Dec. 1, 2000


“My sense is there is not a national consensus to weaponize space, and even if there were, the costs and technical challenge of putting weapons in space are great. While there are some folks … who feel that they are slighted until they can pull triggers from space, I just don’t think that is a realistic desire over the next 25 years. … Twenty to 25 years. … The last time anybody tried to estimate the cost of a real space-based laser to do real stuff, you were talking about $40 billion a pop. If you think F-22 is expensive, this is really going to be expensive.”—Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters, in Oct. 26 remarks to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C.

One President at a Time

“President Clinton remains Commander in Chief. We maintain our defense posture as aggressively as it has been maintained and will continue to do so throughout this period of time until the next president is sworn in … in January. Any country [that] would seek to take advantage of what they perceive to be any exploitive opportunities would be making a very grave mistake.”—Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, in Nov. 8 post-election remarks to Pentagon reporters.

Trenchant Analysis

“In the rush to convince lawmakers and the public that Operation Desert Storm marked a dramatic change in the way future wars will be fought, many in the Pentagon forgot what actually happened. Lost in the high-tech ballyhoo was the reality that it took highly trained armored, light infantry, and airmobile units—plus 40-year-old B-52s—to sweep the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Desert Storm was mostly a low-tech victory.”—Robert Wilkie, counsel to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R–Miss.), writing in October 2000 Naval Institute Proceedings.

Needed: More Airlift

“The mobility forces in the 2005 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) are insufficient in meeting the current National Military Strategy. … The Joint Chiefs unanimously agree 54.5 [million ton miles per day] capability is needed concurrently to mitigate risk and to meet the requirements identified in this study.”—From a near–final draft executive summary of the Mobility Requirements Study 2005, planned for December release.

Of Capability and Rank

“Someday, some way, we are going to have to break those two apart, particularly in an economy which has demands on these kinds of people across the spectrum of commerce. I think legislation will be needed in the future, and, I’ve said it before, to try and pay for capability in our armed forces, rather than paying for rank.”—Gen. Michael E. Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, remarks to an Oct. 30 symposium in Washington, D.C.

Close Call

“I held secrets no one outside Iraq, and only a handful of people inside the country, could know. Not even the aggressive UN inspectors … knew what we still had and how dangerous the situation was. None of them knew that Saddam had been within a few months of completing the bomb when he invaded Kuwait.”—Khidhir Hamza, formerly Iraq’s top nuclear weapons scientist, in remarks reported in Nov. 5 Washington Post.

That Would Just Spoil Things

“I have studied Communist systems all my life, and I have no illusions about the nature of such regimes. As Chairman Kim [Jong Il] would be the first to acknowledge, there is an abyss between his political ideology and ours. North Korea is among the least free nations on Earth. There is little, if any, respect for global norms of human or civil rights. From the top down, the emphasis is on uniformity, order, and discipline. The result is indeed order but at a heartbreaking cost in human happiness, creativity, and welfare. Chairman Kim and I referred to our profound differences in our talks, but we did not allow them to obstruct progress.”—Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in Nov. 2 remarks at the National Press Club about her visit to North Korea.

The More, the Merrier

“We must develop a clearer and—to be blunt—a more positive vision of the future NATO–EU European Union] relationship. … It is clear that, in the future, NATO will no longer be the only major multilateral structure with a role in responding to crises, including military crises, which could affect European stability and security. … We recognize that development of a foreign and security dimension to the EU is a natural, even inevitable, part of the process of European integration begun after World War II. … Let me be clear on America’s position: We agree with this goal—not grudgingly, not with resignation, but with wholehearted conviction.”—Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, in Oct. 10 meeting in England of NATO defense ministers.

Adventures in Jointness

“The bulk of our nation’s land and air forces—‘heavy’ forces designed to defend Central Europe against the Soviet Union—are not optimally suited for today’s increasingly common missions. Each of the military services is changing, or ‘transforming,’ to enhance its strategic responsiveness and broaden its utility. The Army, for example, is becoming lighter to reach crises more rapidly. The Air Force is forming ‘Aerospace Expeditionary Forces’ to gain increased flexibility. The Navy is implementing doctrinal changes to address operations in the littorals. The Marine Corps, however, requires no such renovation.”—Gen. James L. Jones, Commandant, US Marine Corps, writing in October 2000 Armed Forces Journal International.