April 1, 2011

Smoke Signals

“Deliver what you promise. Period. Dot. Don’t blow smoke up my ass. There is no time for it. There is no money for it. There is no patience for it.”Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, in remarks to defense contractors at an industry conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 9.

Forrest Gump in Washington

“We are analyzing the speech of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to see what possibilities it contains for meaningful reform.”—Unnamed senior administration official, responding to a Feb. 20 speech in which Muammar Qaddafi’s son vowed to fight “to our very last man, woman, and bullet.”

No War-less War

“Let’s just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That’s the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down, but that’s the way it starts.”—Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in remarks to the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, March 2.

Unassailable Logic …

“Because it is principally our Air Force and Navy that deter both China and Iran, ground force cuts would not directly affect our ability to deal with these two powers.”—Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writing in Politico, Feb. 18.

… Almost Anyone Can Grasp

“In the competition for tight defense dollars within and between the services, the Army also must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the US military are primarily naval and air engagements—whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf, or elsewhere. … In my opinion, any future Defense Secretary who advises the President to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”—Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in remarks to cadets at West Point, N.Y., Feb. 25.

Was That Really the Fat Lady

“Much is promised by our competitor, whom we congratulate. However, should they fail to deliver, we stand ready to step in with a proven and operating tanker.”—Statement by EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby Jr., announcing there will be no protest of the KC-X tanker contract to Boeing, March 4.

Go Ahead, Make My Day

“We still preserve our right to self-defense and to respond in whatever means we think is appropriate. … I mean, we would respond to attacks in space in the same way that we would respond to other attacks. So it’s not any different.”—Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, news conference on the new National Security Space Strategy, Feb. 4.

In Short, Thoroughly European

“Some here in Europe … maintain that Europe is consolidating its place as one of the world’s top providers of humanitarian and development aid. They suggest a division of labor within NATO—with the United States providing hard power, while its European allies increasingly turn to soft power assignments like training and institution-building. As a committed European I find this suggestion at best naive, and, at worst, dangerous.”—Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, remarks in Brussels, Feb. 7.

Cyber Perspective

“Although we cannot dismiss the threat of a rogue state lashing out [against US networks], most nations have no more interest in conducting a destructive cyber attack against us than they do a conventional military attack. The risk for them is too great.”—William J. Lynn III, deputy secretary of defense, in remarks to the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Feb. 15.

Turning the Taliban Tide

“This is really the heart of the insurgency. I believe they [the Taliban] have been beaten. … They’ve suffered defeat after defeat on the battlefield.”—Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commander of US forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, as quoted Feb. 15 in USA Today.

The Worm Turns

“Nations need to pause before diving into cyber war against nuclear facilities. Stuxnet is now a model code for all to copy and modify to attack other industrial targets. Its discovery likely increased the risk of similar cyber attacks against the United States and its allies.”—Feb. 15 report of the Institute for Science and International Security, referring to the Stuxnet computer “worm” that struck Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Rummius Horribilis

“Oh, the poor people. I terrified them. My goodness. Come on. These are people with stars on their shoulders. They’re people who are patriots. They are people who’ve fought battles. And they weren’t terrified or intimidated. My goodness gracious. I ask tough questions. There’s no question about it. And if someone doesn’t know the answer, it’s not fun for them.”—Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, ABC “Nightline,” on claims that he browbeat senior military officers, Feb. 7.


“I do not agree with the conclusion that General Cartwright maintained an ‘unduly familiar relationship’ with his aide. Nor do I agree that General Cartwright’s execution of his leadership responsibilities vis-a-vis his aide or any other member of his staff was inconsistent with the leadership requirements.”—Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, final judgment of inquiry into whether USMC Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did something improper with a female officer, in New York Times, Feb. 24.

Comprehensive Concerns

“We remain concerned about the extent and strategic intent of China’s military modernization and its assertiveness in space, cyberspace, in the Yellow Sea, East China, and South China Sea.”—New National Military Strategy of the United States of America, released Feb. 8.