The Pentagon Wars

The Pentagon Wars

"The Pentagon Wars" is a 1998 HBO film, starring Kelsey Grammer, Cary Elwes and Richard Schiff, based on a book of the same name.

The film tells of the test and evaluation phase of the troubled development history of the M2 Bradley fighting vehicle as described from the point of view of United States Air Force Lt. Col. James G. Burton who, in real life, chronicled this case in his 1993 book "The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard".


The book chronicles a broader history from the 1950s to the mid-1980s, encompassing the time when the "Reformer Movement" sought to bring The Pentagon equipment acquisition process to a requirements based system rather than the prevailing equipment based system that lent on supplier promises. The reformers were led, philosophically, by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd and Franklin C. "Chuck" Spinney, and went on to include members of both houses of the U.S. Congress. They were receiving input from disaffected members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marines. This largely uncoordinated group used the media to disseminate the true evaluations of equipment acquisitions that were going over budget and over time with lower than expected performance. Meanwhile, they created the atmosphere for the acquisition of useful equipment such as the A-10 Warthog and F-16 aircraft that were disliked by the 'establishment' Pentagon hierarchy.


The movie is loosely based on the real development of the Bradley. Many events shown in the movie never happened. For instance: At one point in the movie the vehicle is ordered by Israel which orders many improvements. In reality Israel never acquired the Bradley.

After final approval from the top brass, whose motives are not completely pure, the vehicle from which the M2 Bradley eventually evolved is built and tested. USAF Colonel James Burton is assigned to review and give final approval to the tested model for mass production. During his search for the truth, he encounters combative fellow officers, hidden information, tampered-with machinery, and a very temperamental commanding General (Kelsey Grammer) of questionable mental stability. It becomes clear to Lt. Col. Burton that the reason for the obstacles is that the others dread becoming troublemakers and being forced to retire, a fate that Col. Burton does not escape.


* James G. Burton, "The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard", Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press (1993) ISBN 1-55750-081-9

External links

*imdb title|id=0144550|title=The Pentagon Wars

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