Oct. 1, 2012

Tell Bob Gates. Oh, You Did

“It’s a game changer. It does air superiority on steroids. It’s a strategic gem, a national treasure.”—Brig. Gen. Matthew H. Molloy, commander of USAF’s 18th Wing at Kadena AB, Japan, on the value of the recently arrived F-22 fighter, Associated Press, Aug. 30.

Wages of Sequestration I

“Every modernization program is affected in a major way, especially some of the key ones that we are going to rely so much on here over the next 10 to 20 years as we try and populate the force with new capability we need. And I think the trade space will become readiness and modernization. That’s horrible trade space to be operating.”—Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, commenting on looming sequestration cuts, quoted in Air Force Times, Sept. 10 issue.

Wages of Sequestration II

“You would not be buying F-35s. You’d be keeping F-16s and F-15s on line for years longer, and you’d have less of them. … The Russians and the Chinese are selling air defense capabilities to almost anybody who wants to buy them, including the North Koreans. So, if you’re a pilot flying an F-16 or an F-15 five or six years from now, the chances of you being at risk multiply greatly. That’s why the F-35s and F-22s are so important.”—Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on sequestration fallout, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Aug. 30.

See: Rhineland, 1936

“For all practical purposes, China has unilaterally decided to annex an area that extends eastward from the East Asian mainland as far as the Philippines and nearly as far south as the Strait of Malacca. China’s new ‘prefecture’ is nearly twice as large as the combined land masses of Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. … By taking no position, Washington has by default become an enabler of China’s ever more aggressive acts. The US, China, and all of East Asia have now reached an unavoidable moment of truth. Sovereignty disputes in which parties seek peaceful resolution are one thing; flagrant, belligerent acts are quite another. … History teaches us that, when unilateral acts of aggression go unanswered, the bad news never gets better with age.”—Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 20.

The Burden Is on Us

“The [attacks] required to hit underground enrichment facilities with a high level of damage, to carry out the scale of initial and follow-up attacks, and providing resources such as near-real-time intelligence required to detect and destroy other potentially lethal Iranian military weapons—for instance, ballistic missiles that could be used in a retaliation—can only be carried out by the United States. … The US would be the only country that has the airpower, support capability, and mix of sea-air forces in the Gulf to continue a sustained campaign over a period of time and restrike after an initial battle damage assessment [if] it is found that further strike sorties are required. … Israel does not have the capability to carry out preventive strikes that could do more than delay Iran’s efforts for a year or two.”—Anthony H. Cordesman, top defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, new report on possible military attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, Sept. 6.

Needed: A Red Line

“The international community is not setting Iran a clear red line, and Iran does not see international determination to stop its nuclear project. Until Iran sees a clear red line and such determination, it will not stop the progress of its nuclear project—and Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quoted in New York Times, Sept. 2.

Plausible Deniability

“I don’t know their plans. You know, we are a close ally, but we don’t share all of our planning for any particular contingency. So I don’t know their plan. Secondly, though I know generally their capability, I would never suggest that I know all of their capability. So when I’m asked, ‘Could they do it?’ I tend to look at it through the narrow lens of what I know. … They can clearly delay, but probably not destroy, Iran’s nuclear program. … Will I get warning? … I don’t know. I haven’t asked the question. … I don’t want to be accused of trying to influence, … nor do I want to be complicit, if they choose to do it. Really. So I haven’t asked the question.”—Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarks to reporters in London about a possible Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program, Aug. 30.

Stuck With Each Other

“They’re [China and India] like two porcupines. They want to be friends, but can only move a quill at a time.”—C. Uday Bhaskar, visiting fellow at India’s National Maritime Foundation, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 4.

Bonfire of the Inanities

“When you look at the thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of [acquisition] regulations that have crept in over the years, we say, ‘Start over.’ If it was me, I’d take ’em all and put a match to it. … They’ve totally choked industry out of the problem. [If] you see them in the hallway, you’d better run in the other direction, because some lawyer’s going to write you up. We talked to two four-star generals that wanted to have conversations with industry on the JLTV [the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle]. You’d have thought they were going to kill their grandmothers.”—Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro, chairman of the Defense Business Board, commenting on the problem of DOD acquisition, interview with AOL Defense, Aug. 30.

Making Stalin Look Good

“Deterring Iran is fundamentally different from deterring the Soviet Union. … It’s one thing to live in a state of mutual assured destruction with Stalin or Brezhnev, leaders of a philosophically materialist, historically grounded, deeply here-and-now regime. It’s quite another to be in a situation of mutual destruction with apocalyptic clerics who believe in the imminent advent of the Mahdi, the supremacy of the afterlife, and holy war as the ultimate avenue to achieving it. The classic formulation comes from Tehran’s fellow … jihadist al Qaeda: ‘You love life and we love death.’ Try deterring that.”—Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Aug. 30.