The effectiveness of US military forces relies on private industry to provide the military with top-tier equipment. But increasingly it’s coming to light that the defense industry is more interested in lining its own pockets rather than giving our warfighters the very best equipment. And worse, sometimes outright fraud can call into question our military’s effectiveness.
It just recently came to light that an engineer for a US Navy contractor faked test results on steel that was being provided in the manufacture of US submarines. The tests were run between 1985 and 2017, meaning that every submarine in the US fleet likely was produced with this steel. The fraud only came to light when the female engineer was on the verge of retirement, and the person she was grooming to replace her noticed that test results seemed off.
Incredibly, the company sought to cover up the fact that this was outright fraud, preferring to categorize it apparently as an honest mistake. And so it continued to take years for authorities to figure out exactly what was going on.
There’s no telling how much damage that one single woman did. We have to be thankful that no one was seriously injured or killed because of her actions, or at least we hope not. But what would have happened had these submarines really been subjected to extremes, and failed?
The really scary part about this incident is that it probably isn’t an isolated occurrence. There are likely dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people like this all throughout the defense industry, cutting corners to make their lives easier or to boost their company’s profits, at the expense of our servicemen.
It’s probably worth keeping in mind due to this incident that milspec doesn’t mean high quality, it just means something created ostensibly to the military’s specifications, by a contractor who won the lowest bid on a contract. And as long as this system prevails, it’s unlikely our soldiers will ever actually be able to trust that the equipment to which they entrust their lives will actually do so.