Sept. 1, 2000

Remembering Aug. 2, 1990

“Kuwait is free. It’s rebuilt. It has a thriving economy. Its citizens travel all over the world. Iraq is contained. It has a broken economy. It is an isolated state. And I think that’s the fundamental difference between Iraq and Kuwait and probably the fundamental accomplishment [of US military action in the Gulf] over the last 10 years.”-DoD spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon, in Aug. 1 Pentagon news conference.

Androgynous Zones

“The ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ is now the mantra of those who seek remote, clinical, and surgical solutions to what has traditionally been a close-in, chaotic, and bloody brawl. This has weakened the concept of the warrior, as the androgynous technician has gained ascendency in some quarters.”-Bernard E. “Mick” Trainor, retired Marine Corps general, in Aug. 2 Wall Street Journal.

Non-Pure War

“I don’t think the armed forces in our country should assume, as matter of sort of staff college training, that, when you go into one of these operations, you’re going to be given carte blanche–‘Bomb anything you want; get the mission done.’ It doesn’t work that way. It’s not pure war. …

“Now, I think one of the reasons the armed forces–and, in particular, the Air Force planners-had difficulty [accepting the plan for Operation Allied Force] was because we’d been to school on Desert Storm. Desert Storm was an entirely different battlefield. It was a battlefield that was clean; it was clean of civilians, mostly clean of refugees, clean of vegetation, mostly purely visible. It was pretty much clean of media, too. I would suggest to you that you have to be prepared in the future to fight on cluttered battlefields, where there are civilians, … where there’s tough vegetation, where there’s tough weather. It’s a much more challenging operational environment.”-Gen. Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, in June 8 remarks at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Butchers of Brussels

“NATO has claimed that its air campaign against [Yugoslavia] was ‘the most precise and lowest-collateral-damage air campaign in history.’ However, Amnesty International has serious concerns. … Amnesty International believes that-whatever their intentions–NATO forces did commit serious violations of the laws of war, leading in a number of cases to the unlawful killings of civilians.”-Amnesty International, in June 5 report, ” ‘Collateral Damage’ or Unlawful Killings? Violations of the Laws of War by NATO During Operation Allied Force.”

We Feel Much Better

“One of the things people need to remember is that local school districts really have jurisdiction in terms of their educational policy. We are not throwing the military out. We’re throwing military recruiters out.”-Elaine Koury, San Francisco school district spokesperson, in May 29 Washington Times article about how some public schools ban military recruitment on campus.

Double Vision

“I’m worried about the [defense] industry, because we now have a small number of very large organizations, and I know that there’s a great deal of concern about that competitive base. We really now have only two companies that build fighter aircraft, and I share the concern over that, and that concern is valid.

“I’ll make a prediction, however. The two production lines we have now, if my guess is right, could both be gone 10 years from now, and the reason is that we’ll be building entirely different kinds of aircraft–namely robotic that won’t have pilots in them–controlled by airplanes like AWACS that do have people on them but that are way out of the line of fire.”-Hans Mark, director of defense research and engineering, as quoted by reporter Ann Roosevelt in May 30 Defense Week.

The 20 Percent Solution

“The Marine Corps is trying hard to reduce the high casualty rates suffered by the infantry in urban warfare. A year ago, officers were startled in one exercise to have units lose an average of 38 percent of their troops in each day of simulated city fighting. … In a round of exercises last month, the Marines cut the simulated casualty rate to below 20 percent.”-Item in May 29 Washington Post.

Dogs of War

“[US leaders] need to understand what limitations our [alliance or coalition] partners are going to place on us. When you’re the big dog and one of the puppies tells you what you can and cannot do, that’s a real hard way to do business. … If your partner says you can’t bomb except between 2:00 in the morning and 4:00 in the morning, maybe you don’t want him as a partner, maybe you don’t want him on your team. … The big dog should not accept some degree of compromise that places our people in harm’s way and makes the fight long.”-Lt. Gen. Michael C. Short, USAF (Ret.), former commander of NATO air forces in Kosovo, in May 12 speech at American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

My 2nd Grader Probably Couldn’t Do It, Either

“Something strange is happening in the vice president’s cabin as his jet flies from Chicago to Washington. Al Gore is uncharacteristically animated. … ‘Want to see what happens when you have a military contractor get you a VCR?’ Gore asks a visitor, then leaps to his feet to demonstrate the custom-built Air Force Two machine. It is a baffling assortment of flashing colored buttons and mysterious commands. ‘Whichever one you press, it’s the wrong one,’ Gore says, trying several buttons until a flashing airplane appears, but no movie.”-Item in July 26 Washington Post.