical idea:

    Instead of spending billions, if not trillions, building new and slicker ways to kill people, why not simply keep it all in a big big big chest, and anytime anyone gets lairy at us bribe them off with a few billion??

    It would need careful handling to not get abused, but it HAS to be a fucking LOT cheaper than forever filling the pork barrels...?!!

  15. John Smith Gold badge

    @Frank Gerlach

    "ultrasilent U-Boots"

    You have self-propelled Wellingtons?

  16. BioTube

    How dare he!

    How else will we complete Plan 2100? For those not in the know, Plan 2100 has the following goals: one world, one nation, one tongue and no damn 'u' in the word 'honor'!

  17. Glen Turner

    F-22 future

    The F-22 cancellation has really upset Australia and Japan, the two countries likely to do combat against the latest Russian-built planes. The thought of losing air superiority to some Chinese proxy nation or to a mid-rank Asian power during some Pacific peace keeping operation isn't pretty.

    It would have been much more sensible for the US to offer F-22 sales to Japan and Australia, keeping those production lines running, and offering the US an alternative should the F-35 be a dud.

  18. Busted

    Shouldn't title be Military Industrial Complex Puppet Obama plays at change

    Youtube Obama Deception.....

    Maybe I'm wrong but to me same agenda different face.

  19. David Evans

    Re:A new defence strategy

    You think we don't pay people off not to attack us already? Its been a standard approach isn't the days of Danegeld (and before). Unfortunately, unless you can also back up the payoffs with a big stick, it usually doesn't work out too well.

  20. George

    And about time too.

    And that is coming from somebody whose house was bought on this kind of money (not the amount, unfortunately just the source).

    The fact that the government co-funds research into something it is going to pay top whack for anyway then something is amiss. Not many other industries work that way. And there needs to be much tougher penalties for late delivery, we have got to the point where it is actually expected to be late, what is the point of building an item of modern equipment if it will be surpassed by the time it is in the field?

    And people continuallygo on about F-22, possibly the worst procurement in modern history (although the Type45 isn't finished yet!), an overpriced piece of kit which has limited abilities and limited scope for use. Yes I understand that when there is a war on it would pay for itself maybe but in reality the rest of the world is building muilt-role aircraft.

  21. kain preacher


    simply keep it all in a big big big chest, and anytime anyone gets lairy at us bribe them off with a few billion??

    Ask Saudi Arabia how is that working out for them .

  22. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Intelligence Black Holes ......Deliver AIMarvellous XXXXPort Opportunities to Interesting Parties.

    "[Just watch "Ironman" for an example of what defense contractors are all about.]

    With such a firm grasp of reality, it is only natural that you would vote for Obama." .... By JP Strauss Posted Wednesday 8th April 2009 06:32 GMT


    Your dismissive and quite ignorant naivety is all that anyone needs for chaos to degenerate further into a controlled anarchy ..... which incidentally would not necessarily be going in the direction of the Establishment plan, for the powers that used to be are not equipped at all to deal with the New Change Paradigm, and there is all available evidence that Programs are always available to them to Assist in their Re-Education but they might be more interested in maintaining their snouts in the trough position in Failed Administrations rather than Launching into AI Future Missions.

    It is certainly such a case most definitely with the Labour Fiasco whose Perceptions Management skills with Media are as clumsy a blunt instrument assault in a high precision sensitive technology theatre of operations as one is likely to witness from a supposed civilised society/parliamentary democracy. It is a fact that they have been Offered before now, Advanced IntelAIgent/Alienating Technology which renders such as you can read about in a HyperRadioProActive comment }Posted by: amanfromMars | Apr 9, 2009 2:39:36 AM] here, ...... ..... which are somewhat of a parallel mirror of these words which accompany a tale on the Tomlinson assault ..."People normally opposed to cameras are, for the moment, looking to them to protect civil liberties and guard the little guy against the threat of state oppression.

    The story brings to mind Cory Doctorow's novel, Little Brother, which examines how smart, tech-savvy individuals can level the playing field against agents of the state by using their own understanding of digital tools to subvert and confront them." ..... also from Wired ...

    When one considers what has been, and which coincidentally is still always being Offered to Leading UK Forces [whoever you may consider them to be, given the pathetic and parlous State of Play in the Nation/their Bit Part in the Overall Global Script], to then read of this risible Whitehall Manadarin quango effort on El Reg .... .... is well, an accurate reflection of their pathetic grasp/lack of grip on the Reality of what they are dealing with in todays ZerodDay Environment, which does not Suffer the Fool for the Love of Money/Gravy/Honey.

    NOT FIT FOR FUTURE PURPOSE does not shout itself LOUD ENOUGH in their Ears but with Inadequate Intelligence to Process the Words Constructively would it be wasted Speech, methinks.

    Have the UK Outsourced Provision of their Intelligence Services to a Foreign Land and/or For Private Profit Practice? Are they Planning to Start Delivering Any, anytime soon?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you believe the conspiracy theories, things did not end well for the last president who challenged the US military industry.

  24. wim

    RE Glen Turner

    I thought that Japan was not allowed to buy the F22 from US.

    The reason was that the Japanese can not keep the technology secret or something like that.

    China will be better to just economically target a country into submission in stead of sending a couple of Mig's.

  25. Wesley Parish

    Nothing to see here, move along

    I can't see the point of the US maintaining the current state of overspend on the Pentagon and it's Pretty New Toys, unless it has some actual bearing on world security.

    Umm, anyone remember a little maritime trade route hassle off the Horn of Africa a few months ago, because the US was so obsessed with its GWOT (Gumbo War of Terror) - largely against the Muslim world - it forgot its much more important role of maintaining the security of the trade routes? One of the major reasons why China keeps propping up the US Dollar? When, given the US near-universally vote-winning rant on the "threat" that the PRC poses to the US, it would be much cheaper for the PRC to start putting conditions on its dollar-buying spending sprees. Or simply dump the US Dollar and demand repayment in yuan.

    As it stands, since most of that money goes into maintaining an obese military machine and its equally obese pork-barrellers in the US Congress and all 50 States, it hasn't affected the inefficiency of the US military machine at all.

    It won't have any effect on the safety of the international maritime trade routes; it won't effect the eventual collapse of the US superpower status; and may do nothing more than accelerate its reduction to third-world beggar banana republic owned by the PRC.

    Move along: nothing to see here.

  26. Seán

    Ha ha ha

    I hope the US keeps wasting money on bullshit weapons and cutting it's education. I might buy somewhere over there as a summer home and I'll need servants.

  27. John Smith Gold badge

    @Wesley Parish

    I may be mistaken but I think you'll find quite a lot of the piracy going on around the Horn of Africa and the ongoing hijacking of oil tankers is originating from states with a heavily Muslim population.

    You are aware that not all Muslims are of Middle Eastern origin?

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