Dec. 1, 2007

The Best Ever

“The most successful aircraft in the history of military aviation isn’t a supersonic fighter or a stealthy bomber. It is a propeller-driven cargo plane called the C-130 Hercules that has evolved into more variants than any other fixed-wing plane ever built. The Hercules is so successful that in 2006 it became only the second aircraft of American origin to reach the half-century milestone of continuous operation by its home service, the Air Force. The only other plane that has achieved such longevity is the B-52 bomber. But whereas the B-52 ceased production 40 years ago, the Hercules looks likely to continue rolling off production lines for decades to come.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, September.

Expert Opinion

“These days, the Navy is a better air force than the Air Force. The only thing it doesn’t do that the AF does is heavy airlift and heavy aerial tanking. So when the Air Force disbands out of despair, hopefully sometime next year, I would propose transferring those missions to the Navy—and giving the Air Force’s Predator drones to the Army, which would probably make better use of them anyway.”—David Axe, military editor, Defense Technology International,, Sept. 24.


“If Hitler were in the United States [prior to 1939] and wanted a platform from which to speak, he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States. If he were willing to engage in a debate and discussion, and be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.”—John Coatsworth, dean of Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, on speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran at Columbia (which continues to ban ROTC from its campus), Fox News, Sept. 22.

Home for Christmas

“The war is over. The Chinese are not coming into this war. In less than two weeks, the Eighth Army will close on the Yalu across the entire front. The Third Division will be back in Fort Benning for Christmas dinner.”—Gen. Douglas MacArthur, UN commander in Korea, September 1950, after US landing at Inchon and before 30 Chinese divisions entered the war, in David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, September.

Where the RMA Began

“The term most often used to describe recent military developments is ‘transformation’ or the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs.’ These expressions entered the lexicon of the US military a number of years ago as ways to describe the potential for new technologies to fundamentally alter the nature of war. What is less well-known, especially in America, is that much of the original thinking on these matters was done by the Soviet military as far back as the 1970s, when officers wrote about what was then called a ‘Military Technical Revolution.'” —Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, speech to Military Academy of the General Staff, Moscow, Oct. 13.

Complainers Are the Problem

“Everything I’ve heard up to this point doesn’t imply that there were any issues in the way it was handled, except apparently someone has complained.”—Steve Forsyth, North American Airlines spokesman, on the barring of US marines—on their way home from Iraq on a North American Airlines charter flight—from the passenger terminal at Oakland Airport, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 3.

Back to the Mach

“Just flew an F-16 on Sept. 21, 2007, and broke the sound barrier again to commemorate the 60th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier.”—Retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, who still flies two or three times a week, Agence France-Presse, Oct. 11.

Background Noise

“The war is little more than a headline or sound bite to most Americans. It poses no inconvenience and is regarded as little more than a newsworthy nuisance to a public more interested in following the major league baseball pennant races or the recent arrest of O.J. Simpson. The war is background noise.”—Donald H. Horner, Jr., professor of leadership education at the US Naval Academy, Baltimore Sun, Sept. 28.

Gone But Not a Goner

“Pete has assured me he doesn’t intend to end it all here today.”—President Bush at retirement ceremony for Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Oct. 1, referring to the expectation that Pace will continue to make a contribution in public service.

Sanchez Lashes Out

“The Administration, Congress, and the entire interagency, especially the State Department, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure, and the American people must hold them accountable. There has been a glaring unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders.”—Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, former commander of US forces in Iraq, Washington Post, Oct. 13.

Could Happen Here

“We remain particularly concerned about the employment of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in an attack against the homeland, given the ready availability of IED components and the relative technological ease with which they can be fashioned.”—Revised National Strategy for Homeland Security, October.

Prepared to Shoot

“If there were no other way, I would give the order to shoot it down to protect our people.”—German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung on shooting down a hijacked airplane. He triggered a storm of criticism in Germany, Deutsche Welle, Sept. 20.

Seeking Closure

“Before us lies the task of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, which our people yearn for. In this regard, special government envoys were dispatched to the United States, Japan, China, and Russia.”—South Korean unification minister Lee Jae-joung, Associated Press, Oct. 6.