SCAMS AND NON-SCAMS
“Since the 1990s, countries have reported 18 seizures of weapon-usable nuclear material in various quantities. This included several seizures of highly enriched uranium in Georgia and Moldova in the 2000s. On at least a couple of occasions, Chechen groups in Russia … have also tried to employ ‘dirty bombs,’ though so far unsuccessfully. … We cannot be sure how much R/N [radiological/nuclear] material is already out there on the black market. There are a great many nuclear material scams out there, but not everything is a scam, and there have been enough real cases to make clear that we must take this challenge very seriously indeed.”—Asst. Secretary of State Christopher A. Ford, International Security and Nonproliferation, speech to a nuclear security conference published on Oct. 1.
“According to the mullahs in Tehran, we are ‘the Great Satan,’ ‘Lord of the Underworld,’ ‘Master of the Raging Inferno.’ So, I might imagine they would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive. … Yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.”—John Bolton, President Donald J. Trump’s national security adviser, prepared remarks for delivery to the group United Against Nuclear Iran, Sept. 25.
“Russia must return to compliance with the INF Treaty or the US will need to respond to its cavalier disregard of the treaty’s specific limits. Make no mistake: The current situation, with Russia in blatant violation of this treaty, is untenable. … We are trying to bring them back into compliance. Now is the time. It’s gone on long enough.”—Secretary of Defense James Mattis, prepared remarks to reporters in Brussels, Oct. 4. He referred to Moscow’s pursuit of a new cruise missile banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
“Hey, let’s get the five services that we currently have back to readiness levels that the American people think we should have. … Nobody thinks we’re at the readiness levels that we should be. Then, once we get there, then we can talk about the Space Force.”—Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Senate Armed Services Committee member and critic of the concept of building a separate US space service, washingtonexaminer.com, Oct. 1.
LAST THINGS FIRST?
“I think that, if there were a US Space Command like there used to be, it would obviate the need for [an independent] Space Force. When you have one command focused on that area, I think it brings a focus to it that’s important. I think the investment to re-establish US Space Command makes a lot of sense.”—Retired USAF Gen. Richard B. Myers, former Commander of US Space Command (1998-2000) and later Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2001-05), interview with Aerospace America, Sept. 25.
BARRIERS ARE ERODING
“When Iran fires a ballistic missile from its homeland against a target in a foreign country, this means that Iran is not afraid of the prospects of retaliation, and has probably calculated that it will be safe. So we are going to a point in the Middle East, very quickly, where the threshold for Iran’s use of force is continuing to drop, as the accuracy of Iran’s missiles is continuing to grow.”—Iran expert Behnam Ben Taleblu, commenting on Iran’s Oct. 1 missile strike into Syria, voanews.com, Oct. 2.
“It [women in infantry] is a very, very tough issue. … We have Army, Navy, Marines, all looking at it as we speak. … The close-quarters fight being what it is, … is it a strength or a weakness to have women in that circumstance? … So few women have signed up along these lines, we don’t even have data at this time.—Clearly the jury is out on it.”—Secretary of Defense James Mattis, remarks at Virginia Military Institute, in response to a cadet’s question about the wisdom of having women serve in infantry units, Sept. 25.
“Particularly concerning is the prospect of an authoritarian country, such as Russia or China, overtaking the United States in AI [artificial intelligence]. … In general, authoritarian regimes like Russia and China have not been focused on the ethical implications of AI in warfare and will likely not have guidelines against more bellicose uses of AI, such as in autonomous weapons systems.”—From “Rise of the Machines,” a study of AI by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), published Sept. 25.
THE BEAR IN THE WATER
“Russia has renewed its capabilities in the North Atlantic and the Arctic, in places not seen since the Cold War. For example, Russian forces have recently reoccupied seven for their former Soviet Union bases [north of] the Arctic Circle. The improved capability of Russia to be able to project power into this region—and these strategic routes from the Arctic into the North Atlantic and the GIUK [Greenland-Iceland-UK] Gap—is something that we need to pay particular attention to. We know that Russian submarines are in the Atlantic, testing our defenses, challenging our command of the seas, and preparing a very complex underwater battlespace to try to give them an edge in any future conflict. We need to deny them that edge. … [R]ussia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and sometimes confrontational ways.”—Adm. James G. Foggo III, head of US Naval Forces in Europe, quoted in usni.org, Oct. 3.
THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT
“We are in Syria [to fight ISIS]. … What we want to do is make certain that ISIS does not come back. … Getting rid of the caliphate doesn’t mean you then blindly say, ‘OK, we got rid of it,’ march out. … As part of this overarching problem, we have to address Iran. Everywhere you go in the Middle East, where there’s instability, you will find Iran.”—Secretary of Defense James Mattis, remarks to reporters about when US forces might be able to leave Syria, Sept. 24
“What [the Chinese] are waging against us is, fundamentally, a cold war—a cold war not like we saw during the Cold War, but a cold war by definition. [China is] a country that exploits all avenues of power—licit and illicit, public and private, economic and military—to undermine the standing of [its] rival, relative to its own standing, without resorting to conflict.”—Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA East Asia and Pacific Mission Center, quoted in Stars and Stripes, Oct. 2.