“There aren’t a lot of movies made about airlifters. There’s no ’12 O’Clock High’ or ‘Top Gun’ about those heavy aircraft, but, despite their lack of glamour, they are arguably the most potent tool this nation has for shaping the international arena.”–Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall, in a December 3, 1996, address at American University in Washington, D. C.
Right and Wrong
“I think I was wrong on that.”–Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), now retired, referring to his 1991 vote against authorizing the Persian Gulf War. He was quoted in a December 26, 1996, Associated Press interview.
The QDR Explained
“The [Quadrennial Defense Review] is about our military capabilities that this nation will need to further and to protect our interests in the years ahead. But I’d like to stress that the QDR is not about protecting today’s force. It is, rather, about shaping tomorrow’s force.”–Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a December 12, 1996, Pentagon press briefing on the Department of Defense’s new all-encompassing review of defense requirements.
Over the Horizon
“Some argue that the forward presence these [naval] forces represent is no longer necessary. They argue that forces reacting from the United States are enough to maintain international stability. They further maintain that ‘brush fires,’ or outbreaks of regional instability, are insignificant or incidental at best, and they argue that America can no longer afford the forward presence of these forces on what amounts to a near-continuous basis.
“We would argue just the opposite. Forward-deployed US forces, primarily naval expeditionary forces, . . . are vital to regional stability and to keeping these crises from escalating into full-scale wars. To those who argue that the United States can’t afford to have this degree of vigilance anymore, we say: The United States can’t afford not to. These brush fires, whether the result of long-standing ethnic tensions or resurgent nationalism in the wake of the Cold War, will only continue. . . . The United States and the world cannot afford to allow any crisis to escalate into threats to the United States’ and the world’s vital interests. . . . The concepts of choice must be selective and committed engagement, unencumbered global operations, and prompt crisis resolution. There is no better way to maintain and enforce these concepts than with the forward presence of the US NavyMarine Corps team.”–December 1996 statement of Adm. Jay L. Johnson, Chief of Naval Operations, and Gen. Charles C. Krulak, Marine Corps Commandant.
“The [Persian] Gulf War is remarkable not just for its swiftness but for the swiftness with which it disappeared from American consciousness. After a bare six years, it is hard now even to remember it. How often does it ever come up in discussion or in the popular media–except in the context of Gulf War syndrome? Indeed, the Gulf War lives in American consciousness almost exclusively in the form of Gulf War syndrome.
“When our Gulf War soldiers came home after their astonishing, heroic victory, we gave them parades and 15 minutes of honor. The only way they touch our hearts today, however, is when they troop before Congressional committees displaying their very real suffering. Once again we’ve shown that if you want care and sympathy–and media attention–in America, come not as a hero. Come as a victim.”–Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist, in the December 20, 1996, Washington Post.
Bring a Full Load
“Our theater strategy recognizes that generating the combat power needed to contend with the myriad of regional threats requires more than ‘over-the-horizon’ forces. We must harness the complementary capabilities of all of our armed services, some on land, some on sea, some in the air, to deter conflict and win decisively if deterrence fails.”–Army Gen. J. H. Binford Peay III, commander in chief of US Central Command, MacDill AFB, Fla., in a November 12, 1996, address to the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States in San Antonio, Texas
On Second Thought
“Everybody says [CIA director] is a job I’ve been pushed out of, but I would recall it’s a job I was pushed into. . . . I fired a lot of people. I certainly could have fired more. [But] after a while, you have to ask, what are you accomplishing by doing it?”–Former CIA Director John M. Deutch, as quoted in a December 26, 1996, Washington Post interview.
“Russia has made huge sacrifices in removing its troops and weapons from [eastern Europe], yet NATO’s only response is enlargement of its military alliance to our border. If this happens, it would remove our buffer zone and create dangerous new conditions that would demand action on our part. . . . I don’t believe that NATO is aggressive right now toward Russia, but the possibility may arise that there will be pressure to use its military power to achieve specific goals. And so we will end up again in a Cold War situation.”–Russian Defense Minister Gen. Col. Igor Rodionov, in a December 18, 1996, news conference after a speech in Brussels, Belgium.