Nov. 1, 2013

Worst Case Is Pretty Bad

“This is fundamentally terra incognita. … I don’t think we’ve seen electronic warfare on a scale that we’d see in a US-China confrontation. I doubt very much they are behind us when it comes to electronic warfare, [and] the Chinese are training every day on cyber: all those pings, all those attacks, all those attempts to penetrate. … Where there has been a fundamental difference, and perhaps the Chinese are better than we are at this, is the Chinese seem to have kept cyber and electronic warfare as a single integrated thing. We are only now coming around to the idea that electronic warfare is linked to computer network operations. … [The worst case] is that you thought your jammers, your sensors, everything was working great, and the next thing you know, missiles are penetrating [your defenses], planes are being shot out of the sky.”—Heritage Foundation research fellow Dean Cheng, describing a growing Chinese military challenge, interview with, Oct. 1.

A Really Good Use of Aircraft

“It was really amazing to see an F-16 take off with nobody in it. They’re basically built to be shot down. It’s full-scale, real-world, real-life, combat training—not with a simulator or anything else.”—Boeing’s Michelle Shelhamer, on first test flight in Florida of a special robotic F-16 transformed into a drone, Agence France-Presse, Sept. 25.

Weather Forecast

“There are many of us who believe that we will save money when we go to a more resilient architecture because we can use smaller satellites. We could do with a lot less weather [satellite] investment than we had.”—Douglas L. Loverro, deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy, referring to the likely shape of the next generation Air Force weather satellite,, Sept. 26.

Falling Short

“Why does the Pentagon order troops to return to combat zones again and again, with so little time to recover and recuperate between deployments? The answer is clear: because a relatively small Army configured to fight short wars that it confidently expected to win has found itself fighting interminably long, unwinnable wars. Do the math. We’ve got too much war for too few warriors. Reducing the incidence of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and suicide among the soldiers they profess to care about will require two things of general officers. First, they will need to recover their ability to achieve prompt and conclusive victory in wars that absolutely must be fought. Second, they will need to do a better job of persuading their political masters to avoid needless wars that can’t be won. … In recent years, of course, senior military leaders have manifestly fallen short on both counts, with soldiers paying the price for their failure.”—Former Army Col. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., author of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, Washington Post, Sept. 27.

Get Rid of the Warlords

“The Pentagon should close all of the [regional combatant] commands. … First, they are redundant. When there is actual fighting to do, we create new commands under three- or four-star officers to manage combat in theater. … Second, the commands are essentially lobbies for US involvement in their regions. Their commanders turn threats to regional stability into threats to American security. … Third, the commands drive up force requirements and thus costs. Like children drafting Christmas lists, they request troops, ships, and future capabilities that others buy. … Closing down our commands … would prevent the accumulation of cost-driving force ‘requirements.’ It would help US diplomats manage the cacophony of official American voices articulating our regional policy. It would limit our tendency to fear any region that lacks US meddling, and [it] might even encourage the idea that the world is not entirely ours to command.”—Benjamin H. Friedman, Cato Institute, and Harvey M. Sapolsky, MIT professor emeritus, Defense News, Sept. 30.

Our Job: We Hold Your Coat

“It’s not breaking news that the US provides the bulk of our [NATO] military force, but American taxpayers would like to know that the Europeans are also contributing to our joint military effort in a way that ensures a fair burden sharing across the Atlantic. … Though the United States can carry out major military operations on her own, still there is the need for ensuring political legitimacy through collective action. In that respect, the United States profits greatly from having a strong trans-Atlantic relationship with NATO.”—NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, interview with USA Today, Sept. 25.

Self-Defense Is Hell

“Japan has the strongest navy and air force in Asia except for the United States. … Japan, that’s correct, absolutely. The most modern, the most effective. [They’re] still restricted by Article 9 of the Constitution [forever renouncing war as a sovereign right] but you don’t want to mess with them.”—Military analyst Larry M. Wortzel, address to the Institute of World Politics, quoted by, Sept. 26.

Shootout at Generation Gap

“In congressional testimony, … Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that readiness ‘has no constituency other than the young soldier, sailor, airman, or marine putting his or her life on the line for our nation’s security interests.’ Winnefeld’s statement reveals that readiness does, indeed, have a constituency. The current force and those who lead it are strong and vocal proponents of preparedness for good reason: If readiness suffers, they are the ones who will bear the consequences. But senior leaders should instead be concerned that the future may not have a strong constituency. The next generation of service members—our children and grandchildren—have no say in the decisions made today, yet they are the ones who will live with the repercussions. Who will speak for their interests, and what type of military will they inherit?”—Todd Harrison, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, op-ed in Foreign Affairs, Sept. 29.