The Military-industrial complex
But the MIC also has horrible negative effects on the military itself. This MSNBC story (via Taylor Marsh) illustrates this. It seems as though the army would rather have Raytheon develop an anti-RPG vehicle defense system from scratch than purchase one already available from an Israeli company. The development would take a minimum of five years, the Israeli "Trophy" system is apparently available now. I don't have the expertise to judge the pros and cons of the Trophy system, but whatever its drawbacks it seems it would be more effective than no system. Unlike liquids on planes, RPGs are a proven threat and a favorite weapon of inurgents everywhere, not just Iraq (War Nerd gave it his "Claymore Special Lifetime Award" in 2003). Is it simply not cost effective to outfit our vehicles with these devices? Would the Raytheon system be cheaper? Or are our troops just getting the shaft because of some corrupt procurement practice?
Warmongering is sick, evil and wrong. But those in power aren't even real warmongers: a real warmonger would want our fighting vehicles to be as powerful as possible. These guys are war profit mongers. I'd hate to be a soldier under this administration.
And this is not the first time I've heard such a story. Whether it's a new weapons system that the military doesn't particularly want but which happens to be manufactured in an influential congressperson's district, or some new body armor that might be better but the Army doesn't want the troops using it for goodness knows what reason, it seems that the safety of our troops and the effectiveness of our fighting forces isn't exactly priority #1 with the people who make the decisions. (Whatever happened with that Dragon Skin body armor controversy, by the way?)
We need to reform the way these decisions are made, because it's affecting our military competitiveness. I bet Iraqi insurgents aren't turning down useful hardware because of some bureaucratic turf war.
Of course, this post doesn't even begin to address the issue of when we should be using our military, and when we shouldn't be. These hardware questions are miniscule compared to that.