Other Names: Defence scandal
Nature: For every dollar diverted by fraud in the military-industrial relationship, there are hundreds wasted by political patronage and micro-management, military frequent changes in design specifications, intransigence and inefficiency, contractor mismanagement, product substitution, kickbacks, falsified records, bid rigging and cost padding, and pure bureaucratic bungling by military commands. When weapons are purchased, not enough attention is paid to how they measure up to operational test results and actual operating experience. Testing procedures are generally designed to reflect favourably on the equipment being tested. Results are often written up so that faults are covered up. Within the military, promotions of programme directors are often based on successful procurement of weapons even if they are faulty.
Incidence: There is substantial evidence that the Contras have helped finance their war by large-scale drug-trafficking to the USA with the co-operation of the CIA. In an attempt to build an new generation of attack submarines the US Navy approved a flawed designed which could neither meet the speed requirement expected of it nor dive to required depths. The contractor bid $1.2 billion to build 18 of the submarines but, after a series of production and management foul-ups, ended up submitting bills to the military for double that amount. The company claimed that the cost overruns were the fault of 35,000 design changes made by the Navy. The Navy argued that the changes were no larger than in previous programmes. When the company threaten to stop production an agreement was reached to save the company.
Claim: Faulty weapons are but a symptom, not a disease. The whole military system is sick. It provides weapons that are designed for ideal, simple conditions when war is chaotic, stressful, confusing and full of surprises and ambiguities. The people who operate these systems are undertrained and what training they get is unrealistic. The people in the armed forces are given ineffective weapons, the taxpayers who pay for defence systems are cheated and the nations are left without a real defence.
Problem Type: D: Detailed problems
Date of last update 23.02.1997 – 00:00 CET