The Reformers Movement
Questions of optimizing the ways of national military construction in the United States have always occupied an important place in the work of officials and independent military analysts. In recent decades, a certain informal community of “reformers” has even formed, that is, those who, concerned about the frequent disruptions of the American military machine, have embarked on a thorny path of searching for acceptable options for its reform.
A number of American experts point the “movement of reformers in the military sphere” to publish an article by Senator Gary Hart, arguing the urgent need for a reorganization of the Pentagon and published in the winter of 1981 of the year. Others, including the American authority on the theory and practice of military reform, Winslow Wheeler, believe that the “courageous” at that time analytical note by all analysts became the impetus for the joint work of independent experts, government officials and legislators on the issue of military transformation. the forgotten colonel of the Air Force, prepared by him in the spring of 1967 of the year. "Accidentally leaked to the light", it contained reasoned criticism of the Pentagon, Congress and the relevant business circles regarding the "exorbitant spending" on the construction of "super heavy, not sufficiently tested and just unnecessary Air Force aircraft."
It was this unusual note at that time, which became public and made a lot of noise, provoked enthusiasts who are “doing good things” to get out of the shadows and, without fear of consequences, begin an implacable fight against bureaucrats and corrupt officials from the military-industrial complex (MIC) , as well as "close" to him by military and government officials.
One of these devotees at the turn of 60 – 70-ies of the last century was Air Force Major John Boyd, who later became one of the informal leaders of the "reform movement." In those years, multibillion-dollar injections into the armed forces, which plunged deeper into the quagmire of the Vietnam War, had to have a certain courage, especially for a man in uniform, to openly, as Boyd did, tell the leadership that it was “wasting money”. His deed did not go unnoticed. Soon the civilian expert Pierre Spray, a well-known “Pentagon critic” in those years, contacted him. They became associates in the methodical work of imposing on the legislators and the military elite the principles of "correct" business in the military-industrial complex (MIC). It is noteworthy that, according to Wheeler, it was Boyud and Spray who are primarily obliged by the US Air Force and Navy to the fact that "the most successful aircraft since the Korean War - F-15, F-16, F / A- 18 and A-10. ”
Boyd was truly famous for a series of lectures on the optimization of various areas of military construction, including in the field of military technology, in particular, control, communications, intelligence, and more generally, issues of strategy, methods and methods of modern combat. Paradoxically, he did not reduce his views into a single analytical work, but only prepared numerous lectures, articles and essays that his followers collected and published after the death of the “reformer”. Congressmen Newt Gingrich and Richard Cheney, who played not the last roles in the American military-political establishment in those years, spent many hours in conversations with Boyd and Spray, drawing fresh "reformist" ideas from their intellectual baggage.
Boyd, who received such authoritative support, turned out to be difficult to “dump” even to his “numerous” enemies who appeared “suddenly” from the top military-industrial complex. In the rank of Air Force Colonel in 1973, he was, not without protection, transferred to the Pentagon, where in his subordination was dismissed from the Air Force "for obstinacy" in the rank of captain, and now a simple civilian official, another extraordinary thinker - Franklin Spinnie, with whom they quickly found points of contact. Spin, with the support of Spray and Boyd, at the turn of 70 – 80-s of the last century, published his well-known analytical work “The Defense Facts of Life”, and in 1983 and its continuation, the brief content of which is reasonably brief.
First of all, the nuances of the poor quality of the military department’s acquisition of weapons and military equipment (IWT) were “open” to a wide range of interested parties: the impractical complexity of the systems being developed, the unrealistic budget planning of IWT supplies, the lack of evaluation of their cost, the unjustified, outpacing budget increases in value. weapons, etc.
Particularly outrageous, according to Spinney, was the fact of the decision-making process about acquisitions and adjustment of programs hidden from control, through an unjustified revision of the budget in the direction of additional allocations. He also considered the practice of political pressure to include a mass of subcontractors “in the number of congressional electoral districts” completely unacceptable. Due to the fact, continued Spinny, that the real price of this or that system weapons It became known only after the onset of the production phase, inevitably there was a need for new dollar infusions. A vicious circle was obtained: a greater amount of money only aggravated the situation, accelerating the rise in prices and ultimately lowering the aircraft’s combat readiness. All this was overlaid with the problem of confusion as funds flowed from the previous budget, focused on a single system cost, to a new one, formed on the basis of the hardly predictable “price hike”. The result is an artificial “underfunding” and ... new allocations.
According to Spinney, the system of early testing of weapons and military equipment was significantly affected. In many cases, artificially low requirements to them led to the fact that the Pentagon was offered no alternative weapons at inflated prices, in practice it turned out to be worse than its predecessor. As an example, he cited the F-111 fighter-bomber — so unfortunate that it was taken out of service after several years of operation in the military.
In this regard, the author urged the "buyers" of weapons in the Pentagon to understand the trivial truth: there is a significant difference between "high technology" in civil and military understanding. In the first case, as a result of the introduction of new technologies, products become simpler in execution and cheaper. Example - color TVs, respectively, 50-x and 80-s of the last century. In the second case, the equipment is usually more complex and expensive and is not always better than its predecessor.
UNMASKED COUNTERACTION AND SUPPORT
The Defense Facts of Life study attracted the attention of Senator Sam Nunn, who appealed to Secretary of Defense Harold Brown to allow Spinney to speak to senators outlining his vision of how to solve defense problems. After some hesitation, the minister agreed. Speech Spinney was a success, he was offered to prepare an analytical note summarizing the essence of the research, which, however, turned out to be unclaimed both from the legislative and the executive authorities.
A continuation of the study, published a few years later, was also greeted "in hostility" at the highest levels of government in Washington. The author was blamed for saying, to put it mildly, “exaggerating” the severity of the problems. But this time, the study aroused interest, in particular, one of the influential senators Charles Grassley, who decided to go to the Pentagon, to hear Spinney personally. But the meeting did not take place, because the head of Spinney simply did not give permission for the contact. The outraged Senator demanded public hearings on the issues raised by Spinney in the Senate Budget Committee, of which Grassley was a member. However, the famous “Pentagon friend” Senator John Tauer, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Armed Forces, set off on various, consistently “thrown in” tricks to prevent Spinney from speaking: he demanded that he receive official permission from his committee; offered to hold a hearing on Friday afternoon in the hope that the press would ignore the event; Achieved a selection for listening to a small audience, so that there is no room for television equipment; insisted on a joint meeting of both committees of the Senate. But it turned out, what is called, the opposite effect. Thanks to Grassy’s organized screening of information on unseemly “maneuvers” of the Tower by the staff and his staff, Spinney's attention was drawn to the public’s attention, and the topic of abuses at the Pentagon generally appeared on the front pages of the press.
Earlier, one more future member of the “reform movement” Air Force Finance Specialist Ernest Fitzgerald, on the threshold of 60 – 70-s, prepared on the instructions of the Congress a report on the financing of the military transport program, entered the arena of struggle against military abuse. aircraft C-5A and proved obvious overruns allocated to the project. The administration of President Nixon, for whom C-5A was a trump card in implementing its strategy of rapidly building up the grouping of the US Armed Forces in Europe in case of emergency, took Fitzgerald's work as a stab in the back. As a result, he was rather rudely dismissed, but after several months of litigation, he was reinstated. Such an appeal only stimulated Fitzgerald to new revelations. He was the author of the autopsy of numerous overpayments in the Pentagon for ordered, it would seem, ordinary things from industry: toilet seats for more than 0,5 thousand dollars per unit (for the Air Force), coffee makers for 7,5 thousand dollars (for the Navy) and His numerous exposing publications, which were then collected in a separate collection, enjoyed great success in the philistine environment, but caused resentment in the higher military and industrial circles. Before his final dismissal, which followed in 1985, Fitzgerald was able to make a definite contribution to the common cause of the “reformer” enthusiasts and to force the authorities to take real measures to optimize the functioning of the country's military machine.
At the turn of the 70s and 80s, another “reformer” —civic officer Charlie Murphy, who then worked in Congressman Jack Edwards’s office — became famous for his revelations. He was interested in the “lack of proper order” in the supply system of arms and military equipment, in particular, information that in some parts of the air force specialists are faced with the problem of poor-quality engines for the then-modern and very worthy development - F-15 aircraft. To an official request, the Air Force leadership replied that "no problems with the F100 engines for the F-15 were noted." Having received the recommendation of his boss, Murphy visited several airbases, where well-wishers advised him to contact a team of “reformers” from the Pentagon's Office for Program Analysis and Evaluation and personally with Boyd, Spinney and Spray, who had already received “scandalous fame” by that time, but had continued work in the military department. After consulting with them and advising them in order to avoid further accusations of “incompetence” and “exaggerating the problems” to get to the bottom of the matter, Murphy plunged into thorough research. As a result, he found out that the engines are failing due to worn parts that are not replaced on time due to a shortage of spare parts. Along the way, he discovered the same problem with aircraft carrier aircraft aviation.
Initiated by Congressman Edwards, the hearings of the investigation of Murphy undermined the reputation of Democratic President Carter and his team in the election year (1980) as “incompetent in military affairs” and last but not least ensured their defeat to Republican Reagan, who promised to “solve the problem with spare parts once and for all for weapons and military equipment ".
A powerful "push" in promoting the ideas of reorganizing the country's military machine as a whole was the joining in 1979 to the informal group of "reformers" James Follow, an influential political analyst and former speechwriter to President Carter. In the wake of the Pentagon’s criticism of the magazine Atlantic Monthly, he was ordered an article about abuses in the military-industrial complex. Naturally, he could not pass by Boyd, whose recommendations helped to make sensational material about why, despite the phenomenal defense spending, the United States in recent decades has been constantly losing on the battlefield. But a more significant contribution to the struggle of the "reformers" with the Pentagon was the Fallows book entitled "National Defense", which withstood several editions of a very large circulation and brought the "reform movement" to the national policy scene.
An important role in the discussion of this problem was played by sharp publications in the media, both for the authorship of independent enthusiasts, “reformers,” and those that came out from the pen of the journalists themselves. Among the latter in the most critical post-Vietnamese period stories Dina Rayzor stood out in the country, starting her “exposing” activities at the turn of 70 – 80, being a correspondent for electronic media. In search of "hot" material, she accidentally ran into problems associated with the construction of the C-5A aircraft, and came to the same conclusions as Fitzgerald, mentioned earlier: the overruns of funds allocated to the project. Fitzgerald was naturally delighted with the “unexpected” confirmation of his conclusion and offered Reizor his services, in particular, linking her to the Boyd – Spray – Spinnie group, who immediately arranged for her support from Senator Grassley and Rep. Barbara Boxer.
Razor proposed a new theme: “take control” of the program to create a new tank M1 "Abrams". After the investigation, her article was posted in Reason magazine, which emphasized that the tank did not pass serious tests, and the results of the “sparing” testing were not only not analyzed by specialists, but they were not even known about them in the Pentagon’s corresponding structures. Naturally, the US ground forces immediately denied this information. But Senator David Pryor drew attention to the article, who, “by coincidence,” was just involved in developing a bill to reorganize the testing system ordered by the Pentagon. The Senator’s consultations with Razor and her Boyd & Co backers helped a lot in preparing a quality bill that later became law, which Wheeler aptly pointed out, “The military-industrial complex simply hated.”
SOCIETY INTERCEPTS INITIATIVE
Gradually, the number of critical speeches regarding the “disorder” in the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex developed into a “critical mass”, which was about to explode with the most unpredictable consequences. This was understood by the most far-sighted representatives of the legislature. Therefore, in January 1981, Senator Gary Hart published a program article in the Wall Street Journal called The Case of Military Reform, in which he not only revealed the perversity of many traditional Pentagon management methods from the impasse in which the development of the US military has come. The article made a strong impression on the American public, but became just another stage in strengthening the position of the "reformers" in their struggle for "restoring order" in the US military organization. But she, at last, touched on the living of those legislators who understood that the time for “progress” had come.
Congressman William Whitehurst promptly contacted Hart and agreed with him about the need to unite members of Congress who are interested in a radical transformation of the country's military organization into an informal group, which later became known as the “Closed Society of the Congress on Military Reform”, or simply the Society (looking ahead , we emphasize that in various years, members of the Society were registered up to 150 members of Congress from both chambers). It was agreed that its informal co-chairs would be representatives from both chambers of Congress - from the Senate (Hart) and from the House of Representatives (Whitehurst). After a lengthy preparatory event in mid-May 1981, the first meeting of this kind of body was held, at which, among other influential lawmakers, three “heavyweights” attended and took an active part: Sam Nunn (the main authority among lawmakers on defense issues), Bill Cohen (minister Defense in 1996 year) and John Warner (Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Armed Forces in 1999 year). As expected, the first meeting was muddled, immediately affecting a lot of problems in the disorder - from the construction of "not those" ships for the Navy, "absolutely inefficient fighters" for the Air Force to "inadequate requirements of modern times" ground forces. And at the same time the thesis that "each of the types of the Armed Forces is preparing for its own war" was received, which later received a wide-ranging sound.
After streamlining the work, a question arose about the purpose of the work of the informal organization. Following a brief debate, it was decided to push the country's leadership for a “military reform”. From that moment on, this term was firmly entrenched in the pages of the press, and members of the Society stepped up their activities in order to seize the initiative (and “fame”) from “reformers” - enthusiasts.
The first step was to hold a presentation of the Company's program for both chambers of Congress. At the presentation event, the speakers highlighted three global tasks that required immediate solutions: improving the morale in the military after several years of “decomposition” as a result of defeat in Vietnam, including through a significant increase in the level of state care for those discharged from military service; conducting focused research in the field of strategy and tactics in relation to future wars, “not to repeat the transformation of the struggle on the battlefield into painful bloodshed”, and, finally, a cardinal revision of the requirements for weapons and military equipment orders for a sharp increase in their quality.
The first two years of the Society’s work were marked by a high activity of its core, numbering 10 – 12 people. Co-Chairs Hart and Whitehurst constantly took the initiative to “stir up” the legislators. They were very actively supported by the authoritative Newt Gingrich among the legislators. But gradually the enthusiasm "evaporated" even from many of its founders. Under these conditions, Hart, on the recommendation of his chief assistant, decided to transfer the functions of the co-chair from the Senate to another candidate. The choice fell on Nancy L. Cassebaum, who had already attracted the attention of the “reformers” by the fact that during the discussion of the next budget she came up with a number of interesting proposals. Despite the fact that she was not a member of the Society, she was interested in the proposal to become a co-chair. Kassebaum became the co-chair of the Senate and actively engaged in the work. In the same period, another “reform star” emerged - its closest aide, Winslow Wheeler, who has been the recognized leader of the informal “reform movement for positive changes in the US military organization” to this day.
In the spring of 1983, the contradictions between the legislators around Pryor's Law, which introduced new, very tough rules for assessing weapons and military equipment samples offered to the military department, became more acute in Congress. The provisions of the law did not suit both representatives of the military industrial complex and certain influential officials from the executive and legislative branches associated with it. Special zeal was shown by the Deputy Minister of Defense Richard DeLower and Senators John Tower and Robert Dole, who, under the guise of "some improvements," simply tried to "emasculate" the very essence of this law. The surprise for the “reformers” was that James Carter, who replaced Whitehurst in the 1982 year as co-chairman of the Society from the House of Representatives, showed the further course of events, although he publicly advocated the law, actually helping his opponents to “soften” his most sensitive positions. Then he proposed his own version of the law altogether, which suggested that he should be submitted to a hearing in the conciliation commission of the Congress. It was here that the “reformers” showed themselves: through joint efforts, with the involvement of the press, they inclined Sam Nunn, who was followed by the majority of legislators. The law came into force in the 1984 fiscal year, becoming a tangible victory for the "reformers."
Thanks to the press reviews and the positive comments of the initiatives put forward by the “reformers” - legislators, membership in the Society has become prestigious. However, much to the indignation of independent "reformers", the "work" of senators and congressmen was often limited to formal membership in this organization. A vivid example could be the “activity” (or rather inactivity) of Senator William Cohen, later becoming Minister of Defense, who publicly declared his desire to become a member of the Society, but after joining it almost never attended the meetings and constantly opposed the initiatives of the “reformers” .
Success with the "pushing through" of the Pryor Act turned some of the "reformers." But it was clearly premature. Soon, an influential Pentagon apparatchik, a former member of the team of Lyndon Johnson "Doc" Cook, known in the military under the nickname "Mayor of the Pentagon", prepared the instructions for circumventing the "inconvenient" provisions of the law, not without the help of lobbyists from the military-industrial complex. Upon learning of this in time, Senators Pryor, Kassebaum and Roth appealed to Secretary of Defense Weinberger with a demand to annul the instruction and to obey the law unquestioningly.
When the question arose of finding a suitable candidate for the post of official responsible for controlling the testing of weapons and military equipment at the Pentagon, Senator Kassebaum, on the recommendation of Wheeler, suggested Air Force Colonel James Burton, a principled and knowledgeable officer who helped prepare the Pryor bill. Barton became famous for having personally intervened in the process of testing a new BMP "Bradley", blocked further progress in the production of its "non-rolled" model. Later, when, in 1991, the US ground forces deployed in the Persian Gulf zone in preparation for the Desert Storm operation, the coalition commander, General Schwarzkopf, familiar with the Bradley problem, ordered to send back the entire first BMP modification to the US and replace them on those recommended by barton.
The Office of the Minister of Defense did everything possible and impossible to not only miss Burton’s candidacy for the “sensitive” post for the military-industrial complex, and then completely forced the colonel to resign from the Armed Forces. Senator Kassebaum was powerless to do anything, and the post of the head of testing and testing of new weapons and military equipment was taken by a representative of McDonnell Douglas. The appointment by this representative of the military industrial complex of acting officers from types of aircraft to the main controllers of tests of weapons sponsored by the same types of aircraft immediately affected the quality of the tests.
A period of stagnation has begun. A number of congressmen from among the "reformers" still tried to propose bills to improve the situation with the acquisition of weapons and military equipment, but they never became laws. Society lost one battle after another. And in the meantime, as Wheeler, reluctantly, those top Pentagon officials who were responsible for acquiring supposedly high-quality weapons from corporations, after being fired, continued to quietly move to not the lowest positions in those very corporations.
Of course, one cannot say that the “reformers” case has completely died down. They continued to write exposing articles, such as, for example, doing it almost continuously at the turn of 80 – 90-ies Spinney, who turned into a reputable expert on abusive affairs at the Pentagon. However, the same topics, supported by the same figures, already seemed to become boring, became of little interest to the reader, and gradually migrated to the last pages of publications. But the main negative was that the connection between independent “reformers” and “reformers” - legislators was lost. This was clearly realized by officials from the military-industrial complex, who began to openly ignore or even criticize Spinney. Moreover, opponents of the "reformers" tried to seize the initiative by launching a campaign in the media to discredit them. Thus, a separate “column” signed by Fred Reed appeared in the Washington Times, which in the autumn of 1987, from number to number, tried to convince readers of the incompetence and technical illiteracy of the “reformers”.
Sensing a threat to the cause to which they had devoted years of their lives, John Boyd and Pierre Spray approached members of the Society of Congressmen Charles Bennett and Tom Ridge in an attempt to activate the "reformers" from the legislators and protect them from the attacks of their opponents. Congressmen showed no special interest and said that "do not pay attention to petty assaults of ill-wishers." By that time, the co-chairman of the Society on the part of the House of Representatives, Barbara Boxer, tried to soften the situation, but then the “victorious” Gulf War broke out, which gave a chance to the “hurray-patriots” to declare that they were right and the “delusions of the reformers.” The link between the "reformers" - enthusiasts and legislators was broken. Barbara Boxer had no choice but to declare that the "Closed Society of the Congress on Military Reform," having completed its mission, ceases its activities. "
In conclusion, it should be noted that, from Wheeler’s point of view, the work of the Society as a whole could be more productive. The corruption ties of some members of the Congress from both chambers that were part of this organization with influential corporations of the military-industrial complex played a significant role in this. The principle of “sticking to power” has also not been canceled by anyone. The desire to be elected to Congress once again forced its members to dodge in order to please the voter. The easiest way to do this was through public “struggle” for the rights of “their own” population, including the preservation of jobs, even at the cost of continuing the production of poor-quality and useless weapons in their constituency. One should not underestimate the factor of dependence of the same legislators on many years of a kind of “club traditions”, characteristic of secret societies, but also acceptable to Congress, where its members are bound by certain obligations of “corporatism” that cannot be violated.
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