Trump’s relationships with both the truth and the troops have long been suspect, but sometimes the two get mixed together, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Recently, the President told troops aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp that when the United States puts in its next order for American warships, the catapults will not be modernized electric versions, but steam-powered ones that have “worked perfectly for 65 years.” That change would save the Pentagon hundreds of millions, which Trump would take credit for having saved, but would fail to bring Navy warships in line with current technology.
Trump called the upgrade “wrong”:
You know, they were saying — one of the folks said, ‘No, the electric works faster. But, sir, we can only get the plane there every couple of minutes.’ So, really, what they did was wrong. I think I’m going to put an order. When we build a new aircraft carrier, we’re going to use steam. I’m going to just put out an order: We’re going to use steam. We don’t need — we don’t need that extra speed.”
The conflict between steam and electromagnetic catapults — the mechanism by which aircraft are launched from the deck of a carrier — seems to be a sticking point for Trump. In 2017, a Time Magazine article quoted the President complaining about what he called “digital” catapults at the time, saying that troops would need to be “Albert Einstein” to figure out how to use them.
That, of course, says more about what he thinks of our troops’ intelligence levels than about the technology in particular, and perhaps paints him as somewhat of an old man resistant to change:
Steam’s only worked for about 65 years perfectly. And I won’t tell you this because it’s before my time by a little bit, but they have a $900 million cost overrun on this crazy electric catapult. They want to show — next, next, next. And we all want innovation, but it’s too much.”
That sounds a lot like my father-in-law arguing in 1981 that 8-track tapes would never be replaced, or the urban legend of Bill Gates telling a tech magazine that no home user would ever need more than 64 kilobytes of memory for their computer.
But hey, maybe Trump has a degree in mechanical engineering that he’s hidden as successfully as he’s stashed away his tax returns. It could be that the 5-deferment military expert knows more about Navy tech based on hunches than the folks behind the billions of dollars the United States does in research and development every year.
Of course, then we wouldn’t need warships at all, because everyone on the planet’s head would simultaneously explode.
Featured image via US Air Force
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