Dec. 1, 2011

Price to Pay

“At a minimum, [new budget cuts] would slash all of our investment accounts, including our top-priority modernization programs such as the KC-46—the tanker—the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft, and the future long-range strike bomber. It would raid our operations and maintenance accounts, forcing the curtailment of important daily operations and sustainment efforts [and] surely diminish the effectiveness and the well-being of our airmen and their families.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff. House Armed Services Committee, Nov. 2.

Cringeworthy Cliche

“I cringe whenever anybody makes a pronouncement that al Qaeda is on its last legs. I think one day we are going to look around and say it’s been a long time since we have heard from al Qaeda, and maybe then we can say it is on its last legs.”—Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, US military spokesman in Iraq. New York Times, Nov. 6.

Three Still Better Than Two

“I continue to stand by the need for a triad [of strategic nuclear weapons], and I think that certainly in the near term … we can sustain a triad.”—USAF Gen. C. Robert Kehler, US Strategic Command. Remarks to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18.

The Troops Need Help

“This is, in many ways, the next ‘greatest generation.’ These are men and women in uniform who have really dedicated themselves to serving this country. … They put their lives on the line. … There’s no reason why the leadership in Washington can’t also sacrifice a little bit to find the solutions that this country needs, but more importantly that the rest of this country can’t sacrifice a little bit in order to give them the opportunity that they fought and died for. … Today, … over 11 percent of returning veterans are unemployed. … That is no way to repay the sacrifice that all of them have made.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. Remarks at a New York roundtable on veteran employment, Nov. 7.

Thanks for Nothing

“God forbid, if ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan. If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”—Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan. Interview with Geo Television, reported by Reuters, Oct. 22.

Wounded Warrior

“Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me. … I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care’?”—Army Maj. Gen. Peter N. Fuller, deputy commander of a program to train and equip Afghan security forces, responding to remarks by President Hamid Karzai. Politico, Nov. 3

Chips Are Up …

“We’ve got to step up the game; we’ve got to talk about our offensive [cyberwar] capabilities and train to them, to make them credible so that people know there’s a penalty to this. … You can’t have something that’s a secret be a deterrent because, if you don’t know it’s there, it doesn’t scare you.”—Retired USMC Gen. James E. Cartwright, former JCS vice chairman, referring to US cyber capabilities., Nov. 6.

… And Chips Are Down

“I really don’t know to what extent the weapon systems that have been developed over the last 10 years have been penetrated, to what extent the chips are compromised, to what extent the code is compromised. I can’t assure you that as you go to war with a cybersecurity-conscious, cybersecurity-capable enemy that any of our stuff is going to work.”—Richard A. Clarke, former top White House terrorism advisor. Remarks at a Washington, D.C., cyber conference, Nov. 7.

Race Against Time

“The debate [over Iran’s nuclear arms program] must recognize that time is no longer on the West’s side: Further temporizing in the face of our choice of evils inevitably means that Iran will get to make the choice for us. Israel may soon have to forsake its own (conventional) military option as Iran moves its nuclear assets to hardened installations. The US doesn’t suffer from Israel’s military limitations, but further delay only increases the complexity and uncertainties of any strike.”—Foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens. Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8.

No Hollow Air Force

“We would rather be a smaller, capable Air Force than one that is larger and not ready. That’s the strategy we’re going to follow.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff. Remarks to airmen at JB Andrews, Md., Nov. 1.

Snooping on Our Satellites

“Such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions. Access to a satellite’s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. An attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite’s transmission.”—Report of US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, claiming hackers, possibly Chinese, interfered with two US satellites., Oct. 27.

Sending Signals

“When America sends a bomber overseas, it sends a signal. Call it what you will, … we believe that signal is part of deterrence. And there are allies of the world who would probably like us to do it a little more.”—USAF Maj. Gen. William A. Chambers, assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. Capitol Hill speech, Oct. 28.

Shielding the Sacred Cow

“The problem is that, to date, defense has contributed more than half of the deficit reduction measures we’ve taken and there are some who want to use the military to pay for the rest, to protect the sacred cow that is entitlement spending.”—Rep. Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of House Armed Services Committee. Statement, Nov. 2.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

“I believe so [that Israel is moving toward military action against Iran]. I estimate that intelligence services of all these countries are looking at the ticking clock, warning leaders that there is not much time left.”—Israeli President Shimon Peres, interviewed by Channel Two News., Nov. 4.