Jan. 1, 2012

Sucking Wind

“The [problems] that have arisen in the last 12 months or so in the [F-35 fighter] program have surprised us at the amount of change and at the cost. Most of them are little ones, but when you bundle them all up and package them and look at where they are in the airplane and how hard they are to get at after you buy the jet, the cost burden of that is what sucks the wind out of your lungs. I believe it’s wise to sort of temper production for a while here until we get some of these heavy years of learning under our belt and get that managed right.”—Vice Adm. David J. Venlet, F-35 program manager, interview with AOL Defense, Dec. 1.

The Air Force You Have

“The Air Force is going to get smaller. We’ll have fewer airplanes, probably fewer wings, probably fewer squadrons. But whatever size we end up, we are still going to be a superb Air Force. … If you don’t like your physician, you can probably find another doctor back home. If the American people lose their trust in their Air Force, where do they go? What’s the substitute? The reality is, there isn’t one.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, remarks to airmen at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Air Force News Service, Nov. 22.

So Butt Out, Comrade

“Our estimate of the threat has gone up, not down. It is accelerating—this is the Iranian ballistic missile threat—and becoming more severe than even we thought two years ago. … Whether Russia likes it or not, we are about defending NATO-European territory against a growing ballistic missile threat. We will adapt the timing and the details to that threat, which is why the focus of our joint effort ought to be about how to figure out how to reduce that threat rather than trying to threaten and retaliate for a deployment that has nothing to do with Russia.”—Ivo H. Daalder, US ambassador to NATO, remarks to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2.

The Taliban Air Force

“There was absolutely no malicious, deliberate attack on the Pakistani military posts. If you hear American helicopters, why would you lob mortars and machine gun fire at them? The Pakistanis can say, ‘We thought it was insurgents,’ except for the fact that the Taliban doesn’t have helicopters.”—Unnamed but reportedly senior US defense official, reviewing “friendly fire” attack that inadvertently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2.

Halloween Is More Fun

“Air Force Academy Adapts to Pagans, Druids, Witches, and Wiccans”—Actual headline on story in the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 27.

Fully Loaded Table

“If you compare the situation eight years ago, or four years ago, to today’s situation, the Iranians are much closer to nuclear capability. Therefore the sanctions have to be intensified, quick, determined, … and therefore everyone is saying that no option should be taken off the table.”—Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, interview on Israel’s Channel 2 television news program., Dec. 4.

The Fertilizer Factory

“The United States has been incredibly patient with Pakistan. And we have been so despite certain undeniable and deeply disturbing facts. Most importantly, Pakistani Army and intelligence officials continue to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups in Pakistan that are killing US troops in Afghanistan, and the vast majority of the material used to make improvised explosive devices used against US forces in Afghanistan originates from two fertilizer factories inside Pakistan. The time has come for the United States to fully review its relations with Pakistan.”—Sen. John S. McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), joint statement, Dec. 5.

It Takes a Worried Man

“I’m concerned about a lot of things here, in addition to the nuclear deterrent. I’m concerned about space. I’m concerned about cyber. I’m concerned about missile defense. I’m concerned across the board.”—Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of US Strategic Command, remarks about budget cuts in interview with the Washington Times, Nov. 23.

Sounds Good …

“I’ve been struck by the degree to which our work on the strategy has caused some concern on our commitment to our European allies. We’re not moving away from Europe. My message is that we will establish an effort to become more influential in the Pacific but that doesn’t mean it has to be at the expense of our common interest in Europe.”—Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, interview in London with the Financial Times, Dec. 1.

… Until You Read This

“I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority. As a result, reductions in US defense spending will not—I repeat, will not—come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.”—President Barack Obama, remarks to Australian Parliament, Canberra, Nov. 17.

National Neuterization

“We cannot have a strong defense without a strong national economy. But we will not solve this problem on the back of the Defense Department or on the defense industry. … I think about sequestration more as fiscal castration. It truly will emasculate the industrial base.”—Brett B. Lambert, US deputy assistant defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy, remarks to a New York investor conference. Reuters, Dec. 1.

Great Power Clash

“It would be extravagant to suggest that the United States and China are about to pick up a shooting war where they left off in [the Korean War]. … But we should be in no doubt, that China and the United States are squaring off for a historic Indo-Pacific confrontation. Even if, for obvious economic reasons, China does not want outright war, few military men of any nationality doubt that the Pacific region is now the most plausible place in the world for a great power clash. … It is hard to exaggerate the threat which this clash of wills poses for peace in Asia, and for us all, in the coming decades.”—British military analyst Max Hastings, The Daily Mail, London, Nov. 26.