Thursday, May 26, 2011

Uh, sir, could you maybe think about using a different word?

My favorite unreadable anti-journalist and China hawk has an item today about this week's SASC Airland subommittee hearing on tactical aircraft. Unsurprisingly, his account focuses exclusively on a China angle.
Asked during the hearing what "keeps you up at night," Rear Adm. David L. Philman, Navy director of warfare integration, said: "Well, the China scenario is first and foremost, I believe, because they seem to be more advanced and they have the capability out there right now, and their ships at sea and their other anti-access capabilities."
The Pentagon refers to China's advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles that hit ships at sea, new submarines, anti-satellite weapons and cyberwarfare capabilities, as "anti-access and area denial" arms.
Adm. Philman said the J-20 rollout is a concern, but with 1,000 test hours on the F-35, the jet is a "far leap ahead from the Chinese fighter that's flown three times."
"But they will catch up. They understand. They're a smart and learning enemy, and if we don't keep our edge, then we will be behind, or at least lose our advantage," Adm. Philman said. [emphasis mine]
So, um, RADM Philman: any chance you could avoid describing the world's most populous country as an ENEMY? Considering the way that, you know, we're not actually at war with them or anything like that, and how in fact we actually have a gradually growing mil-to-mil relationship with them? I know it's just fighter-pilot lingo, and I know you're talking about the PLA more specifically, not the entire country, and I know we're talking about hypothetical future threats to U.S. air dominance and that in that context, it's reasonable to talk about us and "the enemy," even if only as a matter of the way forces are arrayed (as in friendly aircraft vs. enemy aircraft, etc.). But dude, come on.

Can we just go with something like "adaptive adversary"? It's less aggressively inflammatory, it connotes potential rather than actual threat, and it has the added benefit of being consistent with doctrine!


  1. An enemy..hmmm. I would wager some cash he has items in his house hold that were made by that "Enemy." This is like a repeat of the 1980's Japan bashing only with cold war paranoia.

  2. The good news is that the good O-7/8 is probably much more well versed in how to speak eloquently about things like DADT, people getting their IA training done, and the persistent safety mantra we're all so concerned with. Once you have all that stuff done, worrying about how to deal with the world's most quickly rising military is a distant afterthought that you think about at night, which is why it keeps him up and also why he hasn't thought through why calling them an enemy may not be prudent. Reading through this again, I may have given our senior leadership short shrift. They're certainly consumed with much more existential threats, too, like Somali pirates and the half-a#$ed Taliban that certainly will rule the world if we leave Afghanistan.

  3. Enemy might be a good term to use behind closed doors, but perhaps the word competitor might be a more politically savvy term than either enemy or adversary.


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