May 1, 2006
You Can Ask

“I’m told there’s time for questions and answers. Or at least for questions.”—Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, following his speech at the Truman Museum, Kansas City Star, March 3.

It’s OK, Really

“We make sure there are assurances in place, in general, sufficient to satisfy us that the deal is appropriate from a national security standpoint.”—Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff on a plan, later scuttled, from the Committee on Foreign Investments for a United Arab Emirates company to take over operations at six major US seaports, ABC’s “This Week,” Feb. 19.

The Guard at Home

“The regular and reserve forces should defend our overseas national security interests, but the National Guard should focus on its core mission—homeland defense.”—Joseph E. Muckerman II, director of emergency planning, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1986-92, letter to the Washington Post, Feb. 23.

Generalists for the Long Term

“As you grow in our Air Force, the Air Force will ask more of you. We do not expect someone to enter a career field and spend their 20- or 30-year career doing just that. We expect, as you move through your Air Force career, you will become a generalist who will develop expert knowledge in various fields.”—Gen. William R. Looney III, commander of Air Education and Training Command, speech to Air University students, Air Force Print News, Feb. 28.

Terrorists Keep Coming

“We are not killing them faster than they are being created.”—Army Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Pentagon deputy director for the war on terrorism, Washington Times, March 2.

The “Wartime” Defense Budget

“Just as we strongly support the war on terrorism, we must also recognize that there is no such thing as an unlimited budget. Difficult choices must be made.”—Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Senate Budget Committee chairman, on defense budget that consumes 3.8 percent of GDP, Wall Street Journal, March 10.

Misguided Measure of Merit

“Someone at the Post has a fixation on ‘weapons systems killed’ as proof of leadership ability in the Defense Department. That fixation reduces change in national security to a narrow and inaccurate calculation.”—Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, on tendency to equate good defense management with cancellation of weapons programs, Washington Post op-ed column, March 4.

Peace Buildup

“I wish to emphasize that China is a peace-loving nation. China is committed to a path of peaceful development.”—Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for China’s parliament, as Chinese military budget increases by 14.7 percent this year, Associated Press, March 4.

Marine Corps Not Cuttable

“In a period of instability and uncertainty, we know that there is no technological substitute for boots on the ground. If anything, we need more soldiers and marines, certainly not fewer.”—Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), attacking the idea of downsizing the Marine Corps, Inside the Navy, Feb. 27.

Joint STARS Is Watching

“Think about where you live at home and then think of a place 125 miles from that location. If you were to move out of your driveway and we were orbiting 125 miles away, we would see you move.”—Air National Guard Maj. Thomas Grabowski, senior director of an E-8C Joint STARS surveillance aircraft deployed to Iraq, Air Force Print News, Feb. 24.


“I like to remind people that terrorism is a desperate act. It means all your other options have run out. The Japanese kamikazes appeared at the end of World War II when that empire was on its last legs. The suicidal jihadists have appeared just as self-government and markets and American-backed democratic power have come to dominate the globe over the past 30 years. The jihadists have little political power, no conventional military power, and no economic power. They have had to resort to killing innocent civilians, and more often than not Islamic civilians, and blowing themselves up in the process. That is not a great option for worldly, political success.”—Merrick Carey, Lexington Institute, Feb. 28.

Crossing the Line

“The foreign policy of this Administration has been taken over by people who would do something we’ve never done in our history, and that is to attempt to export our ideology at the point of a gun.”—James H. Webb, Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration, declaring candidacy for US Senate in Virginia Democratic primary, Washington Post, March 8.

Work Rules in Court

“Taken as a whole, the design of these regulations appears to rest on the mistaken premise that Congress intended flexibility to trump collective bargaining rights.”—US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, blocking implementation of Pentagon’s new civilian personnel system, Washington Post, Feb. 28.

A Question of Will

“Nearly 56 years ago, in 1950, the Truman Administration issued what would become a framework for America’s Cold War strategy for four decades. In a formerly classified document called NSC 68, the Truman Administration said, quote, ‘Our fundamental purpose is more likely to be defeated from lack of will to maintain it than from any mistakes we may make or assault we may undergo because of asserting that will,’ unquote. Today our nation is again in a long struggle. And again, the toughest challenge will be to maintain our national will to persevere and to prevail.”—Rumsfeld, Pentagon news briefing, March 7.