M-16: A Bureaucratic Horror Story
Or "how a series of bad decisions (and refusing to admit it) leads to disaster". Corruptions (albeit possible) has not been proved, but bureaucracy together with "bad luck" is the most plausible explanation.
Mon Mar 25 08:21:44 2019 - permalink -
Still today, in a burst of pride, the M-16 has been modified... but not back to its original design...
These emphases had little to do with the experience of jungle combat, in which most fire fights took place at ranges of no more than thirty to fifty yards, and in which speed and surprise were so important that it might often cost a soldier his life to take the time to aim his rifle instead of simply pointing it in the right direction and opening up on automatic.
The ordnance corps was small-time, insular, old-fashioned. Its technical experts were divided into a number of subspecialties: internal ballistics (which concern the bullet’s behavior before it leaves the weapon), external ballistics (the bullet in flight), wound ballistics, and other areas. Its organization was further fragmented among technicians at the arsenals and the research center ant he military bureaucrats at the Pentagon. Historically, its first instinct, when presented with a new technical possibility, had been to reject it and stick to traditional solutions. Twice since the Civil War, American Presidents had had to force the ordnance corps to adopt new rifles that had come from outside its own shop.
==> How ironic this describes some companies in 2019 !
Perhaps the truest explanation of why things happened as they did is the most ordinary: that human beings could not foresee the way that chance and circumstance could magnify the consequences of their acts. The military supply organization, like most other organizations, is always full of power plays and bureaucratic games, which distract attention from the goals that in a rational world would always be pursued. Only occasionally does chance make the effects of these games catastrophic.