Feb. 1, 2006
Rumsfeld’s Operational Focus

“I think if I had to pull out one lesson that we’ve learned over the past four or five years, it would be that in the 21st century we’re going to have to stop thinking about things, numbers of things, and mass, and think also and maybe even first about speed and agility and precision.”—Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Q&A session at Johns Hopkins University, Dec. 5.

They’re Up There

“They may be overhead of us right now, flying between San Diego and Los Angeles just to be prepared. Of course, folks will say there haven’t been attacks since the 11th of September. That’s kind of the point. We hope the terrorists don’t know where we’re flying and don’t know when we’re flying, but they just know we’re up there. More importantly, we are on alert.”—Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of NORAD and Northern Command, San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 11.

People vs. Forces

“Either you’re not going to have combat-ready forces, or you’re not going to pay people.”—Cindy Williams, MIT researcher who has studied the Pentagon’s “personnel cost problem,” Newhouse News Service, Nov. 21.

Impatience Inside the Beltway

“It’s not hard to deal with patience in the Middle East. Everyone is patient. The only problem that there appears to be a patience problem is within the Beltway. … When I talk to civilian audiences, I don’t get the same sense of impatience that I detect here in the Beltway.”—Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander, US Central Command, on Washington criticism of war in Iraq, Washington Times, Nov. 22.

USAF Struggle for Identity

“Air Force leaders are constantly struggling to symbolically sustain and justify the independent service identity of the Air Force and to create and protect a unique Air Force culture comparable to those of the other services. This mainly manifests itself in the focus on technology in the Air Force, which is seen as setting the Air Force above the less-technological traditional services.”—George R. Mastroianni, professor at the Air Force Academy (and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve), US Army War College Parameters, Winter 2005-06.

Not Afghanistan, Not Iraq …

“Our principal victory in our overall war on terrorism was demonstrating to [Indonesians] that we want to be in partnership with them, an element for good in the world.”—Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, about US tsunami relief in Asia in 2004,, Dec. 9.

As Important as Combat

“Stability operations are a core US military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct and support. They shall be given priority comparable to combat operations.”—Gordon R. England, then acting deputy Secretary of Defense, policy directive, Nov. 28.

Failing Grade

“We believe that the terrorists will strike again. If they do, and these reforms that might have prevented such an attack have not been implemented, what will our excuses be?”—Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, Washington Post, Dec. 6.

Like the 1940s

“I’m absolutely convinced that some day, 50 or 60 years from now, an American President will be speaking to an audience saying, ‘Thank goodness a generation of Americans rose to the challenge and helped people be liberated from tyranny. Democracy spread and the world is more peaceful for it.’?”—President George Bush, comparing circumstances in Iraq to the democratization of Japan after World War II, New York Times, Dec. 10.

Forget About Victory

“The idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.”—Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, WOAI radio, San Antonio, Dec. 5.

Undermining the President

“It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he’ll be Commander in Chief for three more years. We undermine the President’s credibility at our nation’s peril.”—Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, (D-Conn.), Hartford Courant, Dec. 6.

Defending Criticism

“The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them.”—Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Washington Post, Nov. 16.

Shift to Airpower

“A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. Quick, deadly strikes by US warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units.”—Seymour M. Hersh, citing “a high-level Pentagon war planner” and other “military experts, The New Yorker, Dec. 5.

How Much

“If the contractor can’t tell us what it’s going to cost, then they shouldn’t be seeking a contract.”—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on open-ended Pentagon contracts, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15.

Still Missing

“Thirty years after the return of our American troops, nearly 1,400 remain unaccounted for in Vietnam.”—Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), in Hanoi on a fact-finding trip, Associated Press, Dec. 2.

NATO Weakens Russia

“Attempts are being observed to weaken the commonwealth through recruitment of CIS [the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States] states into NATO. Russia will defend its interests.”—Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian armed forces general staff, Moscow Times, Dec. 2.

Attack the Oil Facilities

“I call on the holy warriors to concentrate their campaigns on the stolen oil of the Muslims, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam.”—Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda deputy leader, videotape telecast by Al-Jazeera, Dec. 7.