It’s sometime before dawn – zero dark thirty, in battlefield parlance. The air smells of burning tires, rotting garbage and gunpowder. Four soldiers flank a hotel entrance and hear the faint sound of a radio playing a pop song on the other side. On three, they break the door down and rush in. Bright flashes blind them. Explosions leave them deaf. A .50-caliber machine gun rattles off rounds.
Someone in Raytheon’s corporate communications office sure fancies his or herself the next Billy Shakespeare. This passage, from the uncommonly prolific “News Feature” section of the defense contracting giant’s website, is just one of many pieces seemingly geared towards’ reframing the story of how Ray T. Heon, humble military servant extraordinaire, is just making sure our soldiers are as safe as safe can be.
This excerpt discusses the company’s update of the U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain complex, and I have to say, it sounds freaking awesome. It even has a high-tech laser tag component—all while serving as the first all-digital Joint Regional Training Center. And that is where our anonymous modern bard is really shining—by refashioning the gritty realities of war into a Ken Follett novel. It’s good business and even smarter PR when you’re the world’s largest guided missile producer.
But for a company ranked fourth by SIPRI on their list of the Top 100 Arms-Producing and Military Services Companies, with revenues from last year reaching $22.83 billion, the prose could use some work. I’ve selected a few of my favorites for you:
High above enemy territory, the doors on the underside of a fighter jet swing open, and out drops a winged weapon into the black, cloudy night. Steadily, it glides toward a rumbling enemy convoy, with a haze of dust and smoke hanging thick in the air. The pilot can’t see the target. But the bomb can see it perfectly. (Raytheon)
Just a story about a boy and his bomb. Nothing to get upset about.
Behind heavy bunker doors, inside a room shrouded in metal and shielded with window shades that kill cell-phone signals, a computer hacker is showing a crowd of Raytheon managers how much damage even a teenage novice can do with the right tools and a couple of clicks.
The first click launches a free program that turns arcane computer code into an interface as easy to use as iTunes. The second click scours the network for vulnerable computers. The third looks for weaknesses. And the fourth puts the machine under the hacker’s complete control. (Raytheon)
“....window shades that kill cell phone signals...” Wait, what?
The students of the James A. Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles live in a low-income community plagued by gang activity and other urban pressures. College, careers and a path to a better life often seem out of reach. (Raytheon)
Preach, Raytheon! Bet you know all about that gang life!
Raytheon’s computer security experts knew they had built something valuable. Any good cybersecurity tool can find the flaws in a system, but this one did more: it explained those weaknesses in graphics that were concise and clear enough for harried executives, and sophisticated enough to help IT professionals fix the problem.
The technology was ready to serve businesses and agencies around the world. But what its developers needed was a venue to demonstrate its power. (Raytheon)
Sounds like a Dan Brown novel to me, but ok.
An hour’s drive east of the Jackson International Airport, past barbecue joints and used car lots, Highway 80 widens to reveal a cluster of industrial buildings flanked by a tall white water tower.The unassuming town of Forest, Mississippi, is host to this technologically advanced facility, which produces the most advanced combat radars available today.(Raytheon)
Tall? Kind of a boring adjective, if you ask me. How about soaring? Or sky-scraping? I looked at the thesaurus for those. Have you used one of those before? Really helpful.
Some kinds of help are best done person to person. (Raytheon)
Wise advice from a wise person. If you ever get tired of doing what you’re doing, Ray, social media companies are hiring. But, I bet you already knew that.
[All passages taken from Raytheon News Features. Photo courtesy of US Army.]
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.