Sept. 1, 2012

Farewell Assessment

“We have more backup [nuclear weapon] systems … than we actually have deployed. Some of that is a reasonable hedge, [but] there is probably room for reductions.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF (Ret.), former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, farewell interview with the Boston Globe, Aug. 6.

For the Long Haul

“[Sexual assault] just has the potential to rip the fabric of your force apart. I think it is doing that to a certain extent now. … I’m not an expert in this. I don’t know how to fix it, but I won’t quit working on it.”—Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, new USAF Chief of Staff, commenting on the expanding sex scandal involving Air Force trainers at JBSA-Lackland, Tex., interview with Stars and Stripes, Aug. 3.

Needed: Manned Aircraft

“We’re training … more [remotely piloted aircraft] aviators than we are bomber and fighter pilots. … Ultimately, it is conceivable that the majority of aviators in our Air Force will be remotely piloted aircraft operators, [but] … manned aviation will be a part of the chemistry here, because, at least for the near term, the remotely piloted aircraft capability is not for contested airspace. It is a benign airspace capability. … I would estimate at least for a generation-and-a-half, 30 years probably, maybe—maybe more, probably not less.”—Schwartz, farewell Pentagon news conference, July 24.

98 Percent Solution

“We were about two percent high in terms of our estimate—a huge amount of money—but looked at another way, we were 98 percent correct. … Back over 10 years, we’ve often underestimated the amount, so we’re not perfect, but 98 percent, two years in advance? That was an ‘A’ when I went to school.”—Pentagon Comptroller Robert F. Hale, discussing how DOD overbudgeted for military health care expenses and wound up with a surplus in 2012,, Aug. 2.

Time Is Running Out

“However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them. Right now, the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. This must change, and it must change quickly, because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out. … You yourself said a few months ago that, when all else fails, America will act, but these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, remarks directed at Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, news conference in Israel, Aug. 1.

Definitive Panetta

“I want to reassert again the position of the United States that, with regard to Iran, we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Period. We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, same news conference in Israel, Aug. 1.

High Confidence

“In the end, there is no smoking gun [concerning F-22 oxygen problems]. We have assembled the pieces of the mosaic. They reside in the cockpit … in the upper pressure garment, in the oxygen delivery hoses, in the quick connection points, and for a short time, in the air filter canister. As we completed end-to-end testing in the life support systems components, we were able to piece together the contributing factors for our previously unexplained incidents. … I have high confidence that we have eliminated the major contributors to our problem.”—Maj. Gen. Charles W. Lyon, Air Combat Command director of operations, Aug. 1 Pentagon news conference.

Is Anybody Surprised

“Kofi Annan turned in his resignation as United Nations special envoy to Syria on Thursday, but his mission was over months ago. It was doomed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was never serious about peace and determined to crush the opposition, and by his chief backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The five months that Mr. Annan devoted to talk, with the ill-considered backing of the Obama Administration, simply gave Mr. Assad more time to wage war.”—Editorial, Washington Post, Aug. 2.

As Always, Free and Useless

“My Departing Advice On How To Save Syria”—Title of essay by Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general, Nobel peace laureate, and failed special envoy for Syria, Financial Times, Aug. 2.

Rearranging the Rocks

“The right course is not to spend time moving around rocks at the bottom of the cliff to make for a less painful landing. The right course is to avoid driving off the cliff altogether.”—Jeffrey D. Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, remarks opposing the idea of planning for a possible defense sequester, House Armed Services Committee, Aug. 1.

Don’t Say. Be.

“If Congress decides to retain force structure, … you have to provide the resources to operate that force structure. There’s nothing worse—and some of us who’ve been around a little long have seen this picture before—[than] where you have too much structure and not enough money. That is the path to a hollow force. That is not where we want to go. Our young people who have been in the fight for more than 10 years know the difference between saying we’re good and being good, and we definitely want to be the latter, not the former.”—Schwartz, “This Week in Defense News,” July 26.

China’s Eye

” ‘Peaceful’ is in the eye of the beholder. The Chinese military is thinking of space in ways that would threaten US space assets. …The Chinese military has concluded that winning the next war requires the ability to establish space dominance and superiority.”—Dean Cheng, analyst of Chinese security affairs at the Heritage Foundation, McClatchy Newspapers, July 17.

Flying Blind

“Cost [of the F-35A fighter] is a major concern. If we can’t clearly identify how much this airplane will cost to buy and to fly after we acquire it, then we really have no idea how many airplanes we can afford or how many we should expect to receive. Pressure on the company [Lockheed Martin], on the acquisition process internal to the department is mandatory. We have to stay focused and … that would be a daily event for me.”—Welsh, remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee, July 19.