- Hardcover: 204 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (May 12, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394518241
- ISBN-13: 978-0394518244
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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National Defense Hardcover – May 12, 1981
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Top Customer Reviews
Fallows' indictment of the Pentagon's weapons-procurement systems is persuasive and damning. His main theme is that money is wasted on high-tech, highly complex weapons systems like the M-1 Abrams tank and the F-15 Eagle fighter, when the same funds could buy much greater numbers of simpler, cheaper systems. His arguments seemed sound, and I was appropriately outraged at the senselessness of American defense spending. (Its wastefulness when better options were available, that is; I was quite the little hawk back then and was glad to see the nation rearming itself in the 1980's.)
But as the years rolled on, I noticed things that caused me to question whether Fallows was correct. For one thing: the Israeli Air Force, instead of spending its limited funds on large numbers of F-5's or the new F-20 Tigershark, instead spent the 1970's and 1980's buying not only the F-16, which Fallows favored, but also the large, complex F-15, which he opposed. Why? Surely, if there were ever a service which should seek the biggest bang for its buck, it was the IAF, which defended a nation facing continuous existential threats from Soviet-armed Arab nations. Why would they buy the F-15, not the F-20, if Fallows and the USAF's famed "fighter mafia" were right that smaller, simpler aircraft were better than large, complex ones?Read more ›
Although there may be a few inaccuracies (I did not notice anything substantial) what really matters about this book are two things: the author is a very serious critic with both Public Citizen and Atlantic Monthly credits, and the taxpayer's best interests in mind; and NOTHING HAS CHANGED since this book was published in 1981. If anything, it has gotten worse. One page (43) really jumped out at me, as it contains a chart showing how many planes can be bought for the same amount of money (1000 F-5s, 500 F-4s, 250 F-15s) and then now many sorties per day they can do because of complex logistics and other constraints (2.5/day for F-5's, 1.5 per day for F-4s, 1 per day for F-15s), finally concluding on the "real force" numbers: 2,500 for the F-5, 750 for the F-4, and 250 for the F-15.
As General Wes Clark noted in his book of lessons learned as NATO Commander during the Kosovo crisis ("Waging Modern War"), he found the new USAF airplanes so unresponsive that they needed a full 24 hours notice to shift from one pre-planned task to another.
The author is equally effective in criticizing the Navy for its obsession with carriers and other big ships; and the Army for complex helicopter systems that--as General Clark documents in his book--they are loath to actually use in combat because they might not work as advertised or might be blown out of the sky.
In this book, the author gets the "constants" right, and they are still with us.Read more ›
Let's start with the matter of the M-16. This is a story that's been told many times, and Fallows gets it mostly correct. But there's a lot missing from his telling. He credits Rep. Ichord with being the one man who set in motion the hearings that led to the revision of the M-16, but in point of fact, there are a number of men who were much more important. The first is then-Lt. Michael Chervenak, who bucked the chain of command, and sent the letters to several Congressmen and newspapers that really set everything in motion. Anoteher was Chervenak's CO, Richard Culver, a career officer who backed Chervenak up when the brass came gunning for him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a crystal ball written back in the early 80's and all the predictions came true. Contractors making Billion dollar weapon systems that spend more time in maintenance than... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Megaeak
Even though the book is several years old it explains exactly what is going on politically today. Could be used for academic studies.Published on April 29, 2013 by Jay Cox