You would think that with the new emphasis on catching up with the Soviets, everyone at the Pentagon would be overjoyed. This is not so. The generals and admirals in charge of developing new sophisticated weapons are thrilled. But the officiers who must train military personnel to use them are worried sick.
A recent Defense Department study revealed that 25 percent of all recruits in the three major services, after testing, had to be classified in the "low intelligence category." This means they could hardly read the instruction manuals that accompany the complicated weapons, much less understand how to fire them.
It has become painfully clear that even if we get all the new hardward that President Carter wants, the chances of a large number of our troops being able to understand how to use them will be minimal.
"Good news, colonel. The XM-1 tank has just arrived."
"Very well, sergeant. Instruct your crews on how to use it."
"Yes sir . . . All right now, you chowderheads, hear this. This is the new XM-1 tank. It weighs 40 tons and can fire laser-guided missiles as well as artillery shells. Are there any questions?"
"Sarge, what's a tank?"
"A tank is an armored vehicle, capable of traversing any kind of terrain, and having the ability to destroy buildings, bunkers and people. It can go either forward or backward. It is the most feared weapon in ground warfare."
"Does it have an engine in it?"
"Yes, Klaus. That's what makes it go. I think the best thing to do is have you get into the tank and work it yourself. Here's the manual and the key to the ignition. I'll talk to you by radio. The range is over there where those large targets are. In order to aim at the target, you push the red button on the control panel, then sight the gun with the green button above the temp gauge and, finally, fire the gun by moving the safety lock to 9 o'clock and the trigger mechanism to 12 o'clock, without taking your foot off the accelerator. Okay, you four over there, get into the tank and let's try it.
"Are you set? Start up . . . Okay, move out. No, Slocum, drive toward the range . . . Slocum, you just knocked down the PX building."
"Hey, sarge, this is fun."
"Slocum, aim your turret toward the targets. What button are you pressing?
"This one, sarge."
"Slocum, don't fire. you're aiming at the officer's mess. oh, no. you JUST KNOCKED OUT THE SECOND FLOOR."
"Wow, sarge -- I wasn't even aiming at it. There laser guns are terrific."
"Come back, Slocum. No, Slocum don't back into the ammunition shack. Put the stick in drive, not reverse. Never mind -- it's too late. Come back and we'll go over it once again."
"How's it going, sergeant?
"Just fine, colonel. The men really like the new tank."
"Good. You better move your men out right away. Eye Company just got its new electronic-firing helicopter and wiped out F Company. We have no idea where they'll hit next. The whole base is on the alert."
"Yes, sir. Maybe this would be a good time to hold the remedial reading class."
"You better cancel it. The Navy just destroyed the base school with the new M-20 Cruise missile they got yesterday."