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United States Government The Military Politics

USAF Counter-Terror Funds Buy "Comfort Capsules" 429

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-buy-toys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports, 'The Air Force's top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on "comfort capsules" to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world ... Air Force documents spell out how each of the capsules is to be "aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule," with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.' Congress told the USAF twice that they could not spend the money on this frivolous project, but they did it anyway."
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USAF Counter-Terror Funds Buy "Comfort Capsules"

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  • by introspekt.i (1233118) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:24PM (#24254627)
    Pork anyone?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by davolfman (1245316)
      To be honest I'm fine with pork. Pork gets spent locally. From an economic standpoint I think every dollar the military spends on pork is probably a dollar that isn't getting blown up in a foreign country or payed to some sort of foreign contractor.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're neglecting the other alternative:
        Don't collect the money that will eventually be spent on pork.

        Then its definitely local.

      • by raehl (609729)

        By that logic, we should dramatically increase the budget of the Department of Window Breaking.

        Or the Department of Hole Digging and Filling.

        Money that gets spent locally - but for which we get no benefit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'd prefer pork not getting spent by the government at all. Then I can buy myself some local goods that I want.

    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:52PM (#24255429) Homepage

      We're talking about high-level military executives here. Guys who have to make Really Big Decisions.

      Now let's say you have one of these Generals in Washington, and they need to go to Iraq.

      How do you get them there?

      Do they fly commercial? Probably not very regular commercial service from DC to Baghdad.

      So you fly them military.

      Now, do you fly them in the jump seat of a cargo plane?

      That might work for your average soldier, but do you really want the guy in command of all your forces arriving somewhere absolutely tired? Do you want to provide them with a work area for the 12-24 hours they're going to be in the air?

      Regular troops have the luxary of not having to go straight from getting off the plane to directly into the battlefield. Generals are high-level decision-making executives who have to be effective all the time.

      Capsules give those personnel a work-area where they can be productive on planes, and a sleep area so that when they do get wherever they're going, they're not running on a day of no or crappy sleep. There's a reason that in the commercial sector businesses pay thousands of dollars for business class seats that employees have a chance to sleep in isntead of hundreds of dollars on a coach seat. If they're flying their staff to someplace, it's important, and they don't want their staff operating on poor rest when they arrive.

      So, what makes more sense: Spending millions of dollars on aircraft for moving around top military personnel, or spending tens or hundreds of thousands on some pods that can convert any standard-issue cargo plane into a flying office?

      Give the guy in charge of keeping 150,000 people in Iraq alive a bed and a desk when he's got to spend 20 hours in the air. That's not a waste of money. And it sounds like building pods might actually be the least expensive way to provide those facilities.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:12PM (#24255597)

        If we send the guy right to the front line, I'm all for your idea. With more top level Generals where the fighting is, we'll probably have fewer wars in the long run.

        Thinking about it, we could send some hothead politicians there, too!

      • by Devout_IPUite (1284636) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:17PM (#24255645)

        I seriously hope you're joking...

        Bed, table, okay...

        But: beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror... That's 20 inches more than you need on your monitor, a lot more mirror than you need, and definitely more couch than you need. How about you give them a bed, small table, and spend the rest on the troops.

        • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @04:08PM (#24256029)

          That's 20 inches more than you need on your monitor

          More Screen = More Data Displayed = More better work.

          and a full-length mirror

          When your profession requires a uniform or suit with a strict attention to detail that seems like a given for someone highly paced in such organizations.

        • by Gorobei (127755) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @05:50PM (#24256711)

          A high-level air force officer can easily waste 5 or 6 hours a week trying to get a good hookup with his secretary.

          This fuck-capsule idea is brilliant, and cost-saving to boot. It's got the bed, the porn-screen, and the full-length mirror. Just need a carry-on for the DVDs, lingerie, and booze.

          This is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that made me happy to vote Bush the last two elections.

        • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @06:08PM (#24256813)

          beds, couch, tables, even mirrors are all pretty cheap... Even a 37" flat TV is justified because these are pretty cheap and you need news/data in the air for 12+ hours. The idea of a box they can stuff in a cargo plane to add just 1 office rather than chartering a separate passenger plane is also a good thing.

          But the whole point is that they won't buy "hotel" grade stuff like all these business hotels buy up for $100/nite business-class rooms, they'll have each unit with custom, high-end everything inflating the price to executive office levels... and the pod will be assigned by ranks, jobs, so they won't be "common use" they'll be flown around EMPTY most of the time to get the Pods to the "appropriate" people.

      • by Maxmin (921568) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:50PM (#24255899)

        You don't join the military for a life of luxury, you join to serve your nation. Luxury accommodations are out-of-scope. A poor example for those under your command, and a bad precedent for where the U.S. command is headed.

        The question isn't jump-seats versus a luxury suite. First-class airliner seats [ebay.com], six to ten grand, and that they already have. Mil-spec, hardened laptops [industcomputing.com], five, six grand, standard equipment. Good quality food and drink, gronk.

        Multi-million dollar traveling accommodations? Quit the government, join the corporate world, and earn your way up to rewards that come from generating profits, not being a tax-paid decision-maker. The senior officers I've admired most are the ones who drive their own cars, and don't try to lead the pampered life on the taxpayers' dime.

      • by freesword (229791) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @05:24PM (#24256545)

        There are other possible legitimate uses for something like this as well.

        It could be used for secure and clandestine meetings with foreign VIPs. Some don't take well to sacrificing comfort and ostentation in the name of secrecy. This would allow such meetings to remain secret without ruffling feathers.

        Say for example said VIP is meeting with a foreign head of state (or other high profile figure). The meeting needs to be top secret (no publicity or press knowledge). Said foreign VIP goes to visit airbase (US plane with our VIP and comfort pod is there waiting). While out of site of press in secure area, hops into Comfort Pod which looks like generic cargo container and is loaded into plane. Plane takes off and flies around for meeting to maintain security then returns to airbase. Foreign VIP is happy with comfort level and feels special while security is maintained.

        VIP aircraft stand out. A cargo plane on a military airbase does not. When you don't know whether or not the other side is watching, make it harder for them to spot what they are looking for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Viadd (173388)

        So, what makes more sense: Spending millions of dollars on aircraft for moving around top military personnel, or spending tens or hundreds of thousands on some pods that can convert any standard-issue cargo plane into a flying office?

        Except that if you RTFA, these things cost more than a million dollars each ($7.6M for 7, assuming no further overruns). They spent $68,240 just to change the leather seat upholstery from brown to blue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GeckoAddict (1154537)
        While that's a perfectly reasonable and logical response, it's completely irrelevant. The issue is not the fact that they want to have these nice pods, it's the fact that they wanted to use money specifically given to them with the explicit purpose of using it for counterterrorism to do it. It's a more like your local city offical using the money your city got for a grant for new police equipment on cars and drivers for anyone in city hall. It's wrong, and it should be called out publicly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dave420 (699308)
        Work area & bed != Leather seats, 37-inch TV, etc. etc. You make good points, and I agree, but this is a bit more than a work area and a bed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Salgak1 (20136)
        Except there have been "comfort pallets" with regular airline seats, and have been for years.

        And there is an entire FLEET of VIP jets, from biz-jets up to 747-class birds for them to use.

        Converting a CONEX container to a flying office, with a couple of bunks and a worktable, that's reasonable. Even comm hookups make sense.

        But there's a massive difference between a comfortable work environment you can roll into the cargo bay of an airlifter, and this boondoggle. . read the details: 68K for change of ta

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by couchslug (175151)

        The cost/silliness is really the issue.

        The same goal for seating pallets could have been accomplished by modding heavy-duty pallets with reclining airliner seats and other accessories, and it could have been done "local manufacture" by any major AFB Fabrication flight.

        AAR Corp make most of the containers used for USAF air transport, and could have easily whipped up a "capsule" based on existing ISU container designs. It is basic fabrication, not brain surgery.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by db32 (862117)
        Congratulations. You managed to get a post defending the military +5 on slashdot. It is hard enough to do that when it is defending an action that IS important, let alone the comfort capsule.

        I imagine your assessment is at least mostly correct. I suspect that there was extra funds dumped into the luxury part that shouldn't have been. And then also that whole being told no you can't use that money for it.
  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:24PM (#24254629)
    I've read several articles and I still have no clue what the hell a "comfort capsule" is. Is it a whole plane? Is it an add-on to a plane? Is it one of those napping pods like you can find here [primidi.com]? Am I alone in this one?
    • RTFA mate? (Score:5, Informative)

      by atari2600 (545988) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:26PM (#24254663)

      Production of the first capsule -- consisting of two sealed rooms that can fit into the fuselage of a large military aircraft -- has already begun.

      Air Force documents spell out how each of the capsules is to be "aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule," with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

    • Re:huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:29PM (#24254697)
      There are pictures in the link in the OP [washingtonpost.com]
    • Re:huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Loadmaster (720754) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:29PM (#24254701) Homepage

      It's just a unit loaded onto the plane. Former SecDef Rumsfeld had what was called the "Silver Bullet." It was a small oblong silver trailer type unit that was secured on top of pallets then loaded into the aircraft just like any other pallet train. Inside he had a desk, couch, TV (with sat) and a bed. Funny note, he takes his pants off while he's in there during flight. We, the flight crew, didn't get anything like that.

      • Re:huh? (Score:4, Funny)

        by megaditto (982598) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:50PM (#24254891)

        We, the flight crew, didn't get anything like that.

        Well, you weren't the ones selling your soul to the devil. The man needs to be compensated somehow.

      • Re:huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Oswald (235719) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:31PM (#24255239)

        Funny note, he takes his pants off while he's in there during flight.

        Sad note, the older men get, the more sensitive their testicles get to pressure, and the more their mass drops into the part of the abdomen constricted by a belt. Business slacks become pretty uncomfortable for long periods of sitting. I'm 48, and I can already see where things are headed.

        Just something for you to look forward to (assuming you're male).

      • Re:huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:11PM (#24255585)

        ...the flight crew, didn't get anything like that

        No kidding. When I was in the army (early 80's) we flew on an air force C-130 from Frankfurt to Crete.
        The 'seats' were just web straps.
        The 'facilities' was a small, rectangular urinal (I assume it just flowed to the outside).
        I'm not sure what you are supposed to do if you need to take a crap on a long, slow flight.

        Has that improved any recently? It just seems like common sense to have a real bathroom. At the very least you don't want the pilot distracted by a large load he can't dump.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dun Malg (230075)

          When I was in the army (early 80's) we flew on an air force C-130 from Frankfurt to Crete. The 'seats' were just web straps. The 'facilities' was a small, rectangular urinal

          C-130's haven't changed at all, of course. They're still the 1950's cracker boxes they've always been. I flew 14 hours on a C-141 to Saudi back in 1990 for Desert Storm. Sling seats, sitting with your knees interlocked with the person across from you... nightmare [att.net]. In 2001 I got to make almost the same flight on a C-17... quite a difference [wikimedia.org]. You can walk down the center! It has a real aircraft lavatory! The seats... well, the seats are still sling seats, but they're much better designed with a more sophisti

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Funny note, [Donald Rumsfeld] takes his pants off while he's in there during flight. We, the flight crew, didn't get anything like that.

        Yeah, we didn't get 70-year old male strippers in the Navy, either.

    • Re:huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zeinfeld (263942) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:53PM (#24254921) Homepage
      The comfort capsule is essentially a module that they can load into the plane the same way they would load a shipping container. So they can convert a military cargo plane into a private jet for the top brass.

      I read the article yesterday and was disgusted. I suspect that we are going to see more than a few careers end over it. Every military promotion above a certain level has to be ratified by the Senate. Once the generals behind this boondoggle are identified they are going to find they don't see another promotion.

      • Re:huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:52PM (#24255427) Journal
        So they can convert a military cargo plane into a private jet for the top brass...
        ...and certain civilians, like maybe Senators. No one in Congress or the Air Force brass is loosing any sleep over this. They just have stall until the next affront to the average tax paying citizen overshadows this one. Then the media/public pressure is off and the can go enjoy their fancy new hotel-room-in-a-plane. Trying to get any accountability out of today's government requires that you let ten offenses slide by, just you can finish addressing one offense. Good luck with that in today's ADD-like, sound bite ridden, OMG Amy Winehouse is a post-op transvestite!!11!
        What were we upset about again?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Teancum (67324)

        Yeah, every military promotion above a certain level has to be ratified.

        That is everybody at or above the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and Ensign (O-1).

        Most of these are read off at the end of each daily congressional session and ratified without even a voice vote (the Senate chair says something like "are there any objections?" and then considers the appointment to be ratified), and there are some noted exceptions for things like battlefield promotions, but every military officer does get "confirmed" by the Sena

  • How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quarrel (194077) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:24PM (#24254633)

    How does this happen?

    Who's actually in charge of how they spend it? Is it not Congress?

    If Congress says no, is this a "we think that's frivolous, bad dog, no biscuit", is it a "you will be breaking the law", or are congressional meetings about this stuff just for fits and giggles?

    --Q

    • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:29PM (#24254705)

      In Pelosi's House, it results in a sternly-worded letter.

    • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:46PM (#24254839)

      some military types have no respect even for the constitution or their own rules of conduct ( http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/07/08/atheist.soldier/index.html [cnn.com] ), so what makes you think they'll listen to congress when it comes to spending money on luxuries for themselves?

      • Re:How? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jubedgy (319420) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:48PM (#24255881)

        Coming up on the end of my 7th year in the Navy, and I can't recall any instances of religious discrimination. I'm an agnostic myself, and in my experience people just "do" (ie, complain about) their jobs regardless of their affiliation with Atheism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, Wicca, etc...

        Personally, I found the evidence presented in that article to be fairly weak. When asked to sit somewhere else at Thanksgiving, was it because he was being obnoxious about his belief rather than just sitting there silently while other people did their thing? How is being asked if he believed in Jesus after a near death experience evidence of discrimination?

        I've had hours and hours of training in religious tolerance and whatnot, I can't imagine that the Army is much different. But this is America, so if people want to make fun of his atheism, he's more than welcome to make fun of their prostrations to FSM so long as it does not affect anyone's job, evidence of which I did not see in that article.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by budgenator (254554)

          I ran into one instance back arround 1978 or 79, none since and I retired in 1998. The Military is big and diverse, you'll run into anything you'll run into in society there yet for the most part the military is more progressive than society in general.

    • Watch Yes Minister (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:49PM (#24254873) Journal
      Or rather, the sequel, Yes Prime Minister.

      It should be mandatory viewing because among other things it shows how little real power politicians have.

      After all, how long does a general serve compared to a senator? And the general doesn't have to fight a war every 2 years and defeat his rivals.

    • by Animats (122034) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:59PM (#24254969) Homepage

      Congress has full control over spending. "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law." - U.S. Constitution, Article 1, section 7.

      Congress can exercise detailed control over spending when they so choose. Sometimes bills will contain language like "No federal funds shall be expended upon...", and that's binding on the executive branch. It's not unusual for Congress to explicitly turn off some project in this way.

  • by Humorless Coward. (862619) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:24PM (#24254639)
    Would this be anything different from the way money is being spent on irrelevant "security measures" at public transportation access points?
  • One holds white meat from self-indulgent hogs, the other holds pork.
  • WTFOMGBBQ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:26PM (#24254669) Journal
    I was worried that these capsules might leave our betters and brass fatigued when they arrived at their destinations, until I saw that the vulgar and degraded brown leather had been replaced with suitably dignified blue, and the wooden fittings replaced with cherry, restful to the eyes and mind of the higher orders. The DVD player, also, will be of incalculable military utility, I have no doubt.

    Seriously, I can understand the logic of having people be able to sleep on the flight, so as not to waste time at the destination; but how could anybody possibly justify this level of ostentation(or, for the amoral weasels who just don't care, how could they possibly believe that they could get away with this level of ostentation(erm, besides a quick assessment of what people have been able to get away with these days, that is, never mind about that one))?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by El Cubano (631386)

      but how could anybody possibly justify this level of ostentation(or, for the amoral weasels who just don't care, how could they possibly believe that they could get away with this level of ostentation(erm, besides a quick assessment of what people have been able to get away with these days, that is, never mind about that one))?

      Basically, just about every political appointee and other federal elected official thinks (rightly or wrongly) that he/she is entitled to better than first-class treatment when the

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        (Imaging riding for 8 hours in a C-17 sitting on a jump seat like a paratrooper instead.)

        I'd rather do that than deal with the anal-probing TSA officers that we get to contend with when we fly civil aviation.

        In fact, I'll bet that some of the people in congress who sought to deny the Air Force the permission to spend the funds that way are some of the very same people who have complained or berated Air Force crews about the accommodations.

        That still doesn't justify the military ignoring a lawful mandate from Congress. Particularly when we are fighting two wars and running up massive deficits to do so. I don't know how much these things cost but I do find it pretty disgusting that the USAF is going to spend money on them when we are having problems getting enough equipment (body armor anyone?) to our troops on the ground.

  • by shiftless (410350) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:26PM (#24254673) Homepage

    ...doesn't surprise me at all

    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:32PM (#24254745) Homepage Journal

      Nor does it surprise me that Congress told them they couldn't to it, yet Congresscritters have NO problem spending tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on expensive travel and live quite ostentatiously while doing so. Case in point: Barack Obama's 'fact finding tour', funded by taxpayers. It's just a campaign trip and the costs for security and the nice living he and his three press secretaries (Couric, Williams, and Gibson) will enjoy while along for the ride will all be paid by people like you and me.

      • so ? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by unity100 (970058)
        i dont see the point here. your president, secretary of state, commission members in senate all HAVE to do such trips, and they do it. its necessary to do that kind of travel when you are at the helm of anything important.

        barack obama, is a very high chance, your next president. EVEN if he is not, he is practically the top democrat in the nation, and therefore can probably replace any other democrat in their duties, being the leader of the party that holds the majority in the congress.

        you better be fu
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:28PM (#24254689) Homepage

    The USAF doesn't report to Congress. Since their Commander in Chief treats Congress like a jizz rag, it's unreasonable to expect anyone in the armed forces to show them any respect. They won't cut budgets, and the most that they every do is write Sternly Worded Memos, or go running to the courts like little snivelling bitches, wailing "Pretty please make everyone obey the law."

    I swear, the USA is one lost staring contest away from a bloodless military coup. I mean, if it hasn't already happened. How would we tell the difference?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      In a coup, the existing rulers are thrown over, aren't they. Does anyone have an idea what the existing rulers where then ;) As you say, it's hard to tell the difference.
  • by unassimilatible (225662) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:29PM (#24254703) Journal
    What about fluoride filters for the generals' water? Did you ever think of that?
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:31PM (#24254725) Homepage
    Did anybody else read the headline and think cyanide pills?
  • by denzacar (181829) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:39PM (#24254789) Journal

    "comfort capsules"..."aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule," with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

    Dear USAF,
    For the last time - NO, you CAN NOT use taxpayers money to fund your personal fuck-rooms.
     
    Sincerely yours,
    US Congress

    Lt. Col. Brilliant: "General, I have an idea! Lets call them "comfort capsules" instead."
    Gen. Protection Fault III: "Comfort capsule...? CC... umm... catchy... BRILLIANT Brilliant! Write that down and start ordering. I'll be in my f... in my comfort capsule."

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:47PM (#24254851)

    You pay me $16.2 million.
    I go down to the local RV salesman and buy a couple 30-foot travel trailers [dutchmen-rv.com].
    I spend another couple thousand to paint UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on the side.

    You roll 'em right into your planes and lash 'em down.

    I pocket $16.0 million.

  • by Barkmullz (594479) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:54PM (#24254931)

    Obvious question:

    Does the comfort capsules come with a companion cube?

  • Fire Them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @01:59PM (#24254959) Journal
    So congress told the Air Force not to guild these things, twice, and they went ahead and did it anyway? Obviously, the Air Force thinks it is in charge. Now, either congress has to discipline them, harshly, or the Air Force really is in charge. If the Air Force is in charge, then you've got the beginnings of a military state on your hands.
    • Re:Fire Them (Score:4, Insightful)

      by monopole (44023) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:36PM (#24255295)

      ...then you've got the beginnings of a military state on your hands.

      Um, you've not been following the news much. We're in the degenerate luxury phases of a military state at this point. We've already hit the point of comfort women [dailymail.com]. Nothing surprises me now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        We've already hit the point of comfort women [dailymail.com]. Nothing surprises me now.

        Oh give me a fucking break. You are comparing three women who were raped by their co-workers to the Japanese comfort women [wikipedia.org] of WW2? Were those women kidnapped by our military and forced into that role with the approval of our Government? No? Then it's a bullshit comparison and little better than a bad Nazi reference [wikipedia.org].

  • Hypocrisy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sniper98G (1078397) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:17PM (#24255097)
    I find it kind of odd that congress told the Air Force that when a four star general flies to the AOR they cannot make use of a higher class accommodation on board a military aircraft but whenever a member of congress flies their they get their own personal high class commercial aircraft. I'm not saying that the Air Force is right here, I don't think any of our public servants should be getting first class rides at taxpayer expense.
  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:18PM (#24255105)
    It's not only a waste of money, it's horrible leadership. Any officer in the military pushing for this kind of thing should be immediately railroaded out of the military - being a good military leader and seeking this kind of fluff are absolutely mutually exclusive. Some pig high ranking General lavising in luxury while ordering people to risk their lives and live in cramped air carrier quarters is fucking disgusting.
  • Wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:20PM (#24255125)
    What about war is comfortable exactly? And why are we trying to shield officers and civilians from reality (even further)? Why isn't this being spent on the comfort and (psychological/physical) well being of our troops?
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:51PM (#24255425)

    Reading from the story, the original idea was good but things got out of hand when people start deviating from the original objectives. The Air Force saw that there was a growing need for top brass and government officials to work and rest on long military flights. They have some planes for this purpose but in some areas for the world (and for security reasons), it would be more practical for these officials to fly on military transports like C-17s. Transports can be fitted to carry troops and personnel but they have the most basic of seats. So modules could be built and put into these transports like UPS or Fedex modular containers but are not made for packages but personnel.

    With the idea of a traveling office in mind, some basic elements are probably necessary. Chairs and table for work. Bed for sleep. The module should probably be sound proof/vibration proof as much as possible because these transports have no shielding from either. For communications, the module might need to be plugged into the airplanes communication or its own separate feed. The module probably requires some modest power for equipment. Everything should be bolted down for obvious reasons.

    After basic requirements, then it got out of hand. Certain generals wanted leather upgrades to match color. The chairs went from being standard commercial airline chairs to ultra-luxurious first class. TVs and DVD players were added. While a TV/monitor might not be a stretch if used to convey information (video uplinks), it is frivolous if used for entertainment.

  • by jamrock (863246) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:21PM (#24255673)

    Generals and admirals are a peculiar breed, but USAF generals in particular seem to be afflicted with a sense of entitlement. It mostly appears to affect those officers typically derided as "careerists", whose personalities and actions are focused on their own advancement above all else, and once they reach general rank, they grab with both hands at the privileges denied more junior officers. That's when some of them begin to display genuinely eccentric behavior, as well as cultivating the attitude that no mere civilian can tell them what to do.

    I highly recommend that everyone here read "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War", Robert Coram's superbly-written and excellent biography of Col. John Boyd [wikipedia.org], the maverick officer whose theories reshaped the U.S. military's warfighting strategy. Boyd was one of the great original thinkers of the 20th Century. His Energy-Maneuverability Theory of aerial combat is the foundation on which all modern fighter jets were designed, and he has been called the father of the F-15, the F-16, and the F/A-18. He was also the creator of the OODA Loop [wikipedia.org], a decision-making tool with great utility to any organization, and is largely credited with devising the strategy that liberated Kuwait during the first Gulf War.

    The most interesting parts of the book to me, were those that dealt with Boyd's stints at the Pentagon, and the eye-opening look at the inner workings of the military bureaucracy. The comparisons of a general's staff to the "court of a pasha" are quite humorous, as well as the details of some of the eccentricities and personal foibles of some of the Air Force's (unnamed) senior officers of the time.

    - There was the general who decided that he didn't like the fact that all the stop signs at his command seemed "incomplete", so he ordered that the backs of all of them be painted brown;

    - For some reason, another couldn't abide facial hair, so none of his subordinates were allowed to grow a mustache (he couldn't legally enforce this requirement, but his authority was never challenged);

    - Then there's the one who would wear different uniform headgear throughout the day, and required his staff to follow suit for the sake of uniformity. His staff were never notified beforehand when he was going to change his hat, so they were all forced to bring to work all their headgear so they could change them at a moment's notice.

    - This is the one that killed me, and in my opinion this man had mental problems. This general was so determined to control who saw him that whenever he left his office, he'd press a button that flashed a red light in the outer office. This was the signal for the entire staff, including those walking the corridors around his command suite, to vacate the area and find themselves behind closed doors immediately. That way, when the great man emerged, he was met with absolutely empty offices and corridors and no plebes around to sully his presence with their eyes.

    I served in the Army, and even the greenest recruit could immediately spot the difference between the careerist officers, and those who put their responsibilities above all else. These were the men, including generals I've met, who bunked with their troops in the woods during wargames, stood in the chow lines and used the communal showers, along with everyone else. The careerists were those who segregated themselves from the enlisted men and more junior officers, and seemed more concerned with enjoying the perks that their positions allowed them. Three guesses which ones the troops would follow to hell. If the mindset and culture pervading the upper echelons of the Air Force is that of the careerist, it should come as no surprise that something as minor as "comfort capsules" was authorized in direct defiance of civilian oversight.

  • why don't (Score:3, Informative)

    by hansoloaf (668609) <hansoloaf&yahoo,com> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @04:09PM (#24256043)
    we put the wheels on these capsules.
    When the plane reaches flight altitude, open up the back and let the capsule slide out.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.

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