Oct. 1, 2007

Who Needs ISR

“The day of the spy-in-the-sky approach to intelligence gathering may be coming to an end, plagued by cost overruns and systems so complex they take too long to perfect and probably, most importantly, are increasingly less useful in the age of terrorism.”—Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, op-ed column, Washington Times, Aug. 1.

World’s Worst Problem

“The Americans want so much to be the winners. The fact that they are sick with this illness, the winner’s complex, is the main reason why everything in the world is so confused and complicated.”—Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, news conference in Moscow, July 27.

The More Strategic Service

“In recent years, the Army and the Air Force have followed the example of the Marine Corps in posturing themselves as expeditionary warfighters. But the part of the Navy Department run by admirals doesn’t really see itself that way. It views its forward deployed aircraft carriers and submarines as instruments of foreign policy as much as combat systems—in other words, as versatile tools in a global strategy. Because the Navy thinks strategically rather than tactically, its leaders are more comfortable with the nuances and ambiguity of political processes than warfighters in other services. So Navy leaders get along better with political appointees, ascending to the top jobs.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, July 31.

The Ground Force Force

“The Marine Corps and Army have a proud record of training riflemen. Some may ask why the Air Force wants to establish its own ground combat schools. The real question, however, should be: Why is the Air Force assigning its airmen to be riflemen? The answer to the question is, ‘Somebody made a bad decision.’ If the Air Force can provide airmen to fill thousands of Army riflemen positions, the Air Force must have more personnel than it needs to do its job. Wouldn’t it be smarter to provide those 5,000 or more manning slots to the Army so it can recruit and train riflemen to do the job the Army way?”—Charles D. Sutherland, 32-year Air Force veteran,, July.

Have a Nice Day

“Brands such as Starbucks and Apple have captured the hearts and minds of consumers. … Since before World War II, the US military has developed a brand identity based on a force of might. … Like consumer products positioned and branded for a day gone by, so too is the US military brand identity now—at least in part—out of date.”—“Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation,” RAND study proposing a friendlier “brand” image for US troops, July 17.

Air-Raiding Villages

“Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban, so we’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”—Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), campaigning in New Hampshire Presidential primary race, Nashua Telegraph, Aug. 14.

Interpreting Torture

“The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously ‘interpret’ key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness.”—Ret. Gen. P.X. Kelley, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Robert F. Turner, University of Virginia Center for National Security Law, on latest White House interpretation of permissible prisoner interrogation techniques, Washington Post, July 26.

Just Like Old Times

“It was always a tradition for our long-range aircraft to fly far over the ocean, where pilots met American airplanes and visually greeted them. On Wednesday, we renewed that tradition.”—Maj. Gen. Pavel Androsov, Russian Air Force spokesman, on approach to Guam and US bases there by two Tu-95 Bear bombers, Washington Post, Aug. 10.

Well, Sort Of

“US forces were prepared to intercept the bombers, but they never came close enough to a US Navy ship or to Guam to warrant an air-to-air intercept.”—Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler, Pentagon spokesman, on the Russian bombers, which never got closer than 305 miles to Guam, Reuters, Aug. 10.

Enabling Force

“Air Mobility Command has requirements for modernization like we’ve never had in the past. [Air Mobility] is the No. 1 single enabling force [to carrying out the Air Force’s strategic mission].—Ret. Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force Chief of Staff, speaking at Fairchild AFB, Wash., July 24.

Laser Logic

“We estimate that North Korea has around 800 [theater range] missiles in their operational inventory. Intercepting these missiles during their boost phase while still over North Korean territory would be a huge combat multiplier for me.”—Army Gen. B.B. Bell, top US commander in South Korea, on need for airborne laser, National Review, Aug. 13.

Considering the Draft

“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table.”—Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan (aka the “War Czar”), on the possibility of a return to the military draft, “All Things Considered,” National Public Radio, Aug. 10.

Not by the Pentagon

“There is absolutely no consideration being given to reinstituting a draft. … The all-volunteer force has surpassed all of the expectations of its founders.”—Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, responding to Lute’s statement on NPR, meeting with reporters, Aug. 13.