Jan. 1, 2014

Strangelove Strategy

“I don’t think it’s [US-Iran war] inevitable, but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don’t do it with boots on the ground. You do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it, with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.”—Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee, interview on C-Span, Dec. 4.

Eternal Life, Found

“There is one great numerical advantage the US has against potential adversaries. … That is the size of our defense bureaucracy. While the fighting forces have steadily shrunk by more than half since the early 1990s, the civilian and uniformed bureaucracy has more than doubled. … There are currently more than 1,500,000 full-time civilian employees in the Defense Department—800,000 civil servants and 700,000 contract employees. Today, more than half of our Active Duty servicemen and women serve in offices on staffs. … The constant growth of the bureaucracy has resulted from reform initiatives from Congress and by executive order, each of which established a new office or expanded an existing one. These new layers have accumulated every year since the founding of the Department of Defense in 1947. … Each expansion of the bureaucracy is, to paraphrase President Reagan, the nearest thing to eternal life to be found on Earth.”—Former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr., op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9

The China Syndrome

“We … are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea. This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation.”—Vice President Joe Biden on China’s new air defense identification zone, remarks in Tokyo, Dec. 3.

… Or Its Purpose

“We know there will be an Army in 2030. But we don’t know its composition or size.”—Rickey Smith, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center,, Dec. 1.

Eye on the Prize

“We don’t exist to fight a counter-insurgency fight. We can help in that, but major air forces exist to fight a full-spectrum conflict against a well-armed, well-trained, determined foe. And if we can’t do that for the nation, then I don’t think we’re doing our job.”—Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAF Chief of Staff, Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., Nov. 13.

Our Fair Academy

“It was like a spy movie. I worked on dozens of cases, did a lot of good, and when it all hit the fan, they didn’t know me anymore.”—Eric Thomas, Air Force Academy cadet ordered to inform on fellow cadets but later expelled for actions required to do so, Colorado Springs Gazette, Dec. 1.

Best-Laid Plans

“I’m all for a short, brief, precise, limited, controlled conflict, … but we should certainly have the depth available in the Active [Duty force], Guard, and Reserve in order to account for the very good possibility that we won’t be able to control it. … There is hubris in the belief that war can be controlled. War punishes hubris.”—Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, at Reagan Library Defense Forum, Simi Valley, Calif., Nov. 16.

Substandard Policy

“We clearly have degraded readiness in the military right now. What we’ve done is greatly raise the deductible. If you never have to make a claim, you won’t notice it. If you have to make a claim, if there is a major contingency operation, I think we will regret what we’ve had to do.”—Pentagon comptroller Robert F. Hale, remarks to the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C., Defense News, Nov. 20.

Through the Looking Glass

“Morale was low at times—very low. … We all acknowledge their importance [nuclear weapons], but at the same time we really don’t think the mission is that critical. … We practice for all-out nuclear war, but we know that isn’t going to happen.”—Andrew Neal, former Minuteman III launch officer at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., Associated Press, Nov. 12.

Huge Malevolence

“I think terror is up worldwide. The statistics indicate that. The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs. … There are bombs that go through magnetometers. … There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there.”—Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee, interview on CNN, Dec. 1.

Cough It Up, Iran

“We must avoid an outcome in which Iran, freed from an onerous sanctions regime, emerges as a de facto nuclear power leading an Islamist camp. … We should be open to the possibility of pursing an agenda of long-term cooperation. But not without Iran dismantling or mothballing a strategically significant portion of its nuclear infrastructure.”—Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, former Secretaries of State, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2.

Don’t Be Late

“If we’re not ready for all possible scenarios, then we’re accepting the notion that it’s OK to get to the fight late. We’re accepting the notion that the joint team may take longer to win, and we’re accepting the notion that our warfighters will be placed at greater risk. We should never accept those notions.”—Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAF Chief of Staff, testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, Nov. 7.

Pluses and Minuses

“Morale is really as bad as I’ve seen it—on the civilian side and the uniformed side. But it is better than you think it is, and better than we deserve it to be.”—Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, remarks to the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14.

Revenge of the Nerds

“The ratio of ‘checkers’ to ‘doers’ in this department is way too high. You can’t have a management environment where there are more people looking over the shoulders of people doing real work than there are people doing real work.”—Former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29.

Cockroaches, Ahoy!

“It’s like finding a couple of cockroaches in the kitchen when you turn on the light. This suggests that this area of contracting is infested with problems.”—Charles Tiefer, former member of commission on defense contracting, on recent bribery scandals in the Navy’s ship supply network, New York Times, Nov. 29.