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Pentagon Wars, The
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But this film is the blackest of comedies. And the very scenes that were the most hilarious were also those that engendered outrage in me, gradually at first, and then with a rushing forward.
It is the true story of the latter stages of development of the Bradley armoured vehicle which was featured in the Gulf War, and the Air Force officer, James Burton, whose task, by Congressional edict, was to sign off on the final testing of the vehicle. Without his approval the Bradley could not go into production.
The film is based on his book.
What he discovered was that the Bradley's design had evolved from a fast troop transport to a mish-mash of everything, making it unsuitable for each of its now numerous and contradictory roles.
Worse, however, was that the vehicle was an obvious death trap. If the paper-thin armour didn't get you, then the poisonous fumes would. And if they didn't do it, then the exploding of the vehicle's gas tank would finish off the job.
The army would not test the vehicle, except for those that they rigged--knowing full well what the results would be. Israel bought some, but seeing right off the bat that the vehicle as designed was a death trap, insisted on modifications.
So, there were two production lines: one for the Israeli version and one for the death trap US version: produced by its own country with the knowing enthusiasm and approval of military brass.
Contractor production of sub-standard military equipment is a very old story. Nothing new here.Read more ›
This film is not portrayed as a documentary Still, it purports to reflect in a semi-accurate manner the convulsions that attended the development of the Bradley fighting vehicle. Based on news reports, it contains more than a bit of truth, even if there is some dramatic license being employed.
The conflict in this film is between a conscientious officer who wants to do real testing and a pentagon general who wants to make contractors and politicians happy. It is a sad state of affairs.
The development of the Bradley had a long history before it ever reached deployment. It was plagued by cost overruns, changing specifications and failed tests. It even went through a phase where it was supposed to be aquatic. In the end, a troop carrier for 11 troops became a scout vehicle that was too prominent to do scout work, had a turret like a tank so it would attract extra fire, had aluminum armor so it would not be too heavy (or stop shells) and would only carry 6 people. The reasons for all of these travesties can be found in pork barrel politics.
This is a comedy and it is funny in its irony. That does not stop it from also being a tragedy.
Col. James Burton (Cary Elwes) is a by-the-books Air Force officer who is given the job of making sure the Bradley is effective and ready for use. He quickly learns that the vehicle is a Frankenstein's monster, designed by committee and unable to do any of the tasks it was meant for, but which is being built anyway. In his attempts to adequately test the vehicle, Burton is up against Gen. Partridge (Kelsey Grammer), who is determined to get the Bradley into production no matter what. After all, it has been 17 years in design, with $14 billion already spent on it. Who cares whether it works or not? Burton does, actually, and is equally determined to make sure the Bradley actually works before he signs off on it, an attitude which does not earn him plaudits from Partridge. Running interference are Col. Bock and Maj. Sayers (John C. McGinley and Tom Wright), who sabotage every one of Burton's tests with darkly hilarious results.
(The buy-it-now-and-test-it-later culture is, unfortunately, alive and well in the Pentagon even today. No better illustration exists than the $50 billion -- pre-cost overruns -- National Missile Defense, now in production despite failing most tests and passing a few only under grossly rigged test conditions.)
"The Pentagon Wars" is a darkly gleeful look at the government weapons procurement culture. Pick it up if you get a chance.
Now, I may not be a self proclaimed "military analysis" like jtpaladin, but I did spend 5 years in a military test program. While the movie takes a comedic approach, it is remarkable close to how a test program works.
I saw this movie when it first came out and thought it was a hoot! The mix of charaters and the way the movie pokes fun at the simplest items (love the sheep specs) keeps it going from start to finish. Then I went to work on the test program, and everytime we had to make a change to the item, I thought of this movie. ROFLOL!!!
I only have one complaint about this movie:
WHERE IS THE DVD RELEASE?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Decent military comedy, along the same lines as 'Down Periscope'. Cary Elwes with a southern accent never gets old.Published 6 days ago by Elizabeth Gross
Kind of a fun watch as a satire. It is really skewed to the political views of its producers so it's best to take it with a grain of sand.Published 9 days ago by Robert S
This movie will not play on our playstation 3 or 4, which are the main consuls that we use to watch movies. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
Very good acting by Kelsey Grammer in a rather disturbing movie. I hope it was more fiction then true.Published 23 days ago by Gene