Dec. 1, 2009

Hard All the Time

“In truth, it is, I think, accurate to observe that, as in Iraq in 2007, everything in Afghanistan is hard, and it is hard all the time.”—Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, US Central Command, Times (of London), Sept. 18.

Promotion Advantage

“It’s going to be pretty hard for a promotion board, picking the next one-star generals, to pick a colonel who hasn’t commanded a UAV wing over a colonel who has. The UAV commander has the experience, and he has a larger, less insular view of the battlefield than, say, an F-22 pilot at Langley.”—C. R. Anderegg, historian of the Air Force, a former F-15 squadron commander, and two-time fighter group commander with 170 combat missions in Vietnam, Newsweek, Sept. 28.

Just Here To Help You

“As I see it, there is only one way to move forward: Washington should agree to the Russian proposal for a joint assessment of missile threats. Let the experts from both countries have a frank discussion that would reveal which threats are real and must be dealt with, and which are imaginary. This would help to avoid misguided projects like the Polish-Czech missile shield, and could help move us from a state of mutual deterrence to a goal of minimum nuclear sufficiency for self-defense.”—Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, op-ed column, New York Times, Sept. 25.

What Madness Is This

“Beijing plans to cut back its vast Army to allocate more resources to the Navy and Air Force … as part of its drive to modernize the world’s biggest military into a leaner, high-tech force.”—Reuters, South China Morning Post, Oct. 1.

Just Like the Vatican

“If Taliban wants to make a religious state, OK, like the Vatican. Vatican doesn’t constitute a danger against us? No. It’s a religious country, very peaceful. And if Taliban wants to make an Islamic emirate, who said that the Taliban is an enemy?”—Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, speech to UN, Sept. 23.

Of Less Concern

“I think the Taliban are, obviously, exceedingly bad people that have done awful things. Their capability is somewhat different, though [from al Qaeda], on that continuum of transnational threats.”—White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Oct. 8.

Share the Risk

“Preoccupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us—physically and psychologically—from the people we seek to protect. … ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] cannot succeed if it is unwilling to share risk, at least equally, with the people.”—Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, report to the Secretary of Defense, Aug. 30, disclosed by the Washington Post, Sept 21.

Risk of Sharing Risk

“I am troubled if we are putting our troops at greater risk in order to go to such extremes to avoid Afghan casualties.”—Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington Post, Sept. 23.

Affirming the Core Mission

“We’re making real progress in our core mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. We must never lose sight of that goal. That’s the principal threat to the American people. … We will target al Qaeda wherever they take root; we will not yield in our pursuit; and we are developing the capacity and the cooperation to deny a safe haven to any who threaten America and its allies.”—President Obama, National Counterterrorism Center, Oct. 6.

Airpower and Propaganda

“If all else fails, the enemy will seek to neutralize our asymmetric advantage by using propaganda to attempt to influence the media, putting pressure on our freedom to exploit airpower capabilities to the full; again, this ploy has been used in Afghanistan, where one of the most significant challenges that we currently face—particularly as our land forces are so reliant on air support—is to make sure that we can counter the allegations that the majority of civilian casualties are caused by air attack. We all deeply regret innocent civilian casualties in war, but the growing perception that all civilian casualties are caused by air-delivered weapons is far from the truth.”—Air Chief Marshal Stephen Dalton, Royal Air Force Chief of the Air Staff, Sept. 14.

Not for Public Consumption

“In this process, it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations—civilians and military alike—provide our best advice to the President candidly but privately.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Association of the US Army, Oct. 5, four days after McChrystal, in a London speech, spoke on strategy in Afghanistan.

Synergy of the Force

“Since our reorganization in 1992, which was based largely on functional realignment, Air Force members have tended to view events through a mobility perspective, a combat air forces perspective, or a space perspective, rather than an airman’s perspective. We need to recognize and reinforce the idea that the value of an independent Air Force lies in the synergy it provides across these functional capabilities—not in the effectiveness or efficiency of the independent capabilities themselves.”—Retired Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., former commander of 8th Air Force, Air & Space Power Journal, Fall.

The End Is Near

“I will end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”—President Obama, Human Rights Campaign dinner, Oct. 10.

Senior Official’s Measure of Strategy

“A ground-based interceptor is generally about a $70-million-per-missile asset going after a $10-$15 million [Iranian] missile. The trade is not a good one economically. It’s not a good one from a military strategy position.”—“Senior Administration official,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 21.