March 1, 2009

Really Shrewd Question

“Can We Get the Nuclear Genie Back in the Bottle?”—Headline, USA Today, Dec. 15.

Not a Choice

“We would do well to avoid notions that we can pick and choose the kinds of wars in which we want to be involved and prepare only for them.”—Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, US Central Command, Foreign Policy, January.

Slow Starter

“Lieutenant Warner is interested in exerting just enough effort to get by.”—Lt. John Warner’s 1951 Marine Corps fitness report, read at a testimonial dinner as he retired from the US Senate after 30 years, eight of them as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Washington Post, Dec. 22.


“One of the mythologies is that it was the vice president that somehow was pulling the strings on foreign policy in the first term and made it very ideologically driven and that somehow in the second term, the vice president’s influence is in decline and therefore, somehow, the real Bush has come forward and we have a more pragmatic foreign policy. That’s just hooey—it’s just hooey.”—Stephen J. Hadley, then national security advisor, reflecting on eight years with President George W. Bush, Washington Post, Jan. 2.

The End Is Near

“There’s a 55 to 45 percent chance right now that disintegration [of the United States] will occur. … It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian empire for a long time.”—Igor Panarin, dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats, predicting that the United States will break up into six parts by 2010, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29.

The Amazing Becomes Ordinary

“For Air Mobility Command airmen, we consider it simply part of what we do, but in reality, it is quite remarkable to have two aircraft meeting less than 50 feet apart, at more than 20,000 feet above the ground, traveling at speeds close to 400 miles per hour, while a tanker replenishes another aircraft with the fuel necessary to continue the mission.”—Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, commander, Air Mobility Command, Dec. 30.

Mind Your Own Hemisphere

“As America reassesses its role in the world under a new President, it should consider a return to the Monroe Doctrine, which called for noninterference in problems or relations with Europe, and nonexpansion by European countries of their colonial hegemony toward America. This principle of noninterference should be extended by and for all countries of the world.”—Muammar Qaddafi, leader of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Washington Times, Dec. 23.


“You’re a member of the DOD team first, you’re an airman second, and then whatever functional discipline you’re in is third. We are members of a fighting force that is prepared, willing, and able to do what is necessary when called.”—CMSgt. Stephen C. Sullens, Air Combat Command’s command chief master sergeant, Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Dec. 18.

Old Tankers Are Good Enough

“Frankly, I hope the tanker deal is one thing that does not survive the transition. Basically, there’s really nothing wrong with the existing KC-135 tankers, and any case for replacing them is completely made up.”—John Pike, founder and director of Web site, Orlando Sentinel, Jan. 12.

Tanker Bids and Rebids

“I don’t know if we’ll ever build the next generation tanker, but we’re sure building some good law firms in the process.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, Orlando Sentinel, Jan. 12.

Staying There

“Maybe not at current force levels, but I think we’ll see a presence there for decades.”—US Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, on commitment of NATO and US forces to Afghanistan, Bloomberg News, Jan. 9.

Leaving There

“We’re going to get the heck out of Afghanistan. We have to resist putting a lot of troops in, thinking that’s going to solve it. That’s what they said in Vietnam. When I was there, we had a couple hundred thousand [troops in the country]. They went up to 500,000. It didn’t do it.”—Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee and a Marine officer in the Vietnam War, National Journal, Jan. 10.

Military Limits

“I believe we should be more willing to break this cycle and say when armed forces may not always be the best choice to take the lead. We must be just as bold in providing options when they don’t involve our participation or our leadership, or even when those options aren’t popular.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, New York Times, Jan. 13.

Learning From the Experts

“Birds, bats, and insects can fly in turbulent environments with fast, unpredictable wind gusts. Yet they can react almost instantaneously and adapt with their flexible wings. … If handled appropriately, flexible wing structures can delay stall, enhance stability, and increase thrust.”—Wei Shyy, University of Michigan aerospace engineering professor, on research for the Air Force adaptations from biology for micro air vehicles, Air Force Print News, Jan. 7.


“Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is the new generic term to be used for information that is not releasable to the public. … For Official Use Only (FOUO) is being phased out and CUI will replace all current DOD markings used on unclassified information including Privacy Act, and Law Enforcement Sensitive.”—Department of Defense message quoted by Washington Post, Dec. 15.