Oct. 1, 2008

Creeping Militarization

“In the campaign against terrorist networks and other extremists, we know that direct military force will continue to have a role. But over the long term, we cannot kill or capture our way to victory. What the Pentagon calls ‘kinetic’ operations should be subordinate to measures to promote participation in government, economic programs to spur development, and efforts to address the grievances that often lie at the heart of insurgencies and among the discontented from which the terrorists recruit.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, warning of “creeping militarization” in US foreign policy, speech to US Global Leadership Campaign, July 15.

Their Own Air Force

“I don’t see any reduction in the need for combat aviation; in fact, it’s increasing. … Commanders and soldiers want Army aviation—it’s such a combat multiplier, … [and they’re] asking for more right now.”—Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody, Defense Daily, Aug. 1.

Nonaligned, It Says Here

“The big powers are going down. They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in keynote speech to 120-nation Nonaligned Movement conference, which endorsed Iran’s nuclear program, Associated Press, July 29.

The Pentagon’s Assumption

“Today, the Pentagon doesn’t have a coherent plan for how it will sustain global air dominance over the next 30 years without a sufficient number of F-22s because it has convinced itself that unconventional warfare is the wave of the future. In other words, it doesn’t think US air dominance will be challenged. Not surprisingly, some potential adversaries like Russia see this as an invitation to begin competing again for command of the skies.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, July 16.

Job Advantage

“I’ve hired a lot of people, and typically the military guys are better educated. You have [retired] lieutenant colonels who have Ph.D.s, and have spent 20 years in the military doing their jobs. Then you have a GS-15 with a master’s degree and who doesn’t have as much experience. Who do you pick?”—Unidentified Defense Department “senior executive” on why retired military officers often beat out career civil servants for defense top jobs, Federal Times, July 28.

Deadly Stare

“Today we are in an environment where we may not need the large number or persistence of manned aircraft. We can put unmanned aircraft—Predator, Reaper, and other assets—overhead for long endurance periods. We call that persistent stare. And with the Reaper, armed with Hellfire and 500-pound precision weapons, we’ll be able to have a deadly stare if needed.”—Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, commander of US air forces in Southwest Asia, Agence France-Presse, Aug. 4.

Two Is Enough

“Right now I’m fighting two wars and I don’t need a third one.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on consequences of potential conflict with Iran, “Fox News Sunday,” July 20.

TSA and the Troops

“Law enforcement officers can go through with just a note from the sheriff, and here we have military guys who just got back from serving their country in Iraq. It stunned me [that] they are having to take off their lace-up boots. It’s ludicrous.”—Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), leading a push to change Transportation Security Administration treatment of military personnel returning home from war zones, Washington Times, July 24.

Roots of an Attitude

“Anti-American feeling was entrenched before Iraq. Even in Britain, where there is a deep and pervasive affection for the US (and far more anxious talk about the fraying of the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries than you ever hear in the US), the grumbling undercurrents were getting louder through the 1990s. That mood—far stronger in continental Europe—drew new energy from the fall of the Soviet Union, which left the US as the sole superpower, and freed Europe from its dependence on American protection against the threat to the east.”—Bronwen Maddox, Times of London chief foreign commentator, Wall Street Journal, July 21.

Tell It Now

“Getting these oral histories now is important, because once [the veterans] are gone, their stories are gone forever.”—Steve Hollingshead, Department of Veterans Affairs, calling on veterans to participate in VA’s Veterans History Project, Air Force Print News, Aug. 1.

Doesn’t Work

“Military might against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups isn’t working—and no wonder. After studying the record of 648 terrorist groups between 1968 and 2006, we’ve found that military force has rarely been effective in defeating this enemy. Indeed, the US reliance on military force—especially conventional military forces—has often been counterproductive.”—Seth G. Jones and Martin C. Libicki, RAND, “Stop the ‘War’ on Terror,” Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 6.

Top Objective of Strategy

“For the foreseeable future, winning the Long War against violent extremist movements will be the central objective of the US.”—New National Defense Strategy, released to the public by the Department of Defense, July 31.

Five Percent

“We need to reach a consensus between the President, the Congress, and the American taxpayer over what adequate force levels cost, over spending plans that offer at least five years of continuity for core programs, and over the strategy and force posture we will actually fund. … The end result may cost closer to five percent of our GDP than the four percent or less we have paid in recent years and now plan to pay in the future.”—Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington Times, Aug. 10.