Flying with Flawed Wings
When I was a young Marine in 1988, I was disappointed that mechanical problems grounded the V-22 Ospreys that were supposed to extract my platoon [Oct. 8]. But a tried-and-true gunnery sergeant reassured me that we were better off not flying in an aircraft with so many problems. Perhaps the Bell and Boeing folks will come up with equipment that functions as required. We should have learned from the ill-equipped humvees in Iraq that there is no room for error and that we should never lose troops because of politicians' and contractors' greed. Osprey? More like Albatross.
Anthony Ramos Corpus Christi, Texas
Sending the flawed V-22 Osprey into Iraq for its debut stands to encourage insurgents even more. If the Osprey needs a third engine to support a .50-cal. swivel gun in front, it should have been engineered to accommodate one. Aviation and military safety continues to be written in blood, I see.
Gunnar S. Jenson, South Bend, Ind.
Thank you for the wonderful article concerning the flawed V-22 Osprey. When I was a Navy chaplain serving with a Marine battalion in the Vietnam War, I flew in the CH-46 Sea Knight on many operations. The CH-46 was capable of landing on uneven ground and in narrow jungle openings. Many of these rugged birds were full of holes and had great survivability. The V-22 Osprey will never be able to maneuver in the terrain that I encountered in 'Nam.
Chaplain Marvin Eyler U.S. Navy (ret.) Pasadena, Calif.
While many of the criticisms of the Osprey are justified, the conspiratorial rant about the military-industrial complex is misleading. I recently retired from the Army Reserves after nearly 12 years of service--including 14 months of deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom--and I have accumulated enough experience to recognize that military planners aren't going to approve a program that will kill service members. The Osprey is the sorely needed replacement for the CH-46, which entered service in 1964, some 43 years ago! There have been many more killed in accidents with this aircraft than the 30 killed during the development of the Osprey. The CH-46 should be in a museum.
Andy Frost, Moreno Valley, Calif.
The V-22 is doubtless a government debacle, but the media should really be ashamed. Yes, the accidents got some coverage, but the Osprey project has gone on for too long without a proper exposé. If the media gave half as much attention to the Osprey program as they gave to the contents of Anna Nicole Smith's stomach, the public might have demonstrated enough outrage to shut down the program. Your report is billions of dollars and 30 lives too late.
Kurt Padilla, Manchester, Conn.
The long, sad, unsafe, $20 billion V-22 Osprey is the perfect weapons platform for the long, sad, unwinnable, $300 billion war in Iraq.
Casey Kleinnorth Brunswick, N.J.
Anyone with experience in military aviation knows that there is no perfect aircraft--the almighty dollar (or lack thereof) demands compromise in the final product. In light of that reality, let's take Captain Justin (Moon) McKinney at his word and give the Marines a chance with the Osprey. I am confident that even with the less-than-ideal V-22, talented aviators like McKinney and others will find a way to come out smelling like roses. That's what they do. Godspeed to Moon and the rest of the Marines. May they all come home safely.
Don Kang, San Antonio
A'jad in the Big Apple
Joe Klein wrote a wonderful commentary about the excessive media attention Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received [Oct. 8]. Our obsession with that man has provided a distraction from our shortcomings in Iraq and allowed us to lose sight of our primary objectives in this war. It also prevents U.S. presidential candidates from discussing peace, for fear of seeming weak on national security. The buildup of Ahmadinejad culminated with the passage of the Kyl-Lieberman resolution in the Senate, which potentially gives President George W. Bush the ability to use military force to resolve conflicts with Iran. Yet again, Americans are being primed for a costly war that does not need to be waged.
Piruz Motamedinia, New York City
I have often admired Klein's thoughts, but in "Inflating a Little Man" he missed the mark by a mile. He wrote that Ahmadinejad's "words had no practical import, only symbolic, global import. He has very little real power in Iran." This leaves me incredulous because Ahmadinejad is the mouthpiece for the mullahs, who hold the real power in Iran. They hide behind him, sending him out in the world to do their dirty work, just as they send IED to Iraq to kill our soldiers. Ahmadinejad is the symbol of the very real poison emanating from Tehran. Symbols can be powerful and consequential and must be confronted.
Leonard Schwartzburd, Berkeley, Calif.
Ahmadinejad's incendiary rhetoric may seem harmless enough now, but we should remember that Hitlers don't become Hitlers unless they are underestimated and appeased. The Adolf Hitler of 1933 was much smaller than the 1944 version.
John Root, Grover Beach, Calif.
While Klein is right that the Columbia audience momentarily laughed at Ahmadinejad's remark that there are no homosexuals in Iran, he conveniently omitted mention of the applause throughout the speech. Klein's commentary adds to Ahmadinejad's good run in recent weeks: an invitation to speak at a prestigious university, prominent platforms from which to spew his propaganda and now Western "intellectuals" minimizing the danger and challenges he poses to the world community. Ahmadinejad may be no Hitler, but nuclear arms in the hands of fanatics who have no compunction about setting them off among civilian populations is not something to be taken lightly. I became aware of terrorism at the age of 9 when I was jarred awake by a bomb going off outside my home, so I have a small appreciation for it.
Ramana Sonty, Tenafly, N.J.
I spent the last two weeks of August in Israel, and while some people in this country may laugh at Ahmadinejad, Israelis take very seriously his threat to wipe Israel off the map. Perhaps when people are within firing range of Iranian missiles, they develop a different point of view.
Ross H. Stemer, Roswell, Ga.