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Biotech Technology

Army's Cut of 'Future Soldier' May Impact Med-Tech 184

Posted by Zonk
from the we-have-the-technology dept.
docinthemachine writes "The U.S. Army has decided to axe its $500 Million 'Land Warrior Soldier of the Future' program. If this goes through, the loss of future medical technology will be enormous. Many do not realize the enormous amount of medical technology that trickles down from the military. The program was working on develops new HUDs, 3D vision systems, and bioarmor. Surgeons today are using this technology (via DARPA) to develop new robotic surgery, bioimplants, intelligent prosthetics and more." That's the downside. The reason for the program's cutting is fairly obvious: "Unfortunately, land Warrior is part of the Army's Future Combat System (FCS) Initiative. This is the roadmap for an unprecedented hi-tech modernization of the Army. What new? How about an air force of completely unmanned remote controlled fighters- it's in the budget! Unfortunately, the entire project is so far over budget it becomes a target for cuts. Originally at $60 billion, then $127B, recent estimates have balooned to $300 billion total cost (yes that's billion with a B) and some are calling it the biggest military boondoggle ever."
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Army's Cut of 'Future Soldier' May Impact Med-Tech

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  • not quite.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:32AM (#17172336) Homepage
    Originally at $60 billion, then $127B, recent estimates have balooned to $300 billion total cost (yes that's billion with a B) and some are calling it the biggest military boondoggle ever.

    At I believe it's still at least 100 billion short of the iraq invasion, which currently holds the record as the biggest military boondoggle. ever.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by twiddlingbits (707452)
      No the invasion was VERY sucessful, the occupation and "mop-up" has been very tough going. I still wouldn't call it a military boondoggle, because we are engaging most of the enemy (terrorists) in that fight and we have not been attacked on US Soil. The biggest military boondoggle that comes to mind was Hitler not allowing the Armor he had in Reserve to be applied to repelling the Normandy (D-Day) invasion as he didn't think it was real. Releasing the armor would likely have crushed the invasion and the war
      • The biggest military boondoggle that comes to mind was Hitler not allowing the Armor he had in Reserve to be applied to repelling the Normandy (D-Day) invasion as he didn't think it was real. Releasing the armor would likely have crushed the invasion and the war would have continued longer (don't think the Nazi's would have won though).

        From what I read, there were two related issues on D-Day: (1) Hitler equivocated on what to do with his armor in preparation for a possible attack; his generals proposed a
      • Re:not quite.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday December 09, 2006 @11:06AM (#17173860) Homepage Journal
        I still wouldn't call it a military boondoggle, because we are engaging most of the enemy (terrorists) in that fight and we have not been attacked on US Soil.

        The key mistake in this argument is the assumption that the people we're fighting in Iraq are people who would, if not so occupied, be flying planes into US buildings. Now, some of them probably are, but the best evidence -- given how al-Sadr, bin Laden et al are using the war as a recruiting tool -- is that most of them are people who, before the war, may not have liked the US very much, but didn't actively hate it enough to go out and try to kill Americans; even if those Americans were right next door, not halfway around the world!

        Before 9/11, there were plenty of Americans who didn't have any warm'n'fuzzy feelings about the Middle East, but they weren't in any rush to go and enlist to sit out on some chunk of sand in Saudi Arabia either. After 9/11, recruiting stations had lines around the block. If you can't see the parallel here, you're blind.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dread_ed (260158)
          And the key mistake you are making in the argument is that you are confusing a military operation with political problem. Even with post-invasion losses included, this has been one of the least bloody operations in US history.

          The military has done and is doing a fantastic job. The political ramifications of the invasion and subsequent nation building haven't been managed well. No this isn't Bush bashing exclusively, it a general condemnation of all of our elected federal officials and the way they naviga
        • The Iraqi War has not really increased the threat to the west or created more jihadists. The outrage amongst extremists would be the same due to the war against the Taliban and Al Quaeda in Afghanistan. Jihadists from around the world would have flocked there rather than Iraq. The Jihadists stress Iraq today because they are media and PR savvy enough to know that Iraq is where they can drive a wedge between westerners. They learned from Vietnam that wars can be won by victories in the press, despite defeats
      • by Illserve (56215)
        No, the war would have ended at about the same time, except that the Soviets would have occupied all of Germany instead of half of it.

        At that point the situation was so badly deteriorated that it was largely a question of how long it took the soviets to physically move their tanks there.
        • I'm not sure about that. Truman was strongly anti-communist. What you may have seen was a US/UK vs Russia for control of post-Nazi Germany. Interesting alternative history theme for a sci-fi novel perhaps. As I recall the Alternate History that Harry Harrison? did was based on the Nazi's winning the war.
      • by vondo (303621)

        and we have not been attacked on US Soil.

        Q: Give the dates of the last two attacks on American soil from radical Islamic terrorists.
        A: 1993 and 2001

        So we need another three years out of the current policy before you can even make this "fight them there so we don't fight them here" crap. Others addressed the "recruiting more than we are killing point." I'll just say "Ask people in Madrid and London how they think the 'fight them there so we don't fight them here' policy is working for them."

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ArcherB (796902)
          I think you are forgetting about the Cole and several embassies in Africa. Or does it not count unless it is under your nose? I also think you are forgetting that the biggest AlQaeda recruiting tool before 9-11 was the way we left Somalia high and dry after losing a few guys.

          These guys don't respect weakness. They live by the sword and will not quit until they die by it.

      • because we are engaging most of the enemy (terrorists) in that fight and we have not been attacked on US Soil.

        Brilliant. Instead of making it difficult and expensive for them to kill us, we spend billions of dollars making it easy for the terrorists, by sending our citizens into hostile environment where the terrorists blend in, speak the language, and have local support. Meanwhile, we kill a few of them, but the war provides the perfect recruiting tool to create even more radical Islamist terrorists, wh

        • Major fallacy..we are not sending citizens, we are sending citizens who VOLUNTERED to join the military knowing full well they could go to Iraq. Billions wasted? Maybe..yut when you don't hear the stories that most Iraqis are quite happy we are there, it is easy to say that! The bad area is really only Baghdad which is a small part of a large country, and they are killing each other a hell of lot more than Coalition soldiers. We have also learned a great deal about terrorist tactics and urban warfare, fact
      • >we are engaging most of the enemy (terrorists) in that fight and we have not been attacked on US Soil.

        The attacks have happened in Spain and Britain instead. Both had troops in Iraq. Fighting in Iraq does not prevent terrorist attacks.

        It was one of our allies who acknowledged that the current President is "the best recruiting sergeant ever for al-Qaida".

        bin Laden's second in command, Zawahiri, publicly thanked God for the situation in Iraq.

        AQ strategist Yusuf al-Ayeri published a book arguing that the b
  • FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob Gelumph (715872) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:33AM (#17172340)
    Sounds to me like this is being reported by someone who wants to keep the program running, so they are trying to fud it up with implications that medical science will be harmed.
    If the U.S. didn't get into wars all the time, then wouldn't that both save lives and cost less money?
    • Re:FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mrbluze (1034940) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:52AM (#17172432) Journal
      Although historically medical advances were military in origin (major surgery mostly), the major diseases that confront wealthy societies have very little to do with combat. Take cancer or heart disease or diabetes as examples (although depleted uranium may be a way to generate cases) - we don't have any shortage of people with these complaints. Civilian society is driving medicine forward in these fields. What is more, vaccination against common fatal infections was arguably the greatest medical advance of the 20th century, and this did not come about because of the army. Just to give credence to your point :)
      • Re:FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

        by legoburner (702695) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @07:37AM (#17172870) Homepage Journal
        Indeed, I would wager that $300Billion pumped directly into medical research would have given a hell of a lot more results than 'land warrior' trickle down.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by ksb (517539)
          Although perhaps without the availability of captured 'enemy' personnel to experiment on.
        • FUD by the Opponents (Score:5, Informative)

          by cluckshot (658931) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @11:10AM (#17173896)

          The US Army has been very much at the fore front of modern medicine. Obviously the future list of benefits isn't in yet but here is a short list of a few benefits I can think of right off the top.

          Coumadin - Primary anticoagulation and colt prevention drug used in medicine -- Developed as Sodium Warfarin to kill RATS.

          Most Skin Grafting and venous grafting technology arose from combat surgery and recovery. This includes the modern advances heading towards organ replacement that began as tissue replacement efforts under US Army funding.

          Most Rehabilitation technology (No comment needed here)

          Most Nutrition Research -- Yeah folks they were from the 1860's on the primary research effort into human nutrition

          Vaccinations of nearly all types. -- Yes I know there is some history before and outside the Army but most of the efforts to contain disease are US Armed Forces based this is world wide.

          Water Purification -- Most of the efforts at good potable water development are US Armed Forces developments.

          Mapping - Not just GPS folks the US Armed forces have been involved in this to the limit and it benefits all mankind including those around the world who use the Satellite technology for such. This is cheaply available because of the US Armed Forces.

          Weather -- The US Armed Forces provide a very large part of the weather research around the world and millions owe their lives to it. This is on going research

          Electrical and Magnetic Technology advances. -- Funny how those typing on computers can complain so about the US Armed Forces. Computers wouldn't be hear and that famous OS Microsoft sells wouldn't be here either.

          Education -- You know all those kids from the far East who are knocking us Americans out of a job because their schools work? Well they learned in schools largely patterned after US Armed Forces Schooling technology. The contribution of the US Armed Forces to Human Learning is very deep.

          I know it may not be popular to say so but the US Armed Forces have done a lot of good.

          To be fair, in this "Free Trade" world, the new technology is more likely to displace an American from his job than it is to make him one. But that is a matter of US Tax and Trade policy it is not one of the US Armed Forces. The US Armed Forces are in their R&D beyond belief. Here is a short list of what is coming: [1] Cars that drive themselves saving millions of lives and billions of barrels of oil and stopping much damage to the environment. [2] Faster and better computers. [3] New Energy Technologies. [4] More disease control. Are there bad things? I am sure some things will always go wrong. But on the whole, the loss of US Armed Forces Research is nailing the lid on the casket of the USA in future generations.

          • You can directly fund and make medicine progress without any military involvement.
            Its the MONEY that funds the science and engineering that invents the stuff, it is NOT the military. The military just defines the problems to be solved.

            Necessity is the mother of invention, so I'd be willing to go for civil war, WW1 and WW2 pushing many things forward but NOT the others.
        • by Gilmoure (18428)
          But then we wouldn't have all those cool cable shows about stuff blowing up!
        • Goodness. If you care so much about investing directly in medicine you should do it. Don't recommend that the government take everybody else's money and force them to support it. Start your own charity. Call it The LegoBurner Foundation.

          National Defense is a legitimate constitutional responsibility of national government. Medical research is not.
          • When your country is spending as much on its military as is the rest of the world *combined*, "National Defense" is an obvious euphemism. It's a very expensive jobs program. It's a very expensive scientific research program. It's a hidden subsidy for the aerospace industry. It's a program for enforcing the interests of our corporations abroad.

            Now, which of the listed things passes the muster of your strict constructionist views?

            When we pare our forces and expenditures back to the point where we can only
      • Well, sort of. What you have to understand is that all sciences advance in relation to each other. That is because techniques or discoveries made in one field frequently find application in other, often unrelated fields. The money our military alone expended on basic research in the past century advanced technology on numerous fronts (physics, materials technology, electronics and computers, microwaves and optics to name but a few.) The availability of this knowledge has pushed medical science forward at an
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by db32 (862117)
      Sounds to me like someone is very left leaning and history challenged. But hey that seems to be the best way to get +1 Left Leaning Slashdot Groupthink.

      "If the U.S. didn't get into wars all the time, then wouldn't that both save lives and cost less money?". That is patently false. I could come up with examples of this all day long, but we will stick with a few basic ones. First we have the transportation industry, planes, trains, and automobiles all have gone through great leaps and bounds in technolo
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ImpTech (549794)
      I work for a company that is involved in several military contracts, including FCS, though we have nothing to do with Land Warrior. From some conversations I've had with vendors we work with, the Land Warrior system is being cut because it doesn't work, and because the company developing it is apparently incompetent. As a result, FCS is moving to the Future Force Warrior system as a replacement.

      This is much ado about nothing. One system sucked, so the Army is dumping it in favor of a better one.
    • This reminds me of the Comanche program. They spent an asinine amount of money on it before deciding that UAVs are a better idea. Then there was the OICW program which was also (largely) scrapped. I guess these things are relatively common.
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:37AM (#17172374)
    So the questions have to be: if the results of this research are so amazing;

    1. why aren't companies like Pfizer investing in it? (probably they are?)
    2. why doesn't the US Government have the sense to invest directly in such things?

    Do we really have so little influence over the State, and the State is so stupid, that our best hope is to encourage the State to invest indirectly in such research by funding military development and hoping we get the sort of spin-off we're looking for?

    And even more significantly, have we ACCEPTED this state of affairs?

    This is OUR money that's being spent.
    • have we ACCEPTED this state of affairs?
      Yep! Actually, worse!
    • Ask a hundred average americans if they would not mind having their taxes raised to fund medical research and ask the same people if they would not mind having their taxes raised to fight terrorism and see what kinds of answers you get.

      The fact of the matter is the americans are in favor of having a large and powerful military. It makes us feel like men.
    • by lixee (863589) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @07:31AM (#17172846)
      This is OUR money that's being spent.
      That's, in part, the answer to the infamous "Why do they hate us?" question.

      You can mod me down now.
    • by kinnell (607819) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @08:17AM (#17173046)

      1. why aren't companies like Pfizer investing in it?

      The trouble with investing in government programs is that the entire project can be ditched overnight for the benefit of someone's political agenda

    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Saturday December 09, 2006 @09:10AM (#17173272) Journal
      1. why aren't companies like Pfizer investing in it? (probably they are?)

      Well, libertarian or not, you're going to have to accept that just because a technology is really cool, doesn't mean the private sector wants to invest in it, even if they got guaranteed patent rights to it. The risk/return/time horizon profile may not be justified compared to other investments.

      2. why doesn't the US Government have the sense to invest directly in such things?

      I suppose you could ask the same thing about the space program.
    • 1. why aren't companies like Pfizer investing in it? (probably they are?)

      Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company - their objective is selling drugs, not saving lives. Pfizer's revenue is $12.3 billion, the US government's revenue is $2.8 trillion. Pfizer isn't very well run, and neither is the Federal government (compared to best US business practices - compared to other countries, they're both great). Pfizer's incentives are in trying to limit effects of obesity, the Government wants fewer soldiers to die be
  • by arcite (661011)
    Why spend millions of $$$ on things like armor or HUDs when all it takes is a cheap IED to blow up a humvee?

    It would probably be cheaper to invest in peace and avoid war all together.

    • That's what so many people fail to realize: the US investment
      in the military and defense is an investment in peace.

  • Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better...stronger...faster. and errrrrrrrr over budget.
  • I'm not a big fan of war, but that thing was pretty badass. Plans for all sorts of sci-fi tech, adaptive camoflauge, bio-monitoring, crazy HUD stuff in the helmet, basically a stillsuit underneath it all, liquid reactive body armor, all the way up to eventual exoskeletons... Shame to see it axed. That said, the guy they have modeling the crap in every picture i've seen looks pretty svelte for the role, i dont think speedskaters are the soldiers of the future.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not a big fan of war, but that thing was pretty badass. Plans for all sorts of sci-fi tech, adaptive camoflauge, bio-monitoring, crazy HUD stuff in the helmet, basically a stillsuit underneath it all, liquid reactive body armor, all the way up to eventual exoskeletons... Shame to see it axed.

      That's why it's being axed.

      It's a load of horseshit.

      Have you seen the sorts of prototypes they've been showing off? They don't look like battlefield systems. They look like toys. Few looked actually deployable, a

  • How about this? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EyyySvenne (999534) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:34AM (#17172580)

    Many do not realize the enormous amount of medical technology that trickles down from the military.
    Many do not realize the enormous amount of medical technology that would emerge from spending $500 Million on it directly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by twiddlingbits (707452)
      500M is a small amount of funding for medical research. It is estimated the cost to get a new drug to market can be upwards of $1B. The latest figures I can find on Google say medical research spending in was $95 billion in 2003 with a 57/43 mix of private to public funds. So 500M is about 1/2 of 1% of 2003 levels. If the 500M in question was 100% spent on NIH projects it would be less than 2% of the NIH's 2005 budget. Spent wisely on targeted diseases or problems the money could be helpful but just tossing
      • by JavaRob (28971)

        500M is a small amount of funding for medical research.

        It was far too small for this particular military project, for that matter. Just read the rest of the summary (never mind RTFA):

        recent estimates have ballooned to $300 billion total cost (yes that's billion with a B)

        Bad estimates are bad estimates, no matter what sector you're in. It's still hard to imagine how the R&D effort required would be smaller if:
        * the research could be targeted directly to generally applicable medical breakthroughs, as opposed to warfare-relevant-only research that may "trickle down".
        * there's more of an interaction for some projects with the commercial sector

  • by dwater (72834) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:49AM (#17172638)
    > $300 billion total cost (yes that's billion with a B)

    No, that's billion with a 'b'. You mean 'Billion'; that's billion with a 'B'.
  • Waste of money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lupine_stalker (1000459) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:51AM (#17172640)
    I wonder if it occurred to any of the that the approx. $300 billion could be used to provide food, medical supplies, clean water and decent housing to most of Africa, propelling America to a saint-like status, and eliminating most anti-american bias that has accumulated.
    Remember that Monty Python quote: "But what have the Romans given us?" "Roads" "Ok, besides that, what have the Romans given us?" "Sewerage systems." And so on.
    How would an extremist go about recruiting people to his cause when the country was the source of their food, water and etc. (not meaning to sound condescending).
    • by mmkkbb (816035)
      How would an extremist go about recruiting people to his cause when the country was the source of their food, water and etc. (not meaning to sound condescending).

      I don't know but they could check and see what worked in the United States.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by haakondahl (893488)

      I wonder if it occurred to any of the that the approx. $300 billion could be used to provide food, medical supplies, clean water and decent housing to most of Africa, propelling America to a saint-like status, and eliminating most anti-american bias that has accumulated.

      This is a fantastic idea. We'll just let any old gang of thugs do whatever they want with our money, and we won't even pretend that we could do something about the organized murder and repression, even if we did care. Better yet, we could

    • by dsanfte (443781)
      Rofl! Yes, that's it. Hand out money like candy to bribe people into liking you! That's never been thought of before!

      Guess what? It doesn't work. The top 2% of the elite get all the money, the people get nothing, and then start hating America for propping up yet another corrupt regime.

      Despite the fact that a handout of that size would simply never happen, I struggle to believe it could ever be successful. We are talking here about people who have simply not learned how to live in a society like ours. The hu
      • Ah, the old "aid to Africa doesn't work, because they just don't have the same decency and respect for the rule of law and I'll bet they don't even play baseball or love their children" chestnut.

        Yes, many governments in Africa are corrupt. That's why aid needs to come with oversight. Not oversight of the "We'll say how you spend it" variety, because that just leads to 'solutions' that don't have much effect on the ground. Instead, we ask them to come up with a plan that will do something like fighting po
        • by dsanfte (443781)
          I don't want to see any foreign involvement in Africa. No more aid. Let them solve their own problems. If they want a tribal society again, I say go for it. It's none of our business.
    • by radtea (464814)
      Remember that Monty Python quote: "But what have the Romans given us?" "Roads" "Ok, besides that, what have the Romans given us?" "Sewerage systems." And so on.

      Rome "gave" the world roads by conquering it, and those roads were fundamentally military technology--their purpose was primarily to facilitate the rapid movement of troops about the Empire. And to give aid to Africans rather than Africa would in fact require conquest or something like it. Somalia. Rawanda. Darfur.

      If one were to use Rome as a mo
  • Originally at $60 billion, then $127B, recent estimates have balooned to $300 billion total cost

    How about running these robots on Linux? That should cut the cost down to a mere price to download the robot parts....

  • fix funding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idlake (850372) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @07:35AM (#17172864)
    Just because the military and space exploration have traditionally funded research efforts that have "trickled down" doesn't mean that that's the best way of funding those efforts. What indirect funding through the military has accomplished in the past is to separate politicians from interfering directly research; that's been valuable, but it has also given us a bloated military and lots of wars, because that bloated military wants to do something.

    In the end, the best way of funding medical research is by giving funding to medical research, and the best way of making advances in computers, semiconductors, material science, nutrition, etc. is to fund those areas. We just need to figure out how to make that work politically without wasting money on gimmicks like the military or manned space exploration.
    • "it has also given us a bloated military and lots of wars, because that bloated military wants to do something."

      OK, I'll bite. Since you're obviously an expert, please be so kind as to tell us exactly how big the US military should be to defend the US, deter would-be agressors, fulfill international treaty obligations, etc. And do you honestly believe that servicemen and women want to go into combat, and risk life and limb? For what, the excitement of battle? Or do you believe that the military dictates

      • by idlake (850372)
        OK, I'll bite. Since you're obviously an expert, please be so kind as to tell us exactly how big the US military should be to defend the US, deter would-be agressors, fulfill international treaty obligations, etc.

        Probably roughly in line with the military expenditures of other Western nations, relative to their GDP and population (whichever is proportionally less).

        I do agree with your comments about effective funding for research, but by calling the military a "gimmick" you're merely parading your ignorance
  • nerds (Score:3, Funny)

    by idlake (850372) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @07:52AM (#17172928)
    Black outfit, plastic helmet--looks like the soldier of the future is some kind of SciFi nerd.
  • Verizon (Score:3, Funny)

    by zaguar (881743) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @08:05AM (#17172974)
    With some creative accounting with help from Verizon, perhaps the 300B figure could be "manipulated" to minimize budget blowouts.
  • There are advantages to military spending, sure. The real question is whether private capital markets, from which the tax revenue must be seized in the first place, are more or less efficient at improving social welfare than the simulated command economy of military budgets. I, for one, think that most military spending is so much less efficient at helping the general welfare that it's really a money sink. Cut their budget. We lose a couple of your pet medical advances, but the preferences of the genera
  • Just a hunch, but I'm guessing the private sector could get them up and running a lot faster.

  • Look this is supposed to come online in what... fifteen to twenty years? By that time, ''soldiers'' will be sitting in Pods in Idaho, controlling swarms of robots walking around Iraq (Yes, they US will probably still be there ...) The concept of putting humans in dangerous situations will be as alien as putting humans inside a nuclear reactor is today.

    We've got robots driving themselves ( http://www.grandchallenge.org/ [grandchallenge.org] ) and many, many robots that are starting to walk effectively, and simultaneous transla
    • "Our destiny is to be civilians. The soldier will cease to exist, and the supervision might be outsourced from Idaho to pods in India at 1$/hour."

      Thats a bunch of baloney, robots can be hacked. The signals that control the robot remotely can be jammed or interfered with. I doubt the need for human forces will go away as quickly as you think it will, most likely it will be a hybrid battlefield.
      • -- The trivial 'hack' is to jam communications, which is basically a DOS. My assumption is that robots will have basic self-defense capabilities and autonomy when their communicatons are hacked. They will continue as ordered, much like a cruise missile today, without radio guidance, will head to target using GPS. If the GPS fails, it will continue on inertial systems. If their orders are to 'hold the base' they will fire on whatever approaches them. etc...
        -- You do not need to be on the battlefield to h
  • Here on Ward Island / TAMUCC we've got over 10 million of related research going on. This is a sad day and I hope doesn't effect us. :( http://www.sp.tamucc.edu/pulse/info.shtml [tamucc.edu]
  • The primary reason FCS has seen such enormous escalations in costs is that it rather stupidly ignores normal military R&D cycles. The rather poor assumption is that if you envision what you want your military force to look like, and throw enough money and people at it you'll get it. In doing so, planners essentially hope to skip the next generation of military tech and instead deploy the second generation of technologies at the time one would have the first. Not only is this absurdly expensive, it
  • It's too bad the project is axed; the soldiers would have looked pretty hot in that spandex [dla.mil]...
  • Doing some advanced math, it looks like they're not willing to spend two tenths of one percent of the total on this foot soldier stuff. And parents are having to send kevlar vests and helmet liners to their kids cause the Army is too cheap and/or slow. Kinda bad for morale if you ask me.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @11:03AM (#17173832) Homepage Journal
    The military is a terrible jobs program and overall R&D system. Of course if we're hiring lots of soldiers and improving medicine for necessary military operations, then we should harness that huge progressive activity for the greater good. But reversing the process, and putting job creation and R&D into the military just because it's got a budget, is a tremendous waste. Not to mention that funding and maintaining a huge military brings us closer to war, despite naive oversimplifications described as "deterrence". As history shows, and Einstein noticed, "you cannot simultaneously prepare for war and make peace". FWIW, that is not to say we don't need a substantial military in our dangerous and unpredictable world, but a giant one is provocative of enemies (including new ones), drives some people to expect "if we have it, we should use it, or we're wasting it", and then it gets in the way of better alternate solutions to problems: "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

    We want more jobs, basic science and healthcare R&D. We clearly want to fund and operate it through the government, socialism, because we want everyone in the country to benefit equally from access and results, regardless of money and position. So instead we should spend that money directly on job creation and R&D. Simply offering more scholarships to med students, especially researchers, with most of that money would make most of the difference. Scholarships for recertifying mostly qualified foreign doctors would bring more foreign expertise, techniques, even whole theraputic systems into the country. Rather than throwing them away like we do now in order to maintain our artificially low supply vs increasing demand, just to keep privileged doctors rich and worshipped like gods. And much more could be spent increasing the National Guard for coping with increasing natural disasters like hurricanes / floods / wildfires and manmade toxic spills. Or invested in highschool level training and entrepreneur grants for locals to start re/construction companies, possibly trained with rotations through the Army Engineer Corps, or a more civilian one.

    But just spending $BILLIONS, $TRILLIONS on a military jobs/R&D program is a huge waste. We want to buy those things for our country's security. Better to do it without bloating our unaccountable military further, and actually get more productive, healthier citizens. Instead of more dead/wounded people and a higher bill.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @02:17PM (#17175600)
    "If this goes through, the loss of future medical technology will be enormous."

    I think our medical technology in the fields of blunt trauma and prosthetics are "good enough" at this point. The Army can develop ways to better help you cope with getting shot or getting into a car collision, but they haven't touched the field of disease since they figured out how to avoid malaria and promote hygene. I don't see the Army curing cancer or AIDS or anything of the sort.

    Besides, a lot of the treatments developed by the Army nowadays are so expensive you'll need the budget of the Department of Defense to pay for it.
  • Am I the only one annoyed that some advancements can only be done 'through' the military ? I mean, if it's a medical advance, why should it be on a military budget ? The military is here to kill people. Give the money directly to a medical research institution instead. Yeah, I know Darpa has done great civilian advances, the internet, yadada. But why ?
  • ... biggest military boondoggle ever.

    Read: " ... biggest military boodoggle yet."

    -kgj
  • by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog@gmail.cRASPom minus berry> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @04:41PM (#17177342) Homepage Journal

    And now, this word from the Military Industrial Complex ...

    Did you know that war is good for you? That's right: think of all the amazing medical benefits which trickle down like a warm, red rivulet of blood from today's mechanized battlefield! Artificial limbs, artificial skin, artificial eyes ... just thank a disfigured soldier!

    But that's not all! Thanks to military development, you can buy a combat-sized humvee just like the ones you see smoldering on TV (armor not included -- see dealer for details). Your police department's armaments have never been deadlier. And coming soon: pain-causing crowd control devices guaranteed to put the "obey" back in "civil disobedience."

    You U.S. citizens are fortunate to live in a nation which has been continuously at war somewhere in the world for over sixty years. Nothing benefits the homefront more than the front line. So call your legislator now, before the new Democratic congress, and tell him or her you demand the rich benefits of bloated defense appropriations. Because there's no bigger buzzkill than stopping the killing.

    War ... what's it good for? It's good for you!

  • Scientists hate to see any funding go away. Sure, it would be better to get that $500 million invested directly into research, but cutting that money out of a military research program hardly means it will be directly spent on research. The total NIH budget (the government's medical research department) has a budget of around $30 billion, and goes up by something like 1% per year (less than inflation, or Congress's cost-of-living raises).

    Until more science-minded people actually go into the deciding (rath
  • Military hardware - especially nukes - is never meant to be USED.

    It's meant to be PAID FOR.

    And it's only used when somebody wants to GET PAID AGAIN FOR REPLACING IT - or use it up arranging for somebody else to get paid (in oil or whatever resource is the reason for the war.)

    "Boondoggles" happen for a reason - and it's not simple stupidity or incompetence.

    Years ago, I read in an electronic engineering journal an article by an engineer who consulted for a company manufacturing a certain component for the US
  • Let's see... we can piss away trillions on protecting and projecting the interests of the American Ruling Class by way of a global imperial army, and get the ancillary secondary benefits of spiffy medical tech, OR, we could simply spend trillions on helping people lead better healthier lives and develop the technology to do so, directly. By dismantling the military we can dispense with its farcical false consciousness, and the money now spent murdering people can be used to directly benefit people and make

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone

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