April 1, 2010

A Place for Compliance

“There are disciplines, like nuclear business, where there is only one way to do it, and it’s the Air Force way. That’s not to suggest we want to stifle imagination; far from it. But the reality is that in certain areas, like brain surgery, we want to make sure that it’s being done in the best possible way. If there’s a better way of doing it, that’s fine, but we will get that better way approved before we start to deviate from the Air Force way. The moral is there is a place for compliance in our Air Force.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, at Holloman AFB, N.M., Jan. 27.

Interservice Transfer

“General’s Opposition to Gay Policy Was Years in the Making.”—Referring to Michael G. Mullen (an admiral, actually, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), New York Times headline, Feb. 4.

Follow the Breadcrumbs

“Well, I mean, I think, you know, we’ve been leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, you know, over the past several years in terms of where the Secretary was heading in terms of reforming the defense budget.”—Pentagon press secretary Geoffrey S. Morrell in response to questions about big changes in the defense program, Jan. 27.

No Popular Wars

“One of the misconceptions around the world is that the American people love war. The truth is, we’ve never had a popular war. First few years of World War II were popular, but then people began to get impatient as the war dragged on. But there has never been a war that was really popular in America. I mean, just think back to Vietnam and Korea and so on. So, I think, given the challenges and the fact that we’ve been at war for eight years, the American people have been amazingly patient, amazingly supportive. And of course, the men and women in uniform are unbelievable.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Fox News “On the Record,” Feb. 8.

Not to Worry

“I just don’t quite understand why supplies of the S-300 system to Iran trouble you so much. This is purely a weapon of defense, not attack. This weapon cannot pose any threat to any neighbors, close or distant.”—Anatoly Isaikin, head of the Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport, on sale of the anti-aircraft missile, known in the West as the SA-20, to Iran, Reuters, Jan. 28.

Manned Spaceflight Masquerade

“The manned spaceflight program often masquerades as science, but it crowds out real NASA science, which is all done on unmanned missions. … The only technology for which the manned spaceflight program is well-suited is the technology of keeping people alive in space. And the only demand for that technology is in the manned spaceflight program itself.”—Steven Weinberg, noted physicist and Nobel laureate, University of Texas at Austin, Dallas Morning News, Feb. 5.

Top Job for Air Force

“Our most important air and space mission is supporting our troops and those of our allies on the front lines.”—Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, Jan. 21.

The Morphing of Industry

“The aerospace industry has morphed into the defense industry, which since the Cold War has gradually consolidated into a handful of look-alike conglomerates, each capable of making airplanes, ships, satellites, rockets, and missiles, and the electronics needed to operate them. The entrepreneurial engineers and flyboys of the early years, and the swashbuckling executives of the Cold War, have largely given way to button-down corporate managers.”—Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post business columnist, Jan. 8.

Predator in Haiti

“A person on the ground can open their laptop and watch the video in real time, talk to the pilot, and extend their vision beyond the horizon, over mountains, past roadblocks, and into the regions cut off from support. Our job is to get the RQ-1’s video camera where international aid workers cannot reach, to identify people and places most in need.”—Maj. Jeff Bright, commander of an Air Force detachment in Puerto Rico flying remotely piloted RQ-1 Predators over Haiti in support of earthquake relief, Air Force News Service, Jan. 27.

Ask Them

“Why aren’t you asking why the Japanese didn’t have better zoning laws? They built a school right under the runway. What were they thinking?”—Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, US Marine commander on Okinawa, on the problem of an elementary school next to the airfield, Washington Post, Jan. 24.

Hard Times for the Air Force

“The Air Force also is developing a split personality. It is coming to embrace its small-war role, particularly when it comes to unmanned systems like the Predator. But in almost every other respect, the service has fallen on hard times. The 1990s, the time of Operation Desert Storm and the Kosovo war, look in retrospect like the golden age of airpower. The future looks like a nightmare. The Obama Administration’s decision in last year’s budget to terminate the F-22 Raptor program, combined with technological and program-management problems with the F-35, raises previously unthinkable questions about the American ability to assert air superiority in a modern defense environment.”—Thomas Donnelly, The Weekly Standard, Feb. 15.

Short Cycled

“How … we build the next aircraft carrier or plane that is supposed to last 50 years in a world that turns on 18-month cycles is a huge challenge for the services.”—Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on keeping up with enemy tactics and technology,, Feb. 2.

Safer Without Saddam

“I think he was a monster. I believe he threatened not just the region, but the world. If I’m asked if I believe we are safer, more secure, that Iraq is better, that our own security is better with Saddam and his two sons out of power, … then I believe indeed we are.”—Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Washington Post, Jan. 30.