Higgins, Halliburton and Brooks
SEC. RUMSFELD: Long after World War II had ended, Dwight Eisenhower named the man he believed to have won the war for America, and it wasn't a famous general, but a naval engineer named Andrew Higgins. Eisenhower said if Higgins had not designed and built those boats, the whole strategy of the war would have had to be different. One cannot know which decisions made today will make the difference in future conflict, but one can be sure that they'll affect American strategy for decades to come. Our responsibility is to minimize the limits we place on future strategies, maximize the flexibility we make possible, because tomorrow's threats are certain to be significant and unpredictable...Um, one thing. Before we built Higgins boats what did we do? Did we march soldiers into the water at Dover hoping that they would make it to Normandy? Good God, this is a stupid analogy.
Q: One question on the armor issue: I want to go back -- use your example of the Higgins boats and capability-based planning. What connects the case of the Higgins boat to this war where up-armored humvees, interceptor vests and side-plate armor? Obviously there is a controversy now that there is a shortage of that armor.
Mr. Secretary, was there any failure in capabilities-based planning in terms of the Iraq war for individual soldier equipment and vehicles; i.e., planning for an unforeseen adversary’s capabilities?
GEN. PACE: The short answer is no.
GEN. PACE: The longer answer is Higgins boats were designed in between wars, and when it turned out that that was what was needed, the country built a lot of them.
SEC. RUMSFELD:And fashioned a strategy to use them, as I pointed out.
GEN. PACE: Up-armored Humvees and the SAPI protection were designed before the war, and as we got into the war, the Congress of the United States provided the resources, and we have built literally beyond 700,000 flak jackets right now have been produced since the beginning of the war. There are 40,000-plus armored vehicles.
You don't need better body armor to send soldiers into war, but it's the smart thing to have as soon as possible, hence the Army's choice to sign a $70 million emergency contract for more body armor.
Now, I'm not a Marine general who one would expect to know a thing or two about, say, amphibious landings, but I'm pretty sure that boats would be needed when you're sending people across the English Channel.
Something else that makes the Higgins story a bit different than today? Unlike David H. Brooks, the big Republican donor who more than likely will be indicted for insider trading and gave the military faulty body armor and the criminal, corrupt fuckers at Halliburton whom Republicans have refused to investigate, Higgins was an honest-to-God patriot in the best sense of the word.
He fought unionization bitterly, but when it was forced on him, he became labor's biggest wartime champion. He scandalized the segregated South by giving black workers responsible jobs and paying them the same as white workers. He pioneered equal pay for women, the disabled, the elderly--any worker he could find who hadn't been drafted. What profits he made went back into the business. He once demanded a Navy contract be renegotiated downward because he was making too much money while American boys were dying.