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US weapons may be getting too complex for troops

Is the US defense industry starting to make field weapons simpler so not-so-smart soldiers can operate them? That possibility was raised in an interview with LTV Corporation chairman Paul Thayer, as he discussed a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), the company's Vought division is building for the Army. The weapon consists of two rows of tubes, each containing a land-to-land missile. It is transported on a tanklike chassis.

The MLRS "is highly mobile and greatly simplified in what it takes in the way of manpower and skills to position the vehicle . . . and fire at a target," Mr. Thayer said.

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The US, he added, has "sophisticated weapons systems in the hands of troops that are not operated with anywhere near the expertise that's required."

In the past, he said, weapons development "has assumed a level of human competence which has not been forthcoming" in the all-volunteer a rmy, which he termed "a miserable failure."

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