April 1, 2014

While America Sleeps

“With the proliferation of more advanced military technologies and other nations pursuing comprehensive military modernization, we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space—not to mention cyberspace—can no longer be taken for granted.” —Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, statement to Senate Armed Services Committee, March 5.

Yo, Adrian! Surrender!

“We’re hoping that Russia will not see this [conflict over Ukraine] as a sort of a continuation of the Cold War. We don’t see it that way. We do not believe this should be an East-West, Russia-United States. This is not Rocky IV.” —Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in lead-up to Russian invasion of Crimea, MSNBC broadcast, Feb. 26.

Zero Means Zero

“Here our Secretary of State is saying this [Russia’s seizure of part of Ukraine] is not the Cold War, it’s ‘win-win,’ and it’s ‘not zero sum.’ But for Vladimir Putin, it is zero sum. That’s what we need to understand.” —Retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former CIA director, quoted in The Daily Beast, March 2.

Boots Back to Barracks

“Armies are like newspapers; they have become 21st century anachronisms. … To judge by outcomes, the Army is not a force for decisive action. It cannot be counted on to achieve definitive results in a timely manner. In Afghanistan and Iraq, actions that momentarily appeared to be decisive served as preludes to protracted and inconclusive wars. … What role, then, remains for the United States Army? The honorable and necessary one of defending this country. For that task, absent the emergence of a major Mexican or Canadian threat, a smaller Army should serve just fine.” —Retired Army Col. Andrew J. Bacevich, op-ed titled, “Do We Really Need a Large Army?” Washington Post, Feb. 27.

Rhetorical Question of the Day

“If our rockets are good enough for NASA, why aren’t they good enough for the Air Force? It makes no sense. We are ready to compete.” —Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, calling for more competition in Air Force launcher procurement, Senate hearing, March 5.

Bomber Costs, Explained

“We get a lot of questions on [unit cost of the next generation bomber]. Is it going to be $550 million a copy? No, of course it’s not going to be $550 million a copy, once you add in everything. … What it will be is $550 million in design constraints. … That limits the technology you bring in. It limits certain parameters and certain capabilities. By definition, we have used a cost-controlled approach.” —USAF Lt. Gen. Charles R. Davis, military deputy for acquisition, remarks to Aviation Week Defense Technologies and Requirements Conference, March 5.

Dare Call It Dereliction

“Is Afghanistan less of a threat to the United States than it was 13 years ago? Is it a better place than it was 13 years ago? Is America safer than it was on September 10th, 2001? Take a good, hard look at what’s actually been happening out there, and each of those answers come back, ‘Yes.’ … Even though the way that this White House has run this war has been outrageous—with White House staffers telling four-star generals their business—there has been unmistakable progress. … What I find astounding is that the President won’t acknowledge these victories. I’m astounded he won’t give this speech. … If the troops fight for the mission abroad, the President better fight for their mission here at home. Anything less is a dereliction of duty.” —Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, speech to the National Press Club, Feb. 24.

Rich Man, Poor Man

“The White House made clear last week that it had no interest in Social Security reform, citing budget projections showing a shrinking deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio. This week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rolled out a budget that would shrink the Army to pre-World War II levels, on the excuse that the Pentagon needs to recognize ‘the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges.’ So we’re rolling in dough when it comes to entitlements. … Yet we’re out of cash for defense. This is the policy combination that has made much of Europe bankrupt and defenseless at the same time.” —House editorial, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28.

Uhhhhhhh … Why


Let’s Keep Negotiating!

“I can tell you that Iran’s nuclear program will remain intact. We will not close any program.” —Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on proposals to halt Iran’s nuclear effort, to reporters in New Delhi, Feb. 27.

Well, It’s Settled, Then

“The men don’t want to lower the standards [for women to qualify for the combat arms], because they see that as a … risk to their team. The women don’t want to lower the standards, because they want the men to know they’re just as able as they are to do the same task.” —David Brinkley, Army Training and Doctrine Command, Associated Press dispatch, Feb. 25.

Catastrophe Takes a Holiday

“Shrinking the future military contains real risks, as a smaller force, no matter how ready or technologically advanced, can go to fewer places and do fewer things, especially when confronted by multiple contingencies or a scenario in which mass is required. However, attempting to retain a larger force in the face of potential sequester level cuts would create, in effect, a decade-long modernization holiday on top of the program cancellations and delays already made. And while the odds of a major conflict against another technologically advanced military power are relatively low, the consequences of being unprepared for such a contingency could be catastrophic.” —Christine H. Fox, acting deputy secretary of defense, remarks at American Enterprise Institute forum, Feb. 26.