"A Real S*** Show": Soldiers Angrily Speak Out about Being Blocked from Repairing Equipment by Contractors:

Louis Rossmann has created a movement around right to repair. It's not just iPhones. It's everywhere.

Welcome to BIG, a newsletter on the politics of monopoly power. If you’d like to sign up to receive issues over email, you can do so here

Louis Rossmann is an important YouTube personality who talks about, among other things, the fact that big firms block their customers from repairing equipment so they can extract after-market profits with replacement parts. And he’s very much noticed the Biden executive order, which calls for agencies to curtail this practice (as well as the FTC report on it). Rossmann did a series of videos on this order, one of which focused on the order calling for the Pentagon to stop contracting with firms that block soldiers from being able to repair equipment. He cited Elle Ekman’s New York Times piece from 2019 on the problem.

What’s even more interesting than the video are the comments on it, from soldiers angry that they keep encountering this problem in the field. I pulled some of them and published them here.


Im a technician in the US Navy, I can tell you, there was a time when we used to be able to troubleshoot and repair pretty much everything we own. We were able to keep spare parts (high fail items) on hand and we had complete parts lists and troubleshooting diagrams for everything. Now, most new equipment is under contract, and instead of being able to repair, we are required to contact a civilian technician and they have to come onboard to fix problems. This mean, when we are deployed, we are paying to fly someone thousands of miles, into warzones, to fix something that probably just needs a simple component replacement. its a nightmare.


This has been a problem in the army for years. We had to pay contractors to help us fix things because we didn’t have access to “proprietary “ company information. A big problem with the Apache.


When I served in Afghanistan with the Army we had a lot of equipment we were not allowed to service even if they were easy repairs. They paid field service reps to stay in Afghsnistan all making way way more than we made. They all made 6 figures. I've seen the billing statements. A regular 10 grade bolt that's 20 cents was about 65 dollars and about 600 dollars to replace. That isn't an exaggeration. Lockheed Marten was one. The company who made our mine rollers that regularly wore out wheels and bearings. The wheels were 4-6 inches round being pushed at road speeds on gravel roads.


If people understood how much money we actually waste on defense contracts they'd be in awe. I've seen equipment that could've been fixed in our shop for $20 get sent out and replaced entirely for $30k. The contracts say we can't work on it, so why did the army spend all that money training me if I'm not even a system repairer? I'm a glorified paper pusher at this point, and the paper I push is burning your tax dollars. America, you should be enraged with the way we use our defense budget. It gets even more insulting.. When they repair the equipment we sent back, they turn around and sell it back to the army again for the original price like it's brand new.


I'm active duty and this is so true. The military has so much equipment that we can repair because of this. We waste millions of tax payers dollars to send it back to the manufacturer for repair because we can't get the parts.


I'm a mechanic in the Army, ran into this problem with AC systems on the Bradley. 120+ degrees sucks for people, but sucks even more for electronic systems, I couldn't tell you how much money was lost buying new parts for these vehicles where it could have been prevented by having the ability to maintain the AC systems already installed on these vehicles.


When I was in Iraq (08-09), we had a juniper firewall go down, didn't have another on back up, and they had to fly a contractor out from the states to Iraq, to change it out. Took 10 minutes to diagnose the problem, and 3 days of waiting, and 15 minutes to install it. We lost feed to the predator drones in the area, phone, internet, coms, and several other mission critical things for 3 days.... a real s*** show.


can confirm; we're not allowed to do anything with stingers when they're broken. have to send it back and have it fixed instead of fix it ourselves. Even if its a minor thing that breaks off which has no impact on usage.


I was in army military intelligence for 6 years. All of the systems we used had civilian contractors to fix them. Most of the products the intel world uses have only a couple people who are allowed to work on them.