Sept. 1, 2011

Top of the Line

“There is no alternative to the [F-35] JSF program that delivers an acceptable level of capability at a lower cost.”—Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, letter to Senate Armed Services Committee, quoted in, Aug. 8.

A Job To Finish

“This is a reminder to the American people that we remain a nation still at war. … As heavy a loss as this was, it would be even be more tragic if we allowed it to derail this country from our efforts to defeat al Qaeda and deny them a safe haven in Afghanistan. … Here today we affirm our even greater resolve and commitment to complete the mission at hand.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, remarks at MacDill AFB, Fla., following the deaths of 30 US servicemen in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, Aug. 8.

McCain on the Debt Deal

“I am very concerned about the defense-spending side of [the debt ceiling deal]. I wouldn’t have put that in there. … But I also don’t believe it will come to [big cuts], in that I believe that this select committee—they’ll come up with some pretty good and viable solutions. I’m convinced.”—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), remarks on CBS News program, “The Early Show,” Aug. 1.

Pentagon Frick-tion

“I’m Italian. What the frick can I tell you?”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, interview with NBC News in which he jokingly explains his frequent resort to salty language, July 11.

One Man’s Opinion

“The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else’s lunch.”—Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), during House debate on the defense budget, July 7.

Food Stamps Trump Defense

“Core commitments that we make to the most vulnerable have to be maintained. And so a lot of the spending cuts that we’re making should be around areas like defense spending, as opposed to food stamps.”—President Obama, interview with National Public Radio, July 22.

In the Dead of Night

“What is it that you do, when you get the President up in the middle of the night and you say, ‘So-and-so is attacking. The only thing I’ve got that can get there for the next 24 hours or 48 hours is a nuclear weapon’? … We have to find some way to get a range of action that allows us to be credible in those first few hours.”—Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, JCS vice chairman, remarks to the Defense Writers Group about the need for a conventional prompt global strike system, July 14.

No Illusions

“It is my intention to maintain the momentum of the campaign. … There will be tough days ahead. I have no illusions about the challenges ahead.”—Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, new coalition commander in Afghanistan, change of command ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 18.

Silent Cyber War

“It is a significant concern that, over the past decade, terabytes of data have been extracted by foreign intruders from corporate networks of defense companies. In a single intrusion this March, 24,000 files were taken. When looking across the intrusions of the last few years, some of the stolen data is mundane, … but a great deal of it concerns our most sensitive systems, including aircraft avionics, surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems, and network security protocols.”—William J. Lynn III, remarks at National Defense University, Washington, D.C., July 14.

Military Power in Context

“I wouldn’t describe our economic condition as the single biggest threat to national security. There are a lot of clear and present threats to our security in the current operational environment. … National security didn’t cause the debt crisis, nor will it solve it. … We have to address our economic stature, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect the other instruments of national power.”—Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answering advance questions for confirmation hearing, Senate Armed Services Committee, July 26.

Well, Do Something

“Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups [in Iraq] which are killing our troops. And there’s no reason, with some 46,000 troops that I have there now, for me to believe that they’re going to stop that as our numbers come down. … And they are shipping high-tech weapons in there … which are killing our people. And we have—and the forensics prove that.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of JCS, in remarks to reporters at the Pentagon, July 7.

Is Victory at Hand

“I think we really can strategically defeat al Qaeda. … I think now is the moment—now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them because I do believe that if we continue this effort, that we can really cripple al Qaeda as a threat to this country.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, remarks to reporters while en route to Kabul, Afghanistan, July 8.

The Nukes of Pakistan

“I’m as comfortable as I can be that they’ve taken significant steps, including steps in recent years, to improve the security with respect to their nuclear weapons. There are limits to what I know and to what anybody outside Pakistan knows, but I know that they have invested a great deal. They’ve improved their procedures and they take it very seriously. … So those steps are—I think are—very positive steps. But again, there are limits. This is a sovereign country. These are their weapons. There are limits to what we know, in that regard.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in remarks to reporters at the Pentagon, July 7.

Snarled in Spaghetti

“None of it was coordinated. Some of it was conflicting. Some was immediate. Some came weeks later. It was a very messy spaghetti chart.”—Davi D’Agostino, Government Accountability Office cyber analyst, describing DOD’s confused response to a serious 2008 cyber attack. Quoted in Washington Post, July 26.