March 1, 2012

Knocked Off Balance

“The Air Force’s definition of ‘balanced’ cuts tilts heavily against the nation’s most experienced and cost-effective flying units. Despite claims last week that reductions to Air Force aircraft and personnel would be ‘balanced’ across the active component, the National Guard, and the Reserves, the Air National Guard is apparently taking the bulk of the cuts. This not only squanders the opportunity to … retain combat capability at a time when reductions must be made, it reduces the Air Force’s ability to quickly respond to unforeseen contingencies in the future.”—Statement of retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., president of the National Guard Association of the US, Feb. 3.

Fighter Malpractice …

“Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice. It should not have been done. … So we’re finding problems with all three of the variants. … I think there’s been a tendency to start too early in some cases, and the F-35 is probably an extreme example of that.”—Frank Kendall, acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, remarks at Center for Strategic and International Studies, Feb. 6.

… And a Get-Well Plan

“As part of a management decision on the F-35 program, we have determined that we are not ready to ramp up to full rate production. So we’ve depressed the rate of procurement for a few years while we work through the concurrency issues still present in that program. But we remain fully committed to the F-35, as the deputy has outlined—all three variants.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, remarks during a Pentagon press briefing, Feb. 3.

Reality, Not Rhetoric

“The capabilities afforded by the Air Force require investment. Major recapitalization was deferred for the past 20 years, yielding a fleet that averages a quarter of a century in age. … While other branches within the Department of Defense experienced significant growth in the post-9/11 environment, the Air Force’s share of the budget declined below 20 percent—a record low. Key modernization efforts were canceled [and] often derided as “Cold War” relics, and major portions of the fleet were filled with aircraft optimized for the permissive environments of Afghanistan and Iraq. In truth, this approach emphasized short-term operational demands over long-term global realities. … The credible projection of effective power requires more than rhetoric. Capabilities and capacity matter.”—Letter to Senate Armed Services Committee leaders from 14 retired military and civilian Air Force leaders, Jan. 26.

Iran, Sooner or Later

“If sanctions don’t achieve the desired goal of stopping [Iran’s] military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action. … A nuclear Iran will be more complicated to deal with, more dangerous and more costly in blood than if it were stopped today. In other words, he who says, … ‘later,’ may find that ‘later’ is too late.”—Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, remarks at the Herzliya Conference, quoted in The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3.

In the Driver’s Seat

“Washington and Jerusalem are at last operating from a common timetable—Iran is within a year of getting to the point when it will be able to assemble a bomb essentially at will. And speaking of timetables, Jerusalem knows that Mr. Obama will be hard-pressed to oppose an Israeli strike … before election day. … That means that from here until November the US traffic light has gone from red to yellow. And Israelis aren’t exactly famous for stopping at yellow lights.”—Foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Feb. 7.

Panetta’s Razor

“I don’t have any hard evidence, so I can’t say it for a fact. There’s nothing that proves the case. But as I said, my personal view is that somebody, somewhere probably had that knowledge.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, on whether Pakistani officials knew of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, CBS News program “60 Minutes,” Jan. 29.

Let’s Get Small

“The best choice [and] course of action for us is to become smaller in order to project a high-quality and ready force that will continue to modernize.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, remarks during a Pentagon news conference, Feb. 3.

Big Talk From Brother Al

“From now onward, we will support and help any nations, any groups, fighting against the Zionist regime across the world, and we are not afraid of declaring this. The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off. And it definitely will be cut off.”—Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top leader, “prayer lecture” at Tehran University, quoted in Washington Post, Feb. 4.

Darkness at Noon

“The pattern in the US is not to do anything until there’s a disaster. The way we’re going to find out if someone has the capability [to launch a devastating cyber attack] is we’ll wake up one day and the lights won’t work.”—James A. Lewis, technology expert at Center for Strategic and International Studies, quoted by, Jan. 31.

No MAD, or No MAS

“We will get a missile defense agreement for cooperation with Russia. … I believe missile defense is the metaphor for the opportunity of getting things right [in US-Russia relations]. It has been an irritant … for over 30 years. … Almost everything else that you work with on European security has been settled—settled, decided, and worked on by others together for decades. The only thing that’s new, where you can bring the Russians in, is missile defense. … This is the place where we can actually begin [to] put aside the Cold War and ‘mutually assured destruction’ and move toward ‘mutually assured stability.’ “—Ellen O. Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control, remarks to the Defense Writers Group, Jan. 12.

The Wahhabi Bomb

“If we … fail to convince Israel to give up its nuclear arsenal and also fail to convince Iran not to acquire a nuclear arsenal, then it is incumbent on us Gulf states to study all the available options, including the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.”—Saudi Prince Turki Faisal, former intelligence chief, quoted in The Times of London, Jan. 23.