This is probably the worst image I’ve posted, likely due to the small market for the irrelevant weapon I’m writing about.

While listening to a talk by Alan Millett on the period before the Korean War, he mentioned a phrase often used there: “Golden Axe.” It was to indicate a pretty, but absolutely useless weapon.

Similarly, I’ve heard General Mattis (of the USMC), while speaking at the OSU Mershon Center for Security Studies, caution the US military to avoid being “dominant, but irrelevant.” I think the “Golden Axe” metaphor fits.

Lastly, Ralph Peters, while speaking at the Pritzker Military Library on December 1, 2007, addressed this issue when he brought up his “Law of A-R-A.” He said that U.S. military weapons must be appropriate to the likely mission, and not “perfect” or too specialized. They must be robust to the extent that they don’t need an army of contractors to be fixed (thereby increasing the operations “tail”). Lastly, they must be affordable, especially in mass production quantity (not so detailed that production cannot be scaled up quickly and exponentially).

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