Jan. 1, 2010

Leakers Beware

“I have been appalled by the amount of leaking that has been going on in this process. … And frankly, if I found out with high confidence anybody who was leaking in the Department of Defense, who that was, that would probably be a career ender. … Everybody ought to just shut up.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates on leaks to news media about the Ft. Hood, Tex., investigation and the additional troops to Afghanistan, New York Times, Nov. 13.

Where Is the Luftwaffe

“If you can see silver aircraft, they are American. If you can see khaki planes, they are British, and if you can’t see any planes, then they’re German.”—Attributed to German ground troops in Europe in 1944, Anthony Beevor, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, Viking, released in October.

All in Fun, Sort Of

“I was joking, … but I do think that the Air Force is the most corporate of our armed forces and the least military in its feel. I think this is because it doesn’t fight on the ground, and also because its enlisted don’t control firepower. (But both those are true of the Navy, the most traditional of the services.) I also think that the Air Force may be, in cultural terms, the most ‘American’ of the services, reflecting our culture more than do the Army, Navy, and Marines.”—Thomas E. Ricks, author and journalist, explaining his earlier reference to “the military services, as well as the Air Force,” Foreign Policy magazine, Nov. 9.

Poles Want Protection

“We would like to see US troops stationed in Poland to serve as a shield against Russian aggression.”—Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, London Daily Telegraph, Nov. 7.


“Reputations are hard to earn and easy to lose. So, every day, we, individually and collectively, must strive to sustain that reputation, which is that we are a trustworthy and reliable partner on the battlefield, that we will do what is needed.”—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Airlift Tanker Association conference, Nov. 7.

Big Space Shrinks

“The big space theory, like the big sky theory, kind of came to a close when that happened—the thought that we wouldn’t have to pay attention to the movement of every satellite up there because there’s so much space up there and such a low probability that they’ll run into each other.”—Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of US Strategic Command, recalling a collision in 2009 of US and Russian satellites, speech at Offutt AFB, Neb., Nov. 4.

Dying for a Fad

“Our soldiers are dying for a fad, not for a strategy. Our vaunted counterinsurgency doctrine is the military equivalent of hula hoops, pet rocks, and Beanie Babies. … Our counterinsurgency (COIN) theory—hatched by military pseudo-intellectuals and opportunists—has no serious historical basis. It ignores the uncomfortable lessons of 3,000 years of fighting insurgencies and terrorists. Its authors claim Vietnam and Algeria as success stories.”—Ralph Peters, former Army officer, author, syndicated columnist, and outspoken advocate of ground combat power, New York Post, Oct. 28.

Missing Concept

“In Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) documents, … there has been no mention of forcible entry since the 2001 QDR. The 2002 edition of the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) was the last mention of forcible entry as a required capability. There is no joint integrating concept on the subject. Thus, we now find a divergence of approaches being taken unilaterally to what are probably the most complex and complicated joint operations, and no comprehensive statement of the requirement in Department of Defense documents.”—Retired Army Gen. Carl W. Stiner and retired Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Schroeder, Army Magazine (Association of the US Army), November.

Fat of the Land

“We have an obesity crisis in the country. … Kids are just not able to do push-ups. And they can’t do pull-ups. And they can’t run.”—Curt L. Gilroy, Pentagon director of accessions, on physical unfitness for military service of 35 percent of American young people, Army Times, Nov. 3.

Gravest Problem

“I worry most about proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in such a way that they could be acquired by nongovernmental organizations, like terrorist groups, especially the radical groups that we know are trying to get these weapons. We’re convinced that if they were to get them, they would use them.”—US National Security Advisor James L. Jones, asked by Spiegel (Germany) about the gravest threat to the American homeland, Nov. 7.

Limitations of Unmanned Combat

“It is one thing to receive coordinates, target a sensor, and shoot weapons at a given point in support. Predator unmanned aircraft do that now. Artillery can do that. It’s not special. But it is an entirely different endeavor to locate a smart, moving enemy hiding among rocks or in an urban setting, while coordinating [with] other aircraft on multiple frequencies and recommending friendly ground movements, all the while optimizing orbit shape and climbing or descending in altitude as weather and terrain change over time to find and root out evil.”—Col. James Jinnette, former F-15E squadron commander who has completed three close air support deployments, Armed Forces Journal, November.

An Excess of Outsourcing

“As we debate how many more troops to dispatch to Afghanistan, it might be a good time to also debate just how far we’ve already gone in hiring private contractors to do jobs that the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA once did on their own. … We’ve fallen into a pattern of outsourcing some of the very core tasks of government—interrogation, security, democracy promotion. As more and more of this government work gets contracted and then subcontracted, … the public interest can get lost and abuse and corruption get invited in.”— Thomas L. Friedman, noted author (The World Is Flat) and columnist, New York Times, Nov. 4.