After WW2, a war that cost the lives of around 100 million people and caused the decimation of the major cities in Europe, China, and Southeast Asia, the U.S. realized that it had to play a proactive role to prevent the occurrence of WW3. To accomplish this monumental task, the U.S. knew that the establishment of the United Nations, the use of economic sanctions, and financial assistance would not be enough to stop the nation's territorial disputes, ideology intolerance, and competition for natural resources from escalating into wars.
The only effective and proven measure to convince the offending parties is that diplomacy and negotiation are the best solutions or to be ready to face overwhelming military intervention. The U.S. with its vast natural and intellectual resources and with its people living in a democratic and free society is in a unique position to develop the world’s most powerful military forces and at the same time, to utilize this power wisely.
After the U.S. entered the war in late 1941, it began to supply almost all the weapons used to fight the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. Those weapons included:
1) Half a million aircraft of various sizes and shapes,
2) Millions of jeeps, tanks, and personnel transports,
3) Tens of thousands of ships big and small, and
4) The first WMD was the atomic bomb.
Those weapons were designed and built with the ingenuity of the private industries. After the war, mass production was stopped, and the efforts were mainly on research and development of new and better weapons under the advisement and supervision of the government which was their one and only direct customer.
This unique partnership has continued to the present day, successfully, equipping the U.S. military with the most powerful and state-of-the-art weaponry on land and sea, in air and space. To achieve this peerless military might requires:
1) Huge yearly defense budget that reaches around $700 billion in 2014,
2) A stiff learning curve, and
3) Infrastructures that can only be accomplished in small steps with time-consuming efforts, and technical expertise in science and engineering.
Unlike the commercial product whose customer is the general public, whose design and manufacturing cost can be recovered and even turned a profit when the production quantity reaches a certain level, the military product’s customer is the government, and its design and limited production quantity have to satisfy the government’s unique and specific requirements.
These constraints make the cost of the product extremely high but all paid for by the taxpayers' money. Only a handful of well-established defense companies have the resources to compete to work on weapon contracts that are mostly fixed costs with a thin profit margin. During the peaceful time, the government needs to hand out research and development projects to keep those private companies in business and product improvements.
Most commercial products have a short market life of around 6 months to a year. The popular ones will be replaced with newer and better versions. The strategy is to beat the competitors to the market and the initial investment is directed more toward product advertisement and distribution. Only when a reasonable market share is attained, more investment will be put into manufacturing and research.
The military products are designed and built to last 15 to 20 years. Reliability, quality, and durability are the utmost important objectives. All products have to go through tests to ensure that each product will function under harsh environments, over extreme temperatures, and with operator abuse and be foolproof. These tests sometimes last more than a year.
For a sophisticated product like an aircraft, tank, or ship, the time it takes from design to deployment can consume more than 10 years. The defense contractors need to have all the necessary test facilities in place, test procedures in writing, and the test requirements properly documented before they are awarded the job.
The defense company employs workers with diverse areas of skills and experiences:
1) Scientist – who will do research in new technologies that will improve the efficiency, accuracy, and destructive power of the weapons,
2) Design engineer – who will implement the new technologies with designs that use available materials and achievable technological know-how,
3) Quality engineer – who will check and verify that all workmanships are performed according to the requirements and a set of approved standards,
4) Reliability engineer – who will analyze the product's design, materials used, and construction to derive a failure rate for the product's projected life expectancy,
5) Test engineer – who will perform and document the product’s tests according to the procedures and requirements,
6) Assembly worker – who will put the product together according to blueprints, schematics, and or written instructions using approved tools, exact and required procedures in a static and contamination – free station,
7) Manager – who will make sure that the contract is implemented with the right personnel, completed on time and within budget, etc.
New World Order
The U.S. relied on its experiences in fighting WW2 and never stops to build and improve on its war machines. While the rest of the world strived to recover from the ravages of the war, the U.S. was laying the foundation to possess the most powerful military force on Earth. It accomplished this mission by:
1) Having an incessant supply of qualified professionals recruited from the nation's educational system that emphasizes creative thinking and teamwork,
2) Investing in research and new product developments,
3) Painstakingly documenting in detail, the guidelines as to how the product shall be designed, tested, and built.
The result is that, during the past 70 years, the U.S. had been consistently turning out military weapons and supporting equipment that is not only reliable and durable but also with ever-increasing accuracy, efficiency, and destructive power. During this time, the U.S. had not hesitated to flex its superior military muscles to stop aggressions that it thought would threaten world peace and sometimes, impose its will and values on the rest of the world as it had demonstrated in Korea ,Vietnam, Persian, Iraqi, and Afghanistan wars.