- Politics and Social Issues
U.S. Military Might
After WW2, a war that cost the lives of around 100 million people and caused the decimation of the major cities in Europe, China, and Southeast Asia, the U.S. realized that it had to play a proactive role to prevent the occurrence of WW3. To accomplish this monumental task, the U.S. knew that the establishment of the United Nations, the use of economic sanctions, and financial assistance would not be enough to stop nation’s territorial disputes, ideology intolerance, and competition for natural resources from escalating into wars. The only effective and proven measure to convince the offending parties that diplomacy and negotiation are the best solutions or be ready to face overwhelming military intervention. The U.S. with its vast natural and intellectual resources and with its people living in a democratic and free society is in a unique position to develop the world’s most powerful military forces and at the same time, to utilize this power wisely.
The War machine
After U.S. entered the war in late 1941, it began to supply almost all the weapons used to fight the German in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. Those weapons included close to half a million aircraft of various size and shape, millions of jeeps, tanks, and personnel transports, tens of thousands of ships big and small, and the first WMD, the atomic bomb. Those weapons were designed and built by the ingenuity of the private industries. After the war, the mass production was stopped and the efforts were mainly in research and development of new and better weapons under the advisement of the government who was their one and only direct customer. This unique partnership has continued to the present day, successfully, to equip the U.S. military with the most powerful and state of the art weaponries on land and sea, in air and space. To achieve this peerless military might requires huge yearly defense budget that reaches to around $700 billions in 2014, a stiff learning curve, and infrastructures that can only be accomplished in small steps with time-consuming efforts, and technical expertise in science and engineering.
Unlike the commercial product whose customer is the general public, whose design and manufacturing cost can be recovered and even turned a profit when the production quantity reaches a certain level, the military product’s customer is the government and its design and limited production quantity have to satisfy the government’s requirements. These constraints make the cost of the product extremely high but all paid for by the tax payers’ money. Only a handful of the well-established defense companies have the resources to compete to work on the weapon contracts that are mostly fixed cost with a thin profit margin. During peaceful time, the government needs to hand out research and development projects to keep those private companies in business.
Most commercial products have a short market life of around 6 months to a year. The popular ones will be replaced with newer and better versions. The strategy is to beat the competitors to the market and the initial investment is directed more toward product advertisement and distribution. Only when a reasonable market share is attained, more investment will be put into manufacturing and research. The military products are designed and built to last 15 to 20 years. Reliability, quality, and durability are the utmost important objectives. All products have to go through tests to ensure that each product will function under harsh environment, over extreme temperatures, and operator abuse and be foolproof. These tests sometimes last more than a year. For a sophisticated product like the aircraft, tank, or ship, the time it takes from design to deployment can consume more than 10 years. The defense contractors need to have all the necessary test facilities in place, test procedures in writings, and the test requirements properly documented before they are awarded the job.
The defense company employs workers with diverse areas of skills and experiences:
1) Scientist – who will do research in new technologies that will improve the efficiency, accuracy, and destructive force of the weapons,
2) Design engineer – who will implement the new technologies with designs that use available materials and achievable technological know-how,
3) Quality engineer – who will check and verify that all workmanships are performed according to the requirements and a set of approved standards,
4) Reliability engineer – who will analyze the product’s design, materials used, and construction to derive at a failure rate for the product’s projected life expectancy,
5) Test engineer – who will perform and document the product’s tests according to the procedures and requirements,
6) Assembly worker – who will put the product together according to blue prints, schematics, or written instructions using approved tools, exact and required procedures in a static and contamination – free station,
7) Manager – who will make that the contract is implemented with the right personnel, completed on time and within budget, etc.
The New World order
The U.S. relied on its experiences in fighting the WW2, never stops to build and improve on its war machine. While the rest of the world strived to recover from the ravages of the war, the U.S. was laying the foundation to possess the most powerful military force on Earth. It accomplished this mission by:
1) Having an incessant supply of the qualified professionals recruited from the nation’s educational system that emphasize creative thinking and team work,
2) Investing in research and new product developments,
3) Painstakingly documenting in details the guidelines as to how the product shall be designed, tested, and built.
The result is that, during the past 70 years, the U.S. had been consistently turning out military weapons and supporting equipment that were not only reliable and durable but also with ever-increasing accuracy, efficiency, and destructive power. During this time, the U.S. had not hesitated to flex its superior military muscles to stop aggression that it thought would threaten world peace and sometimes, impose its wills and values to the rest of the world.