Aug. 1, 2010

From Out of the Past

“What has happened, in fact, is not so much a revolution in warfare as a revolution in the US Air Force. Far from fulfilling the dream of wars waged far above the crude skirmish of terrestrial battle, the age of the drones has brought back the days when the chief mission of the Air Force was to support troops on the ground.”—Fred Kaplan, Slate, May 19.

Keep Them Covered

“We remain committed to the ability of the Air Force and our nation to hold virtually any target around the world at risk.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, Combat Air Forces Symposium, May 19.

About Military Pay Raises

“As a civilian in the business world who once had nearly 200,000 people reporting to me, I am unable to recall any job where one is on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; where one may be expected at any moment to move anywhere in the world and often to leave one’s family behind; where one’s children must change schools every two or three years; where one often must live in substandard housing; where one can’t simply quit and find another job; and where, during one’s career, there is almost a certainty that someone will try to kill you. Now, let’s see, what civilian job is the equivalent of that?”—Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin, May 12.

Too Dependent on Communications

“What are we creating today with our command and control systems? I don’t think we have turned off our radios in the last eight years. What kind of systems are we creating where we depend on this connection to headquarters? While we want the most robust communications, we also want to make sure we can operate with none of it. … Mission-type orders rather than bandwidth are the key to the future. We need officers who can operate off a commander’s intent, understand what the boss several levels above wants, and carry them out to suffocate the enemy’s hopes.”—Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of Joint Forces Command, Navy Times, May 13.

Out in Front

“You’re joining an Air Force well-heeled in combat, an Air Force that has literally been on the tip of the spear since the beginning of the Gulf War.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Academy commencement, May 26.

The Enemy

“Our enemy is not terrorism, because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror, because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists. … We are at war against al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates.”—John O. Brennan, White House counterterrorism advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 26.

Demographics and Cyberspace

“We must recognize that the long-term trend in human capital is against us. Over the next 20 years, there is little doubt that China or India will train more computer scientists than we will. … If our cyber advantage is predicated solely upon amassing trained cyber professionals, we will lose. So we need to confront cyber in the same way we confront other quantitatively dominant competitors. We do not always compete on numbers. We compete on technology and information dominance. The same will be true in cyber.”—Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, STRATCOM Cyber Symposium, May 26.

Powell on the Powell Doctrine

“It’s not in any military magazine or military field manual. But what it reflects is classical military thought. And what’s called the Powell Doctrine is essentially the principle of ‘objective and mass’—you decide what it is you’re trying to achieve and then you apply the mass needed to achieve that objective in a decisive way.”—Gen. Colin L. Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “This Week on ABC,” May 30.

We Americans

“The threat will not go away soon, but let’s be clear. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are small men on the wrong side of history. They lead no nation. They lead no religion. We need not give in to fear every time a terrorist tries to scare us. We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them. We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart. We are the United States of America.”—President Obama, West Point commencement, May 22.

NATO 2020

“From a security standpoint, the most salient aspect of our era is that events in one part of the world are far more likely than in the past to have repercussions elsewhere. Anarchy in one country can create an opportunity for terrorists to find a safe haven from which to operate across any border. A nation that evades global norms and gets away with it creates a precedent that others might follow. A cyber attack that leads to chaos in one city may inspire copycat criminals in another. Due to the reach of modern media, even terrorist groups and pirate bands now have public relations specialists.”—Analysis from “the Group of Experts” for new NATO strategic concept, May 17.

311 Nukes Plenty

“We have calculated that the country could address its conceivable national defense and military concerns with only 311 strategic nuclear weapons. (While we are civilian Air Force employees, we speak only for ourselves and not the Pentagon.) This may seem a trifling number compared with the arsenals built up in the Cold War, but 311 warheads would provide the equivalent of 1,900 megatons of explosive power, of nine-and-a-half times the amount that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara argued in 1965 could incapacitate the Soviet Union by destroying ‘one-quarter to one-third of its population and about two-thirds of its industrial capacity.’ “—Gary Schaub Jr., Air War College assistant professor, and James Forsyth Jr., School of Advanced Air and Space Studies professor, New York Times, May 24.

Osama Activity Report

“He has considerable iconic value. He doesn’t direct operations anymore, we don’t think. We’re not sure how much he even does, again, in terms of consultation on major decisions because he’s such a remote figure. … He doesn’t go anywhere, near anything, that could enable intelligence to find him.”—Gen. David H. Petraeus, then US CENTCOM commander, Chicago Tribune, May 20.