March 1, 2007
They Fought (Virtually) Alone

“My Army has been underfunded for more than half a century. The Army’s slice of the total defense budget has remained steady at about a quarter on the dollar since the Korean War. Today, the Air Force receives 36 percent of the weapons-buying budget, the Navy 33 percent, the Army 16 percent, and defense agencies 15 percent. Yet except for the 1999 Balkan war, soldiers and marines have done virtually all of the killing and dying since the end of World War II.”—Ret. Army Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, former commander of the Army War College, op-ed column, Washington Times, Jan. 10.

Parochial Fixation

“The wedge issue—promulgated by those who have evidently forgotten how service parochialisms lead to catastrophic failures—is the perceived necessity to increase the size of the land forces at the expense of the Air Force and the Navy. … Missing from this argument is any concern for the military’s overall health or the insidious consequences of rekindling service rivalries. Missing also is any consideration of the dire straits the Air Force is in as a consequence of 16 years of continuous combat with zero recapitalization of its battle-worn equipment.”—Lani Kass, professor of military strategy at the National War College, op-ed column, Washington Times, Jan. 9.

What Went Wrong

“Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.” —President George W. Bush, address to the nation, Jan. 10.

Too Many Approvers

“If the military measures we take in Iraq must first be approved by Iraqi politicians and the editorial board of the New York Times, we will not succeed even if we double the number of troops.”—Jack Kelly, syndicated columnist and former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 7.

Precondition for Success

“During my visit to Iraq last month, it was clear that security is the precondition for political progress and economic development. Until the government and its coalition allies can protect the population, the Iraqi people will increasingly turn to extra-governmental forces, especially Sunni and Shiite militias, for protection. Only when the government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force will its authority have meaning, and only when authority has meaning can political activity have the results we seek.”—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), op-ed column, Washington Post, Jan. 7.

Shali Changes His Mind

“I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.”—Ret. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, op-ed column, New York Times, Jan. 2.

Seamless Total Air Force

“The reason the Air Guard and the Air Reserve work so well is they keep those forces resourced at 100 percent C-1 status every day of the week. Because, as General [Michael] Moseley [USAF Chief of Staff] said, he doesn’t know who’s going to be flying a mission. He doesn’t have to worry about what status they’re in because he knows he’s got a resourced force. They’ve got the equipment; they got the training.”—Ret. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro, chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, commission hearing, Dec. 14.

Ford Disagreed

“Rumsfeld and Cheney and the President made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction. And now, I’ve never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do. … And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security.”—Former Pres. Gerald R. Ford, statement embargoed until after Ford’s death, reported by Bob Woodward, Washington Post, Dec. 28.

Foot in the Trap

“I don’t think increasing the troops helps us get our foot out of the trap—it just puts 20,000 more targets on the ground. … My going-in strategy would be to disengage, not on a known timetable because it gives too many options to the enemy, but set a course for disengagement out of there, knowing full well what will follow will be a disaster. But there is going to be a disaster anyway.”—Ret. Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff, Southern Oregon Mail Tribune, Jan. 10.

Strategic Thinkers

“Our Army is deployed globally, but our generals never seem to acquire the knack of thinking beyond the threat hypnotizing them at the moment (the Marines, with their stepbrother ties to the Navy, do a better job of acting locally while thinking globally). … The reasons are complex, ranging from service culture to educational traditions, but it’s incontestable that the Navy long has produced our military’s best strategic thinkers—captains and admirals able to transcend parochial interests to see the global security environment as a whole.”—Ralph Peters, retired Army officer-columnist-author, on selection of Adm. William J. Fallon to head US Central Command, traditionally an assignment for an Army general, New York Post, Jan. 6.

Precision Airdrop

“At the moment, we’re seeing accuracy within 150 to 200 meters; in the end we’ll see less than a hundred meters. For an old guy who started out doing this over 30 years ago, that’s pretty remarkable.”—Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of US Transportation Command, on Joint Precision Airdrop System, which drops cargo bundles from altitudes up to 25,000 feet, Air Force Print News, Dec. 20.