Rooney: Too Many Weapons? (with video)
Andy Rooney thinks we have too many weapons in the US military. Or that we spend too much money on them. Or he’s mad that we don’t use them more often. Or something.
Near the top he says
We have enough nuclear weapons to wipe out civilization. No one should have any, but I’m enough of an American to be glad we do.
This seems reasonable enough to me. But it’s genuinely bizarre for him to say it considering what he’s going to follow it with.
The Air Force flies 30 different kinds of airplanes. That’s good for the airplane industry, not so good for the rest of us who have to pay for them. Twenty different planes wouldn’t have been enough?
Once upon a time, this “old $250-a-month sergeant” (as he refers to himself) was in the Army and as a Stars and Stripes correspondent flew on B-17s over Germany. You know, Andy, we could have cut the number of planes in the WW2 Air Corps significantly if we hadn’t bothered with fighter escorts for those bombers.
Multi-role planes have their place. The F/A-18 is a shining example. But multi-role planes are, as a necessity, a compromise. Look at the A-10. It can’t do much besides KILL EVERYTHING ON THE GROUND. But it does that very, very well, saving many American lives in the process. The F/A-22 is being shoe-horned into the ground attack role as a means of justifying its existence. Now, at about a quarter of a billion dollars each, I imagine that the F/A-22 wouldn’t make Andy’s shortlist of good military investments. But it is meant to take the place of several single-role aircraft. Never mind that, even at the price, it won’t be very good at close air support even if some damn commander is fool enough to let it down where the ground pounders play. Maybe in Andy’s world things that do more do them better AND more cheaply?
The Pentagon doesn’t scrimp on the Navy either. Over the years, we built 69 battleships, even though battleships never did much except get sunk. The last one cost $3 billion. The good news is the Navy no longer uses battleships.
These are mothballed now, just rusting away.
Andy, besides getting the count wrong, seems to not have realized when the last US battleship was launched. 1944, Andy. And a couple of them served as recently as the 1991 Gulf War. How’s that for mileage? (I will simply ignore his claim that battleships weren’t ever good for much as sheer ignorance. Feel free to point out why I’m wrong and he’s right in the comments.)
We have nuclear submarines for sneaking up on enemies under water. One nuclear submarine costs $1.6 billion. We have 50.
DIVE. DIVE. They don’t dive in sand.
I guess the point he’s getting at is that nuclear subs can’t actually patrol the streets of Fallujah. I’m not really sure. Maybe he doesn’t think we need a navy? Maybe he’s not sure what a navy’s for? Maybe he doesn’t realize what subs actually do? In any case, he certainly seems to miss the point that particular missions require particular types of equipment at particular times.
The Army has 8,000 Abrams tanks. How effective was one of these $3 million vehicles in Baghdad?
In the video, he shows us pictures of what’s apparently a burning US tank while he says this. I guess unless your weapon system is 100% effective at all times against all enemies and 100% invulnerable to all things, it doesn’t cut the mustard in Andy’s Army. Also not lost on me is the irony of immediately following criticism of subs because they cannot operate in the deserts of Iraq with criticism of M1 tanks. (He apparently needs to have his dosages checked.)
The most effective weapon we have in war is still that poor dogface crawling forward on his stomach with a rifle in his hand.
I’ll avoid the obvious reply to this by not asking what good a poor dogface rifleman is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, at 25,000 feet in the air, or at 2,000 feet below the surface of the sea. I’ll also just mention in passing the fact that he’s claiming our entire military depends more or less exclusively on the same foot soldier that he claimed was not worthy of the tag ‘hero’ last time I mentioned the esteemed Mr. Rooney on MO.
Andy Rooney apparently thinks we need more foot soldiers and fewer planes, fewer ships, and fewer tanks.
Seems to me that everyone has tried that before. 1914 seems about right. Didn’t really work out so well. Especially for the poor dogfaces.
I’m sure Andy doesn’t mean we should return to those bad old days. But I’m not sure I know what he DOES mean.
Yes, he plays the old trick of wondering aloud if it wouldn’t be nice to spend the money we used on Stealth Bombers and Abrams tanks to pay for teachers or for interpreters instead. That’s a fair question, I guess. If you’re into hackneyed debates of utter banality, I guess you can dive in. (For the record, if everyone would just be nice, we could spend all the money we currently waste on police officers for more welfare dollars. But that’s beside the point.)
So what’s Andy getting at?
Apparently, besides the poor dogface, the only weapon he likes is the nuclear bomb. I guess because it works in the sand.
One reason that Andy might like the nuclear bomb is because of its deterrence value. I don’t really know any other really good reasons to like nuclear bombs. (And never mind that we only used two of the thousands and thousands we’ve made.)
But isn’t the best return on your military dollar the ability to retire the weapons unused? He showed us some shots of a boneyard filled with retired planes. Would he have been happier of more of those planes had seen combat? Last week I noted that the Phoenix missile was retired without ever having scored a kill. Only a couple were ever fired in combat. Would Rooney rather that most of the 5,000 built had been used? That would have meant the Rooskies were taking potshots at our carriers. Would the world be a better place if we had been able to better utilize our stockpile of Phoenix missiles?
He doesn’t like subs? But he likes nuclear bombs. I wonder what he thinks about nuclear missile subs, then. Without those, I imagine things would have been quite different. But as far as Rooney’s concerned, we don’t even need a navy.
I’ll be the first to say we don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to military procurement, and if you read this site with any regularity you’ll know that already. And it seems that often the poor dogface IS short-changed while major programs command the big bucks. But Rooney is criticizing a pretty wide range of things without (apparently) understanding the first damn thing about them.
And this passes the smell test and makes it into what was once the most-respected news program in America.
(You may have noticed more than the usual Murdoc snarkiness in this post. My first attempt at it, which I’ll readily admit was far, far better than this, was lost forever due to some error or another while posting. After actually heading to off bed in disgust, I decided to try again. I hope it was worth the effort.
And no disrespect to dogfaces. I’m simply using Rooney’s term of endearment.
For that matter, I wonder if any current or former dogfaces would care to comment on Andy’s theories. Comments are open.)