April 1, 2009

His Mind Is Made Up

“Even if it performs as promised, it’s a dog. And it won’t perform as promised.”—Winslow Wheeler, Center for Defense Information airpower critic, on the F-35 Lightning II, San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 3.

This Is a Chicken Outfit

“Chicken Parts as Jet Fuel? Pond Scum? It’s Possible.”—Headline, USA Today, Jan. 27.

Ample and Untapped

“On account of Iraq and Afghanistan, we would be hard pressed at this time to launch another major ground operation. But elsewhere in the world, the United States has ample and untapped combat power in our naval and air forces, with the capacity to defeat any adversary that committed an act of aggression—whether in the Persian Gulf, on the Korean Peninsula, or in the Taiwan Strait. The risk from these types of scenarios cannot be ignored, but it is a manageable one in the short- to midterm.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Senate Armed Services Committee, Jan. 27.

The Robots Take Over

“Humankind is starting to lose its 5,000-year monopoly on war.”—Peter Singer, 21st Century Defense Initiative, Brookings Institution, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Jan. 27.

Sounds Like Vietnam

“The strategic situation in Afghanistan is that we cannot lose there as long as we maintain a major military presence. (There currently are about 47,000 allied troops in Afghanistan, of whom 31,000 are American.) But we cannot win so long as al Qaeda and the Taliban have sanctuary in Pakistan. This sounds an awful lot like Vietnam during the Johnson Administration, where US troops won every battle they fought, but could not win the war because our political leadership was unwilling to strike decisive blows at the North Vietnamese homeland or at its camps in Laos and Cambodia.”—Jack Kelly, former marine and Green Beret, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the 1980s, now a newspaper columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 1.

Stock Futures

“After investors punish defense stocks for a few weeks, it will become obvious that owning General Dynamics or Raytheon shares at a reduced rate of growth is still much more attractive than holding Dupont or Ford in the current economic environment—or buying Treasury bills at zero interest.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, Feb. 3.

Only Place to Cut

“We have got to face the reality that there’re going to be reductions somewhere in the defense budget. We don’t want to shortchange personnel. We’ve got to fight the current wars we’re in. And so we’ve got to look at the future and we’ve got to make savings there.”—Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), National Journal’s Congress Daily, Jan. 30.

Middle of the Map

“I was down in Australia a couple of years ago. And I was with their joint staff. And they were giving me a briefing of how Australia viewed the world. … And the second or third slide came up. And it was a slide that showed Australia in the middle of the slide. And I’d never seen a slide that didn’t have the United States in the middle. And up in the right-hand corner, this little dot was the United States of America. And I was reminded then and have tried not to forget that it’s important that we look at problems through other people’s eyes, not just our own.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington Post, Feb. 9.


“Bush’s ‘War’ on Terror Comes to a Sudden End.”—Front page headline, Washington Post, Jan. 23.

Long-Range Strike Priority

“The sine qua non for the next LRSS [long-range strike system] should be the capability to persist in defended airspace, day or night, long enough to deal with time-sensitive targets.”—Barry D. Watts, “The Case for Long-Range Strike: 21st Century Scenarios,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Feb. 3.

Last Draftee Still Serving

“I’m a relic. Most of them [young soldiers] are surprised I’m still breathing because in their minds, I’m older than dirt. But they’re even more surprised when they find out this dinosaur can still move around pretty quick.”—Jeffrey J. Mellinger, Army Materiel Command command sergeant major, last American drafted into the military on April 18, 1972, Time, Feb. 7.

Golf Shot in Space

“Starting in Los Angeles, hit the golf ball toward St. Andrews [in Scotland]. It has to go straight into the cup. And the cup is moving.”—Charles Elachi, director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, comparing the challenge of getting a spaceship to Mars and bringing it to rest in a specific region on the surface, Washington Post, Feb. 11.

Round Dials

“Today I sat in the cockpits of three or four different aircraft, and these are vintage aircraft. They have steam-driven gauges and round dials. The great airmen over here operating these weapons systems and sustaining these systems are keeping them in the air, but we, as a nation, owe them better, and better does exist out there. That takes resources, that takes modernization, and that’s our challenge right now.”—Gen. Donald J. Hoffman, Air Force Materiel Command commander, visiting bases in Southwest Asia, Air Force Print News, Feb. 9.

Wars and Options

“Preparing only for what appears now to be the most likely conflict—the Long War option—may very well make conventional war more likely in the future. In addition, the ability of the US to advance its global interests requires that [we] maintain command of the global commons: sea, air, and space. The Long War option is not sustainable without such control. Future warfare is likely to be hybrid in character, possessing interlocking elements of both conventional and irregular warfare.”—Mackubin Thomas Owens, Naval War College professor and editor of Orbis, journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Wall Street Journal op-ed, Jan. 27.