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What are Comfort Capsules?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2016
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Comfort capsules are self-contained capsules which are designed to be installed in military aircraft for the purpose of accommodating top-ranking officials when they require air travel. The practice of installing comfort capsules has been a topic of controversy, with some people arguing that they are wasteful uses of resources, while others suggest that they are vitally necessary so that officials can hold meetings and discuss important issues while in flight. The clash over comfort capsules, in the eyes of some people, illustrates the disconnect between enlisted soldiers and high-ranking officers which exists in many militaries.

The design of a comfort capsule varies, but at a minimum, it features mixed seating and a desk which can be used as a workspace. Typically, comfort capsules also have entertainment amenities such as a large screen television, and they may also feature facilities for food and beverage service. While none of these amenities are particularly outrageous, comfort capsules are also designed with very high quality components, which can get extremely expensive, and some people criticize them as too luxurious.

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Supporters of comfort capsules argue that since they could be used for conferencing and entertaining with representatives of other governments, they should be luxurious as a courtesy to visitors. In addition, it can be cheaper to build and maintain a fleet of comfort capsules than to construct a fleet of transport aircraft with the same amenities. The advantage of a comfort capsule is that it can be removed and switched into another aircraft, making planes multi-purpose, and comfort capsules are easier to move around than entire planes.

Critics, however, believe that the use of resources for comfort capsules is wasteful, and that it highlights a lack of respect for soldiers on the front lines. Most soldiers enjoy far less luxurious accommodations on the front lines and on transport planes, and some seethe at the idea of top brass flying in style.

Critics of military spending and budget allocations use things like comfort capsules as an example of military waste, arguing that trimming such things from the military budget could result in substantial savings for the taxpayers. These critics also argue that more oversight for military spending is necessary, to prune out uses of resources which are not directly related to the need for national security.

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