Ares is pleased to announce the inaugural Puff award - named after both hype and imaginary dragons - for outstandingly creative invocation of the China threat to justify expensive weapons, particularly those that are over-budget and behind schedule.
The prize goes to Marine Commandant James Conway, who defended the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program at a press conference yesterday, adding: "And, by the way, China has already fielded a similar vehicle and is building more."
That is true. China has developed a high-speed amphibious vehicle, the ZBD2000:
However, the logic breaks down when you ask the simple question: Do we need one just because the Chinese have one? It might possibly occur to you at that point that China has a unique strategic scenario that might call for an amphibious operation.
At the same time, Conway also said that the V-22 is set for sea trials with a Marine Expeditionary Unit: "We've got to answer questions about seaworthiness, the effects of sea air and conditions on-board ship."
Aside from the fact that this important step is running late (a year ago, the Marines said that the first operational unit, then on the way back from Iraq, would turn round in five months and deploy at sea), one might ask (striving to stay calm in the process) what the program's been doing for the last 25 years if we're still wondering what happens when the V-22 gets wet.
But in any event - a well deserved Puff to the General, and surely the first of many.