U.S. Army photo.

The U.S. military has stood perpetually accused of not fielding new weapons to troops fast enough since at least the Civil War, when the Union Army took years to replace muzzleloaders with obviously superior repeating rifles.

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U.S. Navy photo / Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cynthia Z. De Leon.

There are times that make you wonder which side the brass is on. As Homer made clear in The Iliad, it’s the ground pounders who suffer the consequences when headquarters makes bad decisions. Here are five instances in which “The Good Idea Fairy” paid the U.S. military a visit with some terrible, terrible gear ideas.

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Photo via U.S. Naval Historical Center

It’s February 1898, and you’re a recently recruited U.S. Navy sailor. Your ship, the USS Maine, left Key West, Florida, three weeks ago and is now in Cuba -- Havana Harbor, to be specific. It’s 9 p.m. and the sun has gone down. You’ve been trying to read a tattered copy of “The Adventures of Captain Horn” by Frank Stockton, but the other young men in your berthing area have been making too much noise throwing wet rags at each other for you to pay much attention. It’s enough to break the relentless monotony, though. Topside, the dry winter breezes of the Caribbean blow lazily across the deck as the rocking boat gently swings your hammock back and forth. Today is just another boring Tuesday while you and the rest of the crew wait for something to happen.

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