Nov. 1, 2010

Airpower, While It Lasts

“The post-World War II world has been one shaped in no small measure by the power of the US Air Force. To lose air dominance through a series of budget cuts would change nearly every calculation made by our leaders in trying to keep peace in the world. … American air forces may keep their superiority for another decade or two, but without a comprehensive commitment to maintaining air superiority, US soldiers, sailors, and marines may one day no longer operate under friendly skies.”—Michael Auslin, American Enterprise Institute, Fox News, Aug. 19.

Ellsberg’s Hero

“He’s a hero to me. I haven’t seen someone make an unauthorized disclosure on this scale, that would lead to serious charges, for 40 years. It seems he believed, as I did, the stakes involved justified that kind of risk.”—Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, on Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, arrested in the disclosure of 76,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, Washington Post, Aug. 14.

The Right To Publish

“The government has no business going after third parties that obtain secret information without committing theft. Media outlets do not have a legal duty to abide by the government’s secrecy demands.”—Washington Post editorial in defense of WikiLeaks, Aug. 18.

The Right To Lie

“We have no doubt that society would be better off if Alvarez would stop spreading worthless, ridiculous, and offensive untruths. But, given our historical skepticism of permitting the government to police the line between truth and falsity, and between valuable speech and drivel, we presumptively protect all speech, including false statements, in order that clearly protected speech may flower in the shelter of the First Amendment.”—9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, Aug. 17, ruling unconstitutional the “Stolen Valor” case against former California politician Xavier Alvarez, who claimed to be a retired marine and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Top National Security Threat

“The most significant threat to our national security is our debt. And the reason I say that is because the ability for our country to resource our military—and I have a pretty good feeling and understanding about what our national security requirements are—is going to be directly proportional—over time, not next year or the year after, but over time—to help our economy.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CNN, Aug. 27.

Not Cutting Carriers

“In the Navy League speech, I probably—in trying to be provocative—I probably contributed to a misunderstanding of what I was trying to say, which was—you know, I’m not going to cut any aircraft carriers—[but] you’ve got to think differently about how you’re going to use aircraft carriers.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, interview, Aug. 16, on his question in a May 3 speech to the Navy League of whether the US needs 11 carriers when no other nation has more than two.

Not Cutting Marines, Either

“The Pacific campaign of World War II was the only period of history when the exclusive focus of the Marine Corps was on amphibious assault. Yet, fundamentally, the Marines do not want to be, nor does America need, another land army. … The Marines’ unique ability to project combat forces from the sea under uncertain circumstances—forces quickly able to protect and sustain themselves—is a capability America has needed in this past decade, and will require in the future. … Ultimately, the maritime soul of the Marine Corps needs to be preserved, notwithstanding the imperatives of today’s wars.”—Gates, speech in San Francisco, Aug. 12.

Academy Faculty Accessible

“Most of us remember that particular high school or college teacher who made a difference in our lives by demonstrating how much they cared. The Air Force Academy is full of such instructors.”—Brig. Gen. Dana H. Born, dean of the faculty, on recognition, for the fifth year in a row, by the Princeton Review of the nation’s best colleges, of Air Force Academy professors as among the most accessible in the nation to students, Aug. 3.

Active Cyber Defense

“The National Security Agency has pioneered systems that, using warnings provided by US intelligence capabilities, automatically deploy defenses to counter intrusions in real time. Part sensor, part sentry, part sharpshooter, these active defense systems represent a fundamental shift in the US approach to network defense. They work by placing scanning technology at the interface of military networks and the open Internet to detect and stop malicious code before it passes into military networks. Active defenses now protect all defense and intelligence networks in the ‘.mil’ domain.”—William J. Lynn III, deputy secretary of defense, Foreign Affairs, September-October.

Change From Air and Space

“Today, unlike the contests of the past, our joint forces go into combat with more information about the threat they face, provided in near real-time. And they get that information … from air and space. Today, unlike the past, our joint task forces are able to operate with much smaller numbers, across great distances and inhospitable terrain, because they can be sustained over the long haul … by air.”—Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, Danger Room (, Aug. 30.

A Job for Afghans

“I said, ‘General Petraeus, winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans is not the job of a soldier. That’s the job of an Afghan.’ “—Mohammad Umer Daudzai, chief of staff to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on US strategy emphasis on active role with local communities, Washington Post, Aug. 29.

Defense Industry Braced

“Military contractors have been through cost-cutting campaigns before, and they know how the best intentions of political leaders can become pretexts for destructive behavior in the bureaucracy. They also know that the last thing likely to be cut is the bureaucracy itself, even though that is where much of the waste occurs.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, Aug. 4.