Close links between the military, politicians, and industry can sometimes result in the misallocation of funding.



In his 1961 farewell speech  US President,Eisenhower, and former WW2 Allied Commander, warned about the military-industrial complex (the deep connection between the military, politicians, and industry) having unwarranted influence over U.S. decision making. This article uses the example of the Littoral Combat Ship, designed for operations near shore, to show that Eisenhower was right. Note the following about the Littoral Combat Ship:

  • It has been plagued by problems since its conception in 2001. 

  • Beset by cost overruns, delays and mechanical failures.

  • Doubts about its survivability in high-intensity combat.

  • Astronomical operating costs.

  • Designed to perform one primary mission at a time.

  • Part of the network-centric warfare concept, it was supposed to be small, light, and fast and possessed “nodes” that could connect to other weapon systems.

  • Modular mission packages were to use the same cheaply built hull.

  • It required a crew of 40 plus 15 to 20 extra depending on the operation.

  • Despite Congress’s concerns, the project went ahead. 

  • Proved the U.S. Navy’s over-reliance on a small number of shipyards.

  • Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld supported the U.S. Navy budget for a small surface combatant.

  • The U.S. Government funded two teams (Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, to provide a prototype.

  • The U.S. Navy would choose one of the prototypes to go into full production. 

  • The House Armed Services Committee argued that the littoral combat ship concept was “immature” and funding should be cut.

  • The U.S. Navy, however, stated that cuts would be disastrous for the defence industrial base.

  • Through a concerted contractor lobbying campaign, the program continued, and 23 vessels were built and commissioned.

  • As a result, the U.S. navy has an expensive ship that cannot perform its mission.