March 1, 2008

Technology Is So Yesterday

“The US has no conventional military enemies now. Neither Russia nor China nor anyone else is building vast arsenals of advanced weaponry. The enemies the US actually fights are guerillas and insurgents. So why spend huge sums on high-tech arms?”—Columnist Fred Reed, Washington Times, Dec. 15.

What Tomorrow May Bring

“The issue, then, is whether the US needs the best plane in the sky. For all the talk of the F-22 being a legacy of the Cold War, we are far from convinced that the US will forevermore be faced with only Taliban-like adversaries incapable of fielding air forces of their own, or that the era of great power military rivalries is over. Judging by the expensive weapons systems currently being developed in China and Russia (which on Tuesday successfully tested a new ICBM, apparently Vladimir Putin’s idea of the Christmas spirit), it seems that neither country has reached that conclusion either.”—Wall Street Journal editorial, Dec. 27.

Flying Officer Wales

“During his time with us, Flying Officer Wales will be realizing a personal ambition to learn how to fly, and this will be the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the Royal Air Force.”—Central Flying School chief Nick Seward on entry of Flying Officer William Wales (Prince William) into pilot training at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, Press Association dispatch, Jan. 4.

All in the Squadron

“To prepare for combat, we train like we fight, so it only makes sense that we should also organize the way we fight. Aircraft maintenance is a vital element of a flying squadron’s mission at home or deployed, and the maintainers that generate sorties belong in that chain of command.”—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, CSAF’s Scope, Dec. 13.

Look to the Skies

“The war in Afghanistan has largely returned to its 2001 origins, when a combination of special operations forces on the ground calling in airpower quickly defeated the Taliban armies. This doesn’t mean ground forces are less important; the most effective combination is to have ‘eyes on the ground’ making US airpower more effective. Yet despite the strategic review and the call for more troops, nothing dramatic is likely to happen ‘on the ground’ in Afghanistan before the Bush Administration leaves office. That is because the drama is not on the ground. To understand the war in Afghanistan, look up in skies.”—William M. Arkin, Washington Post blog, Dec. 17.

No One Complained

“Again this year, the national cemetery system of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has received the highest rating in customer satisfaction for any federal agency or private corporation surveyed, according to a prestigious, independent survey of customer satisfaction.”—VA news release, Dec. 18.

The Nonbelievers

“If you tell 100 million people to go east, 25 million will go west because they don’t trust the government.”—Jay C. Davis, participant in a federal study of the problems of response and coordination in the event of a nuclear attack, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 6.

We’re Losing

“The American people have become very frustrated with the course of this war. They should be frustrated. We’re losing.”—Frederick W. Kagan, neoconservative scholar and author and former professor of military history at West Point, NPR “Morning Edition,” Jan. 8.

We’re Winning

“After years of mismanagement of the war, many people had grave doubts about whether success in Iraq was possible. In Congress, opposition to the surge from anti-war members was swift and severe. They insisted that Iraq was already ‘lost,’ and that there was nothing left to do but accept our defeat and retreat. In fact, they could not have been more wrong. And had we heeded their calls for retreat, Iraq today would be a country in chaos: a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, overrun by al Qaeda and Iran. Instead, conditions in that country have been utterly transformed from those of a year ago, as a consequence of the surge.”—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Wall Street Journal op-ed, Jan. 10.

Need to Know

“The computer’s user managed the database on behalf of the band for the purposes of unit history and alumni contact. It is not yet known why PII [personal identification information] was included in the database.”—Bolling AFB, D.C., announcement, Jan. 4, on theft from a member of the Air Force Band of a laptop computer containing Social Security numbers and other personal information on 10,000 retirees and 500 active duty members.

Better Way to Go

“As we set the stage for the future, we will also break new ground by applying innovative technologies in areas such as alternative energy and cyberspace. Building on last year’s certification of the B-52 to fly on synthetic fuel and the first-ever transcontinental flight on ‘synfuel’ by a C-17, we are taking aggressive steps to certify the entire fleet to reduce dependence on foreign oil.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, Letter to Airmen, Jan. 7.

Acquisition Logic

“I need competition. If the C-5 [re-engining upgrade] is canceled, there’s a possibility that the C-17 price will go up.”—Air Force acquisition executive Sue C. Payton on why USAF may pursue the C-5 re-engining upgrade, even though its estimated cost has risen by 54 percent despite competitive pressure from the C-17, the price of which has steadily declined, National Defense, January.