March 1, 2010

There, Not Here

“We must continue to push our best talent forward and into the fight. I will take gaps in manning the Joint Staff in order to support the war. I expect combatant commanders and services outside of CENTCOM to consistently make choices, however painful, that fully support the fight.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Guidance for 2009-2010, Dec. 21.

The Soviet Mistake

“I’m the first to tell people that tactically, militarily, [the Soviets] did a lot of things well. But they killed more than a million Afghans in the process, and they created an environment in which the antibodies of the society literally surged against them.”—Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Mideast Stars and Stripes, Jan. 2.

The Air Force in 2025

“I see an Air Force that will continue. There is a transition under way where certain things have become more prevalent. Certainly that is true about remotely piloted aircraft. The need for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance certainly has ascended. But there are certain enduring qualities that will be true in 2025. What the joint team expects of us is to provide domain control of air and space on behalf of the joint team, [and] that will remain a prime imperative for the Air Force. I think, likewise, placing distant targets at risk wherever they may be on the planet will remain a driving imperative.”—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Times, Dec. 22.

The Airpower Mystique

“Airpower is not very well understood; however, it is often favored by politicians because it seems, on the face of it, one way to deal with a problem. It is seemingly cheap, although it really isn’t. Also, it seems to give a sense of instant gratification.”—Angus Ross, Naval War College professor, Westport (Conn.) News, Jan. 1.

The Decision on Iraq

“I was surprised initially with the speed at which we were going into Iraq, and I never understood it. … Never to my knowledge, and I’m pretty sure I’m right on this, did the President [George W. Bush] ever sit around with his advisors and say, ‘Should we do this or not?’ He never did it.”—Richard L. Armitage, deputy secretary of state, 2001-05, Prism (new National Defense University magazine), December.

Cyberwar 90 Percent Defensive

“If we led with attack, people would say, ‘That’s just nuts. That’s completely irrational.’ You’ve got to be about the defense.”—National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis, contending that 90 percent of US Cyber Command’s focus will be on defensive measures, Washington Post, Jan. 3.

Look, Up in the Sky

“It used to be that when three drones were in the sky over North Waziristan, it used to signify that an attack was forthcoming, and people would be scared of being hit. Now there are four or five drones in the sky all the time, and sometimes as many as six.”—Haji Pazir Gul, journalist in Miranshah, Afghanistan, The National newspaper (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), Dec. 27.

Upsetting the Balance

“If we don’t develop a missile defense system, a danger arises for us that with an umbrella protecting our partners from offensive weapons, they will feel completely safe. The balance will be disrupted, and then they will do whatever they want, and aggressiveness will immediately arise both in real politics and economics.”—Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, New York Times, Dec. 30.

It All Depends

“If you just want to go from point A to point B in uncontested airspace and gather targeting data, an unmanned system can do the job.”—Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, USAF deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, Defense Daily, Dec. 15.

Only Plausible Option

“Negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. But in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse, and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”—Alan J. Kuperman, director of the University of Texas at Austin Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program, New York Times, Dec. 24.

Where Does It End

“To sustain public support, a protracted war needs a persuasive narrative. Americans after Dec. 7, 1941 didn’t know when their war would end. But they took comfort in knowing where and how it was going to end: with enemy armies destroyed and enemy capitals occupied. Americans today haven’t a clue when, where, or how their war will end. The Long War, as the Pentagon aptly calls it, has no coherent narrative. When it comes to defining victory, US political and military leaders are flying blind.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, Boston University professor, New York Daily News, Dec. 23.

35—Plus More

“We definitely operate the aircraft at a higher rate here than we do back home. These are 35-plus-year-old aircraft, and they do take more of a beating here, but thanks to the great relationship we have between maintenance and operations, these planes keep on truckin’ every day and should continue to do so for another 35-plus years.”—SSgt. Nick Kenneally, C-130H flight engineer deployed to Southwest Asia, Air Force Print News, Dec. 30.

Deadly History of IEDs

“In Afghanistan, we are up against a determined and clever foe who mastered the use of this deadly technology long before our forces set foot in the mountains of the Hindu Kush. Recent translations of Soviet general staff studies reveal that the Soviets lost nearly 2,000 soldiers and 1,200 vehicles to IEDs [improvised explosive devices] during their nine-year Soviet-Afghan war. That IEDs have defeated another technologically advanced military, in the very same place we fight now, only adds to the urgency of our mission.”—Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, Dec. 30.