Nov. 1, 2012

Our Entitled Allies

“The leader of the local [Afghan] police … insisted that a nearby compound be blown up because enemy snipers used it. The Bravo Company platoon commander, [Marine] Lt. Kurt Hoenig, explained that only the Afghan district chief could make that decision. In that case, the local leader retorted, his men would not patrol anymore. … Over the past decade, an attitude of entitlement has taken hold among Afghans, many of whom believe the Americans need them more than they need the Americans. This explains how an obscure hamlet leader could demand that the Marines do his bidding. Lieutenant Hoenig handled the situation perfectly. He agreed that the local police didn’t have to patrol with the marines. They could stay behind in Taliban territory, without Marine protection, instead. The police rejoined the patrol.”—Author Bing West, reporting on a patrol with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, in Afghanistan, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1.

Amazing Grace

“Before, they were blind, deaf, and dumb. Now we’re beginning to make them to see, hear, and sense.”—US Air Force Chief Scientist Mark T. Maybury, on the creation of autonomous, self-directing remotely piloted aircraft, Agence France-Presse, Sept. 28.

See: 12/7/41, 9/11/01 …

“There will likely be military action, probably after the US elections, with or without the help of the US. [Israel fears that the] US will accept [political] containment of Iran despite it having nuclear weapons. That’s not a good choice in the case of Iran because the regime is very unpredictable. I believe Obama when he says he won’t allow Iranian nuclear weapons, but the US red line is an actual break-out. But will they have that information? You can find a lot of cases when intelligence didn’t provide the answer in time.”—Ephraim Asculai, senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, quoted in Aviation Week, Oct. 1.

An Offer He Can’t Refuse

“I’ll take whatever the hell deal they can make right now to deal with sequestration. The problem now is that they’ve [members of Congress] left town and all of this has now been put off into the lame-duck session.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, remarks to Pentagon reporters about lack of progress on stopping sequestration cuts, Sept. 27.

Drawing the Line

“I’m mad as hell about them. … You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”—USMC Gen. John R. Allen, head of the NATO force in Afganistan, commenting on “insider” Afghan attacks on NATO troops, CBS “60 Minutes,” Sept. 30.

Confucius Meets Dr. Strangelove

“The countries of Asia … have identified grave threats to the national interest in the tiny outcrops and shoals scattered off their coasts. The summer has seen a succession of maritime disputes involving China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines. This week, there were more anti-Japanese riots in cities across China because of a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands known to the Japanese as the Senkakus and to the Chinese as the Diaoyus. … Amid heated rhetoric on both sides, one Chinese newspaper has helpfully suggested skipping the pointless diplomacy and moving straight to the main course by serving up Japan with an atom bomb.”—Article titled, “Could Asia Really Go to War Over These?”, The Economist, Sept. 22.

Evil Science

“The pace of the scientific development is so rapid, and trying to understand where adversaries may try to use that advancement—in, say, biotechnology, synthetic biology, genetic engineering—how it may be misused, is what we have to try to anticipate. And that’s where we don’t have a good crystal ball. … It is evolving and it is changing, and that is a challenge that we face. What a decade ago may have [been] impossible is now within the realm of feasibility for bad actors, to use, say, enhanced agents or new agents from a chemical and biological domain, to cause us harm.”—Gerald W. Parker, top Pentagon official for chemical and biological defense, interview with, Sept. 24.

Giving the Guard Its Due

“Last Friday, Gen. Craig McKinley hung it up. Forty years of service to our nation. The first Air Guardsman to wear four stars. The first National Guard Bureau Chief to be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That’s a pretty good résumé, folks. And you know, that last point’s an important one, because when the Congress made that appointment of Craig to be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—over the objections of virtually every Active Duty leader—it sent a very clear message that I think we need to keep in mind moving forward. That’s that, quite possibly, the National Guard today is more important than it has been since you stood the watch at Concord.”—Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAF Chief of Staff, address to the National Guard Association of the United States, Sept. 11.

Going Straight to Hell

“We don’t have a vision [of victory in Afghanistan]. … What happens when you leave? Tell me a scenario where we’re safer by pulling the plug on Afghanistan. I can’t envision a scenario that doesn’t lead to holy hell … and I can’t envision a scenario where another 9/11 doesn’t come about.”—Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), commenting on Obama Administration policy in Afghanistan to news reporters, Sept. 19.

Ready, Fire, Aim

“I still twitch when I say, ‘cyber.’ I’m a believer. I’m just not sure we know exactly what we’re doing in it yet, and until we do, I’m concerned it’s a black hole.”—Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAF Chief of Staff, AFA Air & Space Conference, Sept. 18.

Well, If You Insist …

“If any international court declares me guilty for announcing the bounty, then I am ready to be hanged in the name of the holy prophet Muhammad.”—Pakistani official Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, who offered a $100,000 reward for killing the maker of an anti-Islamic video, remarks to reporters, Sept. 22.