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Verbatim

July 1, 2020

Lethal Weapon

Master Sgt. Matthew Plew

Since the inaugural test flight 31 years ago next month, the formidable B-2 Spirit has been the world’s most technologically advanced bomber. The B-2 Spirit’s stealth technology, long-range capability, and precision-strike payload produce a powerful conventional and nuclear statement: ‘We are here. We are ready to respond. Anytime. Anywhere.’… Maintaining a convincing nuclear deterrent is the National Defense Strategy’s highest modernization priority.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett on a visit to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.,
home of the B-2 Spirit [June 16].

Carrier Quandry

The carrier is not a threat to China because China has developed missiles specifically to kill carriers at great range and to shoot down joint strike fighters.

Retired British Gen. Sir Richard Barrons, former head of the U.K.’s Joint Forces
Command, Financial Times [July 3].

Mea Culpa

Always maintain a keen sense of situational awareness. As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched. And I am not immune, as many of you saw [as a] result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I’ve learned from. … We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation, and we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our Republic. …. Embrace the Constitution. Keep it close to your heart. It is our North Star. It’s our map to a better future. Though we are not a perfect union, believe in the United States. Believe in our country. Believe in our troops and believe in our purpose.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a video address to the graduating class at National Defense University [June 11].

Day of Reckoning

COVID … and the downward pressure on the budget … is going to accelerate the day of reckoning that was always facing us. … We can no longer modernize and maintain what we have. … You’re going to either keep your force structure whole and ready, or you’re going to modernize.

Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, Deputy Director, Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability, on the Air Force’s strategy to retire current capability to pay for modernization, at a Mitchell Institute Aerospace Nation livestreaming event[May 27].

Accidents Might Happen

Li Wei/China Ministry of Defense

I think the possibility of an accidental shot being fired is rising.

Wu Shicun, president, National Institute for South China Sea Studies, in a report on American military activity in the region [June 26].

Ally Envy

One of [President] Trump’s favorite comparisons was to point to the tip of one of his Sharpies and say, ‘This is Taiwan,’ then point to the Resolute desk and say, ‘This is China.’ So much for American commitments and obligations to another democratic ally.

John R. Bolton, former National Security Adviser, in “The Room Where it Happened,” his memoir of his time in the White House.

Mercenary Mourning

Mike Tsukamoto/staff

You don’t see yellow ribbons around trees for contractors. All these touching scenes of the military service member coming home and scooping his kids up at the airport, you never see that for contractors.

Mark Cancian, defense budget expert, Center for Strategic and International
Studies, on how using private military contractors blunts perceptions of the
human cost of longterm deployments. Washington Post [June 30].