Nov. 1, 2011

Listen to the Guard

“This force wants to be used. It does not want to be marginalized. … I believe we’ve earned the right … to have a voice and a role. We’re approaching 700 killed in action over these last 10 years. We’ve fought and died alongside the Army and Air Force and therefore we should be able to put our value proposition on the table and be heard.”—Gen. Craig R. McKinley, National Guard chief, National Defense Magazine, October issue.

Zero Tolerance, by Panetta

“If the Congress is irresponsible enough to suddenly turn on this sequester idea because they failed to meet their responsibility, that would clearly damage our national defense. [Cutting] in some kind of blind fashion that basically hits everything … is going to result in hollowing out the force. We cannot tolerate that. We still risk too many threats out there to weaken our defense.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, referring to steps contemplated by Congress’ “supercommittee” on debt reduction, “CNN OutFront” broadcast, Oct. 3.

Qom and Doom

“We believe if Iran broke out now they could have a bomb in six months. They’ve done this right in front of our faces.”—David Albright, head of Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, Sunday Times of London, Sept. 25.

If al Qaeda Thinks You’re Crazy …

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its President Ahmadinejad that it does not believe al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather the US government. So we may ask the question: Why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”—”Abu Suhail,” pseudonymous author writing in al Qaeda’s English-language magazine, Inspire, New York Times, Sept. 2.

The Wet Blanket Cometh

“The department simply can’t afford to dominate or prop up every important domestic industry on which we rely. … It’s simply not going to get better. There will be less money than we anticipate in the future, not more.”—Brett B. Lambert, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial policy, in remarks to Comdef 2011 conference in Washington, Sept. 7.

Ignorance Is Bliss

“Every defense company is constantly under [foreign cyber] attack. If anybody tells you they’re not, it just means they don’t know. It is a threat that is broad-based. It’s not just from one source … and it’s just unceasing.”—Northrop Grumman’s chief executive, Wesley G. Bush, Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7.

The Romney Doctrine

“America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.”—Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential candidate, speech at The Citadel, Oct. 7.

Our Decline Calls for Spine

“Some here and in the region see China’s growth as a threat, entertaining visions of a Cold War-style rivalry or great-power confrontation. Some Chinese worry that our aim in the Asia-Pacific is to contain China’s rise. I reject these views.”—Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., op-ed titled, “China’s Rise Isn’t Our Demise,” New York Times, Sept. 8.

Ash Carter Gets Aboard

“The department’s support for the F-35 program is strong. We are committed to ensuring that decisions concerning the F-35 are made for the correct reasons and with a commitment toward overall F-35 program success.”—Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter in letter to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), The Cable, Sept. 14.

Buck, Meet Thomas Hobson

“If it came that I had only two choices—one was a tax increase and one was a cut in defense over and above where we already are—I would go to strengthen defense.”—Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of House Armed Services Committee, Newsweek, Sept. 26.

Of UAVs and Common Sense

“Autonomy is really the Achilles’ heel of robotics. … All robots in the military are remote controlled. How does that sit with the fact that autonomy has been worked on at universities and companies for well over 20 years? … The foremost of all skills is common sense. Robots don’t have common sense and won’t have common sense in the next 50 years, or however long one might want to guess.”—Johann Borenstein, head of University of Michigan’s Mobile Robotics Lab, Washington Post, Sept. 20.

It’s Done. Move On.

“Today, with implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant joint force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values. … It’s the right thing to do. It’s done. We need to move on.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, then-JCS Chairman, referring to repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military, Pentagon news conference, Sept. 20.

Our Increasingly Peaceful Orb

“Believe it or not, the world of the past was much worse. Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species. … The rate of documented direct deaths from political violence (war, terrorism, genocide, and warlord militias) in the past decade is an unprecedented few hundredths of a percentage point. Even if we multiplied that rate to account for unrecorded deaths and the victims of war-caused disease and famine, it would not exceed one percent.”—Steven Pinker, Harvard professor of psychology, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 24.

War, Then and Now

“We ignored our whole tradition and history and instead drafted the Guard and Reserve and sent them to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. In Vietnam, everybody went for one year. Now, people are going back three and four times. I never thought I would live to see a day in which we actually had more casualties from suicides than from the Taliban.”—Col. Ken Allard, US Army (Ret.), military affairs analyst, Washington Times, Sept. 8.