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Quantity, Not Quality Says Hoss; U.S. Must Rely On Allies

"You are not going to have 300 to 500 ships. You are not going to have thousands of fighters." At the same time, America must try and reverse its course of the last decade, which was bringing us to the point where we would have one ship on each coast and one plane on each coast, and focus on quantity to help reverse that stark reality: "We need quantity more than we need that exquisiite capability."

There you have it straight from the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Hoss Cartwright, who pulled the curtain back a bit on what he and his boss have been ruminating about for most of May. The Pentagon must heed the nation's fiscal peril because, as Cartwright put it, 'you cannot build strategy in the absence of resources."

He and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have spent much of the last two weeks grappling with these fiscal realities, Cartwright said during an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And those fiscal realities mean America must take our friends and allies into account as we decide what weapons to buy. "The reality is, we don't fight alone. We don't deter alone," Cartwright said. The U.S. "cannot afford to do everything ourselves. We are not an island." And that means the Pentagon must "include the capabilities of those we will be partnered with" as it builds requirements. The services first instinct -- the country's first instinct -- is to say, "We have to have the only capability. We have to fill every wrung on the ladder with the best capability in the world." He paused, briefly: "We cannot do it."

As a strategist, Cartwright is always looking ahead and keeping his eye on the center of power -- politics -- so he knows that "people will immediately say, we can't rely on" allies in a fight." But the truth is that America has not and will not fight alone, and in the face of fiscal constraints our strategy must fit those resources we do have, he said.

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