Just. Plain. Wrong.

Rooney: Too Many Weapons? (with video)

Andy Rooney thinks we have too many weapons in the US military. Or that we spend too much money on them. Or he’s mad that we don’t use them more often. Or something.

Near the top he says

We have enough nuclear weapons to wipe out civilization. No one should have any, but I’m enough of an American to be glad we do.

This seems reasonable enough to me. But it’s genuinely bizarre for him to say it considering what he’s going to follow it with.

The Air Force flies 30 different kinds of airplanes. That’s good for the airplane industry, not so good for the rest of us who have to pay for them. Twenty different planes wouldn’t have been enough?

Once upon a time, this “old $250-a-month sergeant” (as he refers to himself) was in the Army and as a Stars and Stripes correspondent flew on B-17s over Germany. You know, Andy, we could have cut the number of planes in the WW2 Air Corps significantly if we hadn’t bothered with fighter escorts for those bombers.

Multi-role planes have their place. The F/A-18 is a shining example. But multi-role planes are, as a necessity, a compromise. Look at the A-10. It can’t do much besides KILL EVERYTHING ON THE GROUND. But it does that very, very well, saving many American lives in the process. The F/A-22 is being shoe-horned into the ground attack role as a means of justifying its existence. Now, at about a quarter of a billion dollars each, I imagine that the F/A-22 wouldn’t make Andy’s shortlist of good military investments. But it is meant to take the place of several single-role aircraft. Never mind that, even at the price, it won’t be very good at close air support even if some damn commander is fool enough to let it down where the ground pounders play. Maybe in Andy’s world things that do more do them better AND more cheaply?

The Pentagon doesn’t scrimp on the Navy either. Over the years, we built 69 battleships, even though battleships never did much except get sunk. The last one cost $3 billion. The good news is the Navy no longer uses battleships.

These are mothballed now, just rusting away.

Andy, besides getting the count wrong, seems to not have realized when the last US battleship was launched. 1944, Andy. And a couple of them served as recently as the 1991 Gulf War. How’s that for mileage? (I will simply ignore his claim that battleships weren’t ever good for much as sheer ignorance. Feel free to point out why I’m wrong and he’s right in the comments.)

We have nuclear submarines for sneaking up on enemies under water. One nuclear submarine costs $1.6 billion. We have 50.

DIVE. DIVE. They don’t dive in sand.

I guess the point he’s getting at is that nuclear subs can’t actually patrol the streets of Fallujah. I’m not really sure. Maybe he doesn’t think we need a navy? Maybe he’s not sure what a navy’s for? Maybe he doesn’t realize what subs actually do? In any case, he certainly seems to miss the point that particular missions require particular types of equipment at particular times.

The Army has 8,000 Abrams tanks. How effective was one of these $3 million vehicles in Baghdad?

In the video, he shows us pictures of what’s apparently a burning US tank while he says this. I guess unless your weapon system is 100% effective at all times against all enemies and 100% invulnerable to all things, it doesn’t cut the mustard in Andy’s Army. Also not lost on me is the irony of immediately following criticism of subs because they cannot operate in the deserts of Iraq with criticism of M1 tanks. (He apparently needs to have his dosages checked.)

The most effective weapon we have in war is still that poor dogface crawling forward on his stomach with a rifle in his hand.

I’ll avoid the obvious reply to this by not asking what good a poor dogface rifleman is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, at 25,000 feet in the air, or at 2,000 feet below the surface of the sea. I’ll also just mention in passing the fact that he’s claiming our entire military depends more or less exclusively on the same foot soldier that he claimed was not worthy of the tag ‘hero’ last time I mentioned the esteemed Mr. Rooney on MO.

Andy Rooney apparently thinks we need more foot soldiers and fewer planes, fewer ships, and fewer tanks.

Seems to me that everyone has tried that before. 1914 seems about right. Didn’t really work out so well. Especially for the poor dogfaces.

I’m sure Andy doesn’t mean we should return to those bad old days. But I’m not sure I know what he DOES mean.

Yes, he plays the old trick of wondering aloud if it wouldn’t be nice to spend the money we used on Stealth Bombers and Abrams tanks to pay for teachers or for interpreters instead. That’s a fair question, I guess. If you’re into hackneyed debates of utter banality, I guess you can dive in. (For the record, if everyone would just be nice, we could spend all the money we currently waste on police officers for more welfare dollars. But that’s beside the point.)

So what’s Andy getting at?

Apparently, besides the poor dogface, the only weapon he likes is the nuclear bomb. I guess because it works in the sand.

One reason that Andy might like the nuclear bomb is because of its deterrence value. I don’t really know any other really good reasons to like nuclear bombs. (And never mind that we only used two of the thousands and thousands we’ve made.)

But isn’t the best return on your military dollar the ability to retire the weapons unused? He showed us some shots of a boneyard filled with retired planes. Would he have been happier of more of those planes had seen combat? Last week I noted that the Phoenix missile was retired without ever having scored a kill. Only a couple were ever fired in combat. Would Rooney rather that most of the 5,000 built had been used? That would have meant the Rooskies were taking potshots at our carriers. Would the world be a better place if we had been able to better utilize our stockpile of Phoenix missiles?

He doesn’t like subs? But he likes nuclear bombs. I wonder what he thinks about nuclear missile subs, then. Without those, I imagine things would have been quite different. But as far as Rooney’s concerned, we don’t even need a navy.

I’ll be the first to say we don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to military procurement, and if you read this site with any regularity you’ll know that already. And it seems that often the poor dogface IS short-changed while major programs command the big bucks. But Rooney is criticizing a pretty wide range of things without (apparently) understanding the first damn thing about them.

And this passes the smell test and makes it into what was once the most-respected news program in America.

(You may have noticed more than the usual Murdoc snarkiness in this post. My first attempt at it, which I’ll readily admit was far, far better than this, was lost forever due to some error or another while posting. After actually heading to off bed in disgust, I decided to try again. I hope it was worth the effort.

And no disrespect to dogfaces. I’m simply using Rooney’s term of endearment.

For that matter, I wonder if any current or former dogfaces would care to comment on Andy’s theories. Comments are open.)


  1. OK, I was laughing at Rooney after reading your post. I was angry at him after watching the video. All the things you talk about make him sound, well, senile. I can’t imagine anyone with a well grounded personal reality would say out loud the things he said. However, him implication that we need to spend more money on soldiers, instead of spending it on the gear and weapons they use I found offensive. The concept that we should use ground soldiers (even soldiers with body armor!) to accomplish the goals that tanks and bombers now accomplish should be offensive to anyone that has any compasion for the well-being of our soldiers. An F-15E is far more effective, and incurs far fewer casualties (on both side) destroying a target than does an armed foot penetration of the enemy, fighting in to the target, destroying it from the ground, then fighting out. I realize he had a point to make, something related to spending too much on defense, or spending it on the wrong weapon system. Perhaps Andy Rooney has a more clear view of the usefulness and effectiveness of our weapon systems than I do. But I doubt it. Claiming that it’s cheaper to buy warm bodies to throw at an objective than it is to buy a weapon to accomplish the same thing is a terrible thing to say, no matter how financially conscious you are.

  2. Just a few brief points. 1. Antietam Andy. Know what that was? 2. Why waste money on mine detectors when guys can hustle across the field and find them. Good enough for Stalin, good enough for me. 3. There is no fool like an old fool. Daniel Schorr has competition.

  3. Dear Murdoc, What the hell are you doing watching a See B.S. ‘news’ show? The only thing worth watching on that network is football. Everything else on it is designed for grumpy old leftists.

  4. KTLA: It’s really weird, since I’m sure that Rooney doesn’t really think all we need are ‘warm bodies to throw at an objective’. Given previous statements of his about Iraq, I imagine his position is really ‘we shouldn’t even be fighting’, but that’s not the angle or the point he went with on this. I decided not to hold other comments of his on other shows against him, and simply address piece this on its own merits. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have any.

  5. jones: ‘Good enough for Stalin, good enough for me.’ Nice one. Chris B: I didn’t actually watch the show. Give me a LITTLE credit. I saw a reference to Rooney’s remarks and looked up the transcript. The video of the segment is available there.

  6. Back when I used to watch CBS shows sometimes (before FOX was created), I considered AR the comic entertainment feature of the show. I’m sure there is some waste and overlap in military procurement, and I find it strange that Boeing was awarded a big C-130 upgrade contract when it’s Lockheed’s plane (It had something to do with a lady’s daughter’s education, I’ve read.) But, that said, AR grossly oversimplified. Like Einstein once said: Some things can only be simplified so far. (or something like that). I don’t know if we need the FA-22, but it’s comforting to have it. BTW, did you see the article mentioning a soldier named Murdock? I meant to send it to you, but forgot. Eat your heart out! ;-)

  7. Battleships were made obsolete by aircraft carriers. There is a school of thought that the battleships built during WWII were a waste of resources; we would have been better off building more aircraft carriers. Prior to the arrival of aircraft carriers, though, battleships ruled the sea.

  8. Don’t battleships still prove useful in pounding targets near shore? I remember they were very useful in the first Gulf War, more cost effective than flying all the bombs in by aircraft if laser-guided precision is not required. Not saying that justifies their existence, but it was useful.

  9. Chuck & KTLA: Yes, battleships are no longer the queens of the fleet. Yes, carriers superseded them in WW2, and subs have since also passed them in most thinking. But the WW2 battleships were very very valuable. The older ones, though outdated by the 1940s, were STELLAR beach artillery. Even today, it would be hard to get that level of fire support from aircraft or missiles even if cost wasn’t an object. Although the amphibious landing threat in 91 was just a decoy to hold Iraqi forces in position, the big guns did get in a few shots. BBs also wrecked havoc in Lebanon and Vietnam. Speaking of schools of thought, there is one that advocates reactivating one of the battleships for just that purpose. I don’t know that I subscribe to it, but there certainly would be times when major stuff like that would be nice. As for the WW2 construction of BBs being a waste of resources, don’t forget that every US battleship launched in the WW2 era was laid down before Pearl Harbor. One more, the KENTUCKY, was laid down in 1942 but suspended after a couple of months to free resources for other projects. The ILLINOIS was laid down in 1945 and canceled later that year. By then resources weren’t much of a problem anyway, as the Imperial Japanese Navy was on the bottom of the ocean. So scrapping the effort to build battleships after Pearl Harbor would have wasted work that was mostly done by then anyway. Maybe halting work on one IOWA could have made a difference, but the others were close to complete. Hindsight shows that Billy Mitchell was right about planes and the navies of the world, but to cancel battleships to build carriers in the late 1930s would have gone against everyone’s thinking at the time. I’ll give the Navy a pass on that one. WW2 battleships provided great fire support and anti-aircraft platforms and, although the product of an earlier era, were still quite valuable to our efforts in both oceans. Thanks for the comments guys. Keep those card and letters coming!

  10. Legendary DoD reformer and weapons designer Chuck Myers writes: ‘Not sure where this conversation began but you may be interested to know that when ‘making the case’ for reactivation of the four Iowas in 1978-79, I designed and we had built what we called the ‘Interdiction Assault Ship’ which was an Iowa with the rear turret removed. We covered the hole with six inch steel and installed a vertical launch missile farm that projected up into a split skijump deck for STOVL operations, helos (today V-22s). All five inch guns were replaced with 155mm turrets. CONOPS was for the ship to act as a hot deck for various air ops. It had a rear deck elevator and coud house about eight Harrier sized aircraft below in the now hangar bay. It attracted a lot of attention and caused a Navy internal study of Battleship Battlegroups to compliment CV Battlegroups. It helped bring about the acceptance of reactivation but was later discarded (excuse was money). Guess how many CM were in the farm: 320!!!!! Plus six 16′ guns and lots of 155s. On a platform which could withstand any ordnance existing in the world. A WAR machine which also served as the command/control ship for the force. The hangar bay could also serve as the temporary home for hundreds of marines or SOF forces.. Had a six foot long model constructed which sat in the Pentagon for about ten years where it was viewed by folks who took the ‘tour’. Still a good idea.’ http://www.combatreform.com/chuckmyersBBG21interdictionassaultship.jpg http://www.combatreform.com/chuckmyersinterdictionassaultshiprear.jpg IJN Ise/Hyuga BBCV By: Daniel H. Jones ——————————————————————————– Prior to World War II several navies operated aircraft carriers or aircraft support ships. The three major powers, England, the USA, and Japan developed what came to be known as fleet carriers and gave much thought as to their most effective employment. From a glance at the ship listings it might seem that the aircraft carrier was the dominant force but this was not so. The ‘gun club’ element still dominated strategic thought in all three navies. Carriers were regarded as supporting ships to the battle line, providing scouting planes to locate the enemy and to launch strikes to ‘soften up’ the opposing fleet so they could be finished off by the battleships. Nowhere was the cult of the battleship as ‘queen of battle’ more strongly entrenched than in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Their strategic plan for fighting the U.S. Navy was to lure the American fleet across the Pacific for a great climactic battle in home waters. The total destruction of this invading force was to be accomplished by… the battleships, much as the Russian fleet was annihilated at the Battle of Tsushima. That the battleship was still predominant in IJN planning is supported by their commitment to the construction of the most powerful examples of the type ever built, the Yamato class. With the formation of the Kido Butai, (the Nagumo task force), the Japanese invented the carrier task force concept that proved so effective later in the war. Obviously there were many officers with advanced ideas regarding carrier aviation but they were still in the minority. In the IJN the ‘gun club’ still controlled planning and policy decisions. Ironically, the Japanese Navy was to prove the fallacy of this thinking with their preemptive strike on the USN battle line at Pearl Harbor. With no battleships available the USN was forced to shift their emphasis to the aircraft carrier as the center of a striking force, though they still continued to build a new generation of battleships. At the Battle of the Coral Sea neither fleet sighted the other, the entire battle being decided by carrier aircraft. At Midway, when four Japanese carriers were lost orders were issued to continue the operation. The battle fleet was to close and destroy the American ships. After a few hours of steaming towards Midway the orders were rescinded and the surface fleet withdrew. The lesson was obvious and could not be ignored. A surface fleet could not survive without carriers when facing a fleet that had them. The battleships were impotent in the face of this new threat. In the days following the debacle at Midway, the Japanese Navy frantically sought ways to make good their carrier losses. Some submarine tenders and seaplane tenders were available for conversion to carriers, (they had been designed with this in mind). Suitable liner hulls were taken over for conversion to light carriers. Most radical, especially in the eyes of traditional line officers, was the plan to take four battleships out of the battle line and modify them to operate aircraft. The Fuso, Yamashiro, Isa, and Hyuga were selected for this conversion which consisted of removing the aft two turrets and constructing a handling deck, hangers and two catapults. The decks would not be large enough for take off or for landing aboard so the aircraft would have to be catapult launched and be equipped with floats to land alongside and be hoisted aboard. A new type of fast seaplane, capable of both scouting and attack, was to be designed for these ships. Conversion began on the Ise and Hyuga but the planned work on Fuso and Yamashiro was held back pending testing results from the first two ships. Work on the seaplane, the ‘Norm’, went forward but very few were built. Neither Ise or Hyuga ever operated aircraft apart from some limited testing. There were never enough aircraft to equip the ships and there was also a shortage of trained pilots. In their only sortie in this configuration, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, both ships were part of the Ozawa decoy force and had no aircraft on board. Almost all of the carriers in this group were sunk but both Ise and Hyuga sustained only minor damage. After returning to home waters, both ships had their catapults removed. This was done to improve the arcs of fire for the center turrets. The IJN was now totally on the defensive and the concept of operating seaplanes on Ise and Hyuga was abandoned. Both ships remained anchored in home waters for the remainder of the war. Both were sunk at Kure Harbor in shallow water by air strikes from US navy carrier planes. In 1/700 scale Hasegawa has kits of this class in both versions, as a battleship, (Hyuga), about 1941 and as the unique BB/CV, (Ise), after conversion. This article will primarily concentrate on the Ise, the BB/CV version. This is one of the earlier efforts in the waterline series and has a number of omissions and inacuracies, mainly due to the need for many parts to be common to both kits. Too many compromises have been made for the sake of ease of production but most can be dealt with. Bridge levels and platforms are essentially correct for the Ise and apart from cleaning up and adding better parts and photo etch there is little to be concerned with here. (If you are doing the earlier battleship version some major rework is needed on the bridge). One omission should be added, the supporting legs of the underlying tripod structures that the platforms are built on. From the back and side of the bridge these legs are external and very visible. Locate the positions on each level and drill boles on each platform. When assembled, except for the top two levels, insert two lengths of plastic rod through the platforms down to main deck level. This will make a tremendous improvement in the appearance of the bridge structure. The main problem with the Ise is in the area of the catapults. Hasegawa has the catapults standing alone from the aft structure and this is wrong. A structure connects the catapults to the aft area and this will have to be added. It looks formidable but it is really quite easy to do. See the sketch drawings and the templates for guidance. Note also the forward legs of the aft tripod structure are exposed also. These can be added from plastic rod as was done for the aft side of the bridge. Masts, particularly the large mainmast, should be replaced with scratch built assemblies from plastic sprue or brass wire. Most of the splinter shields could be improved by replacing with Evergreen plastic strip. Gold Medal Models makes a photo etch sheet, IJN Battleships, that contains the lattice supporting structure around the funnel as well as two catapults. Adding this will improve the model very noticeably. The supports under the aircraft deck edges are solid triangles of plastic on the kit. These are individual strut supports on the ship and can be improved upon by either replacing or by carving away the back side of the plastic. I prefer the latter method, see sketches. Also, at the stern, the supporting lattice structure is solid and has been simplified. This should be cut away and a scratch built replacement fabricated. This is the hardest job and there is really no short cut that I have discovered. You may opt to forget about doing this as the overhang hides much of the area when looking at the model from above. All of the guns can be improved by replacement from the Skywave weapons sets, particularly the 25mm which should come from set E-7. Some of the Skywave ship’s boats are nicer also. For railings, I recommend the Tom’s Model Works, two bar set. Aircraft: If you resolve to display aircraft on board or on the catapults, there is no ‘Norm’ available but testing was done with the Nakajima ‘Pete’ and with the Kawanishi ‘Jake’. Both types are available from the Skywave sets or from other kits in the waterline series. I would recommend replacing the Hasegawa ‘Jakes’ with other parts as they are a little crude in appearance compared to some of the other planes available. As you can see, some considerable investments in both time and money for extra materials are necessary to bring this kit up to speed. Whether it is worthwhile depends on how well you like the subject. Ise is one of my favorite ships, having built four models of her over the years in four different scales. If you do all of the suggested modifications and additions the results are very noticeable and the kit can look right at home with other ships in your collection. An old kit is not especially a bad kit, it just needs more work. http://www.geocities.com/equipmentshop/battleships.htm

  11. Ok, spend more money on the troops and equipment, that is a fair idea, but if this old fool thinks we should spend as much money on troops, as we do on aircraft, I have no idea what he thinks our soldier can have much more than a full mech-suit, a silly idea. Even if this was to be the case, that we could do this for the soldier, where would such equipment arise from? Interestingly enough large technonological advances, and thus also great economic benefits have come from inventions or developments, only possible due to large investments in the aero industry. This also includes medical equipment. You all probably know this, and also know this next fact: that all the crew survived that attack on the abrams tank, and thus it did indeed do exactly what it was designed for. Stupidity sometimes does come with age, i just pray i die in an aircraft before it reaches me too. Oh, and lol, a good idea, I’d like to see him go out and try to gather intelligence in the field as a soldier, instead of say an AWACS, RivetJoint, Global Hawk.. etc, all of which cost millions, but are worth 100 eyes. I think this guy has no idea how communication is relayed(even for people on the ground), of course… satellites and aircraft, which also happen to be very expensive. I’m not too sure that even the footsoldier would be too pleased with this guys plan for military spending.