July 1, 1997

A Senator’s Mind

“I think she is being badly abused. . . . The Pentagon is not in touch with reality on this so-called question of fraternization. I mean, get real. You’re still dealing with human beings. . . . I don’t understand why she is being singled out and punished the way she is. I think, at the minimum, she ought to get an honorable discharge.”–Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), in a May 21, 1997, statement on the case of 1st Lt. Kelly J. Flinn, the B-52 copilot who later accepted a general discharge rather than face court-martial for lying under oath, disobeying an order, adultery with the husband of an enlisted airman, and fraternization.

AKA “The Cold War”

“Russia and NATO do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition. . . .”–Text of the “NATO-Russia Founding Act,” establishing a new consultative mechanism between Brussels and Moscow, signed May 27, 1997, in Paris.

Wear and Tear

“I am pleased to see a commitment by [DoD] leadership to engage our forces as selectively as possible and to continue the efforts to manage peacetime optempo and perstempo within sustainable limits. The continuity, pace, and frequency of these engagements is something I’m becoming more concerned about with every passing day. We’re seeing the indications of some real wear and tear on the force. We can’t ignore or neglect those indications. For the airman in the field, there are really only three concerns: Will things get better? Will they stay about the same? Or will they get worse? Based on everything I see and hear, most of our force feel the latter is most likely.”–Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, in May 22, 1997, testimony to the House National Security Committee.

Doing Less With Less

“Indicators of a long-term systemic readiness problem are far more prevalent today than they were in 1994. Declining defense budgets, a smaller force structure, fewer personnel, and aging equipment, all in the context of an increase in the pace of operations, are stretching US military forces to the breaking point. . . . ‘Doing more with less’ may be the military’s new motto, but it is certainly not a sustainable strategy, nor is it conducive to ensuring the long-term viability of an all-volunteer force.”–From an April 9, 1997, report by Rep. Floyd D. Spence (R-S.C.), chairman of the House National Security Committee, summarizing a seven-month-long study by the committee’s Republican staff.

Water Torture

“The Navy wants to put it in the water and see if it makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense, it was a prototype and [the Navy will] move on.”–Vice Adm. Donald L. Pilling, deputy chief of naval operations, Resources, Warfare Requirements, and Assessments, in a March 26, 1997, statement referring to the Navy’s arsenal ship concept.

Nuclear Near Crisis

“We face a near crisis in the core [nuclear] weapons program. . . . The deep cuts we have made over the past six years resulted in our retiring the most experienced experts, driving off some of those early in their careers, and foregoing hiring. . . . There is no other quarter where we can obtain the experience base to carry out these weapon responsibilities. . . . I believe the present course we are pursuing–a continual reduction of an already depleted core weapons program–will be particularly destructive. . . . We will someday have to replace our old weapons with replacement systems; we cannot extend their lives indefinitely.”–C. Paul Robinson, director of Sandia National Laboratories, in a March 19, 1997, statement to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

Geezers and Whippersnappers

“The average airplane in the strategic airlift fleet is 26.3 years old, up slightly from last year’s 25.5-year average. Our tanker aircraft average 36 years in the inventory. . . . By 2000, our airlift fleet will average 30.6 years and our tankers almost 39 years. In comparison, FedEx’s and United Airlines’ fleets average 18 and 11 years, respectively.”–Gen. Walter Kross, commander in chief, US Transportation Command, and commander, Air Mobility Command, in a March 13, 1997, statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Now That’s Arms Control

“In implementing the START [Strategic Arms Reduction Talks] I Treaty, . . . the United States and Russia have moved well down the road toward the accountable limit of 6,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons. . . . Through the end of 1996, the United States and Russia had destroyed over 750 missile silos, 32 ballistic missile submarines, and almost 300 heavy bombers, achieving over 50 percent of the required warhead reductions under START I.”–Gen. Eugene E. Habiger, USAF, commander in chief, US Strategic Command, in a March 13, 1997, statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sure it Does

“The Navy’s Super Hornet gives this nation both a ‘first day of the war’ and an ‘every day of the war’ dominance and a precision strike fighter that meets and beats the threat through the first part of the twenty-first century. . . . There is not a threat fighter in the world today–or projected to exist in the next 20 years–that Super Hornet cannot decisively defeat and totally dominate in combat.”–From “Super Hornet,” a March 1997 US Navy press statement.