Aug. 1, 2009

Stern Warning

“We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. … We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region—or on us.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, speech in Singapore, May 30.

Presidential Promise

“This is the promise I make to you. It’s a promise that as long as I am your Commander in Chief, I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy and the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done. This includes the job of bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end and pursuing a new comprehensive strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”—President Obama, Naval Academy commencement, May 22.

Why the Cold War Ended

“In his second term, Ronald Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who proposed that the two countries end the Cold War and the arms race. Reagan agreed, and the danger of war between the two nuclear giants has since subsided.”—George McGovern, Democratic candidate for President in 1972, Wall Street Journal op-ed, June 1.

Now, He Helps Us

“During speaking tours in the United States before university audiences and business groups, I have often told listeners that I feel Americans need their own change—a perestroika, not like the one in my country but an American perestroika. … Halls filled with thousands of people have responded with applause.”—Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, urging perestroika (far-reaching change) for the US, Washington Post “Outlook” column, June 7.

Doctrine Out of Balance

“Counterinsurgency doctrine is on the verge of becoming an unquestioned orthodoxy, a far-reaching remedy for America’s security challenges. But this would be a serious mistake. Not all future wars will involve insurgencies. Not even all internal conflicts in unstable states—which can feature civil wars, resource battles, or simple lawlessness—include insurgencies. Yet COIN is the new coin of the realm, often considered the inevitable approach to fighting instability in foreign lands.”—Celeste Ward, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations capabilities in 2007-08, Washington Post op-ed, May 17.

Fewer Exquisite Programs

“We have had a temptation to design and try to build the most exquisite systems, and we have proven we can do that. … My observation is we went way over on trying to build too many things on the same ‘bus’ [or platform]. …There’s going to be a lot more of ‘not bad’ than there is of ‘wow.’”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, American Forces Press Service, May 22.

Joint Enlightenment

“War cannot be precisely orchestrated. By its nature, it is unpredictable. You cannot change the fundamental nature of war. … [The US military should avoid] grabbing concepts that are defined in three letters, and then wondering why the enemy dances nimbly around you.”—Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander, Joint Forces Command, who had earlier banished the referenced three-letter concept (EBO, or effects-based operations, which emphasized airpower instead of boots on the ground) from joint doctrine, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 1.

Justifying the Fleet

“Since the United States has not fought a real naval battle since World War II, justifying the high cost of a large fleet of warships and aircraft is a tall order.”—Historian Barrett Tillman, US Naval Institute Proceedings, June.

Slippage in ISR

“Advances in air-to-air and surface-to-air systems are challenging our legacy ISR systems. The sensor alone used to be good enough, but not anymore. Now range, reach, endurance, survivability, and stealth must be integrated as part of the sensor’s capability.”—Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, USAF deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, speech at Burlington, Mass., June 10.

False Strategy

“I’d much rather have a mismatch where we have set an honest strategy and failed to provide the resources … than to set a false strategy that is somehow melded to a budget figure that has no relationship to the threat.”—Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), questioning the 2010 defense budget proposal, House Armed Services Committee hearing, May 13, prior to his nomination June 2 to be Secretary of the Army.

Overlap in Europe

“Of the 28 members of NATO, 21 are EU [European Union] members. So why do we need duplicative organizations when there’s such a major overlap in membership? This whole approach is detrimental to NATO and a distraction from what we should be doing.”—Geoffrey Van Orden, British Conservative member of the European Parliament on the emergence of a European Union military force, Washington Times, May 28.

That’s Fast

“Historically, we have thought in terms of conventional bombers. The reality is conventional bombers for global strike is probably not credible—they are too slow, they are too intrusive, and require too many permissions to get from point A to point B. … [The low end capability for global strike] is probably any place on the face of the Earth in an hour. The high end is any place on the face of the Earth in about 300 milliseconds—that’s cyber.”—Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 4.

Primary Budget Casualty

“All the services are under stress, wearing out equipment much more quickly, and experiencing reduced readiness levels across the board. The Air Force and the Navy, however, have had to live with flat or declining budgets for the past several years. As a result, modernization is the primary budget casualty. Gradually, falling budgets have led Air Force leaders to sign up for a future fighter fleet that will force those in uniform to bear increased risk.”—Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst Mackenzie Eaglen, June 11.