The Pentagon Wars

The Pentagon Wars

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The Pentagon Wars

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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 Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard) by Colonel James G. Burton, USAF (retired). The film is a dark comedy describing the development of the M2 Bradley fighting vehicle.

Tagline: They aimed to build the ultimate fighting machine. They missed.

Plot summary

U.S. Army Major General Partridge (Grammer) appears before the House Armed Services Committee to defend his recent actions; the story is told mostly as a series of flashbacks:

In its latest effort to curtail excessive spending by The Pentagon, Congress appoints an outsider, USAF Lieutenant Colonel James Burton (Elwes) to observe the testing of several new weapons in development, including the Bradley. Burton reports to General Partridge, who is overseeing the Bradley.

Portrayed as an innocent, Burton quickly becomes disillusioned by the "real" way the development process works, in an atmosphere of corruption and/or bureaucratic inefficiency.


Insisting on getting fully up to speed on the Bradley, Burton delves into the mountains of paper documenting the Bradley's development history:

Originally developed as an armored personnel carrier by Colonel Robert L. Smith (Schiff), the Bradley, after being subjected to the changing (and often conflicting) demands of a panel of armchair generals, is transformed into a hybrid of a troop carrier, a scout vehicle, and an...
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