Military Intelligence

"Military Intelligence" -- a contradiction in terms, you say? Well, let the deeds of the militarists speak for themselves. We've collected some prime examples.

By Kathleen O'Hara

Perrin Beatty's nuclear subs might cost Canadians as much as $15 billion dollars -- and they might also cost Beatty his waistline. Ever since his red-neck White Paper was released, our Defence Minister has been wooed by submarine manufacturers vying for those lucrative sub contracts. In Halifax, for example, Beatty was treated to a one-million dollar party by French industrialists. The extravaganza came complete with a fleet of white limousines and a 24-hour gourmet buffet. Lying there temptingly in the centre of the sumptuous spread was a life-like model of a French nuclear submarine-- made entirely of lard. What could be more fattening than a steady diet of lard subs?

The U.S. Army is in the market for "rest devices" for its tank crews. The devices are needed to make life more pleasant for soldiers who must sit in the cramped armored interior of M-1 tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles for up to three days at a time. Here's the shopping list so far: lightweight net hammocks for a moment of shut-eye; small, battery-powered massagers so soldiers can ease the strain of sitting; and relaxation tapes. It seems the tanks will be stocked with a wide selection of audio cassettes with everything from sleep-inducing imagery tapes to music tailored to the crew's taste.(Sound systems for tanks haven't been developed yet.) All this is because tests have shown that most human beings can't stand more than twenty hours of confinement at a time and the U.S. army wants its soldiers to stay put for 72. Also, in the tank improvement category: a mechanical voice may soon be added to tanks to alert the crew with the following obnoxious reminder, "Your hatch is ajar, your hatch is ajar." And do they have seatbelts in those things?

Want to rock n' roll military style? It takes more than a good beat. In the lingo of U.S. fighter pilots, "rockin'" means an air-to-ground attack and "rollin'" is an air-to-air mission. That's why when McDonnell Douglas wanted to promote its FA-18 fighter plane it adopted an extremely groovy poster campaign. One poster shows an FA-18 racing toward the heavens with the title of that wonderful sixties tune "Do You Believe in Magic?" emblazoned alongside. Was that really what the Lovin' Spoonful had in mind? Another poster features a suddenly militaristic Rolling Stone tune "Get Off My Cloud." Mick Jagger threatening enemy aircraft? How far can our industrial defenders take their sudden appreciation for popular tunes? A picture of an atomic explosion accompanied by "Hard Days Night"? If this is the future use of rock n' roll, let's return to the waltz.

A Sunday paper recently headlined a story this way: "Death gas breathes new life into tiny U.S. community." After a nineteen-year moratorium on chemical weapons manufacturing, Pine Bluff, Arkansas is looking forward to making nerve gas again. Says its mayor: "The money motive isn't everything. Round here we're real patriotic. People can remember way back to when we made mustard gas for the war effort in the 1940s. They believed in it then, and they believe in it now." The sad story is, Pine Bluff is in farm country and local farming is dying.

The U.S. Army is determined to reduce psychiatric casualties in future conventional wars. That's why, according to Professor Richard Gabriel of New Hampshire, it's working on a new "war drug." The drug would control the enormous anxiety soldiers feel on a modern battlefield of vicious high-tech combat. It combines a tranquilizer with a stimulant for the part of the brain with the "killer instinct." Trouble is, says Gabriel, this new drug could appeal to civilians. "Millions of people would lose all moral and ethical sense," he warns. Imagine the parties!

Some British regiments aren't looking as well-polished as they once did. It seems the reputations of the Coldstream Guards of Buckingham Palace fame and other battalions are tarnished after serious charges of bullying recruits. Some young soldiers have claimed they were punched, kicked, burned, and tossed out of windows during initiation rites. When the idea of an independent ombudsman was suggested, British military sources said such a system might undermine discipline in the ranks.

Was it a case of not wanting to be "late for launch" ? U.S. government investigators have discovered several cases of faulty testing on a key guidance part for the air-launched cruise missile. Workers at Northrop's Precision Products of Norwood, Massachusetts have been fired for imprecision, and Lee Aspin, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee reported that required tests on the key flight-control component had been omitted. He said schedules had been over-emphasized. "The key concern of management is to push the goods out the door. Whether the goods work is secondary." What's the rush? we ask.

If the above worries you, fear not. Our consumer society has risen to the occasion. The spirit of free enterprise has once again responded to a recent demand in the marketplace. Hot off the assembly line comes the "must have" product of the 80s: a home radiation detector from Threshold Technical Products. The detector is aptly called "Survivor" and sells for $185. It looks like a night light, is the size of a coffee cup, and plugs neatly into your wall outlet. Once it's hooked up, occupants of any room can rest assured. If a predetermined level of radiation enters the room, the Survivor lets out a mighty warning. The Survivor has been described as the item to buy if you're at all worried about the truckload of tritium passing your apartment or the planeload of plutonium that might be flying overhead.

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1988

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1988, page 30. Some rights reserved.

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