By lex, on September 18th, 2011
In the late 80s, when I was a fleet lieutenant with one deployment behind me, we were invited to a presentation by Alexander Zuyev, a Soviet era MiG-29 pilot who defected with his airplane to Trabzon, Turkey. The aircraft was re-patriated, but Zuyev was allowed asylum in the US. He gave a pretty good pitch about the differing mindsets between the air forces of the Cold War adversaries. Centralized control we knew about, but they counted sorties rather than flight hours since – as Alex phrased it – fighter combat was more like a boxing match than an endurance contest. He also offered us two of his regiment’s rules of engagement: They would never fire on a man in a parachute, which was we all agreed was gratifyingly humane, but neither would they fire on an aircraft with its landing gear down. A couple of those in my cohort exchanged meaningful glances, acutely aware that insofar as his second rule went, his regiment would not have received the same consideration from us.
By lex, on August 6th, 2011
I don’t believe I ever met any of the fallen heroes from DevGru. I don’t know their names, have not seen their faces. They shun recognition from anyone not of their tribe, knowing that no one not of them can appreciate what they have gone through, what they have accomplished, what they have been forced to do. But I have met them, or men like them.
By lex, on August 2nd, 2011
Well, today I told my supervisor that I was hanging it up. He was surprised I think, but took it decently. It’ll be a bit of a scramble setting things in order, getting the right pieces in place. Ensuring a smooth transition.
The company has been good to me, and I gave it my best shot. But doing what I was doing is not who I am, and I simply couldn’t see doing it for the next 15-17 years. And try as I might, I couldn’t explain to the Kat what it was I did, though she’s a smart cookie. That and I’ve got enough pain in my life to not want to spend my working hours augmenting it.
By lex, on June 25th, 2011
While back east last weekend, your host had the opportunity to chat with an occasional reader about a number of things, among which was my transition to general aviation after two decades and change of pushing fast metal around at taxpayer expense. My interlocutor was a general aviation enthusiast himself, and operated chiefly in the Midwest I gather, a region where weather effects comprise a similar, if seasonal, risk to flying that terrain does here on the west coast.
By lex, on June 4th, 2011
I can’t remember if I’ve told this tale before, which means you probably don’t either. But in any case it came to pass one warm summer day in the San Joaquin Valley that an FA-18 squadron commanding officer of my casual acquaintance stood at the podium in his dress whites, sword at his side, opening the event book for to begin his change of command speech, the assembled sailors roasting at parade rest in their own whites, the guests fanning themselves with their programs, for if you’ve never been at a midday speech in Lemoore, California in the summertime, then you’ve never been truly hot, maybe.
By lex, on May 15th, 2011
Apart from being the principle breadwinner at Chez Lex, among my household chores includes picking up the mail from a drop box up the street. In this duty I am inevitably assisted, accompanied and abetted by Gus, the dachshund.
By lex, on April 20th, 2011
There have been a lot of bad GWOT movies. A lot of Hollywood executives greenlighting frank and open anti-Americanism and enthusiastically endorsing hostility to the military forces whose mission includes protecting their own right to hold fashionable opinions that condescend to middle America and its bourgeois values, even as they profit lavishly from their exploitation. Values like honor, patriotism and valor.
Old fashioned stuff.
Nearly all of these directors, producers and screenwriters have done so from the safe distance of coastal California, content to place equally vapid marquis faces above their tired tropes and timeworn prejudices.
By lex, on February 19th, 2011
Marine Corps General James Mattis is no one’s idea of a soft touch. Just reflect on his speech to the tribal leaders of Fallujah. But it turns out that the warrior monk had a soft spot in his heart on Christmas Day:
Back in 1998, (USMC Commandant General Charles Krulak) was making his final delivery (of holiday cookies) to Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico when he asked the Marine on duty who the officer of the day was.
By lex, on January 27th, 2011
There are many petty irritations in the service that we are taught to disregard. “You can die on that hill if you want to,” a senior mentor might advise. “Or you can save your ammunition for when you’re in a powerful enough seat to make meaningful changes.” As a flag officer, maybe. Maybe even a senior one. Keep your head down, your shoulders in the traces and pull your load with a smile on your sweating face, and when the time comes, you can really make a difference.
I just finished a book that was a New York Times best seller almost 20 years ago, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea.
In 1857, the steamship SS Central America in a hurricane sank in 7,200 feet of water 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina. Before the Panama Canal, travelers from California bound for the east coast would take a ship to Panama, cross the isthmus and board another ship at Colón on the Caribbean side for the trip up to the east coast. In addition to the passengers carrying a small fortune in gold from their times in the California gold fields, the ship was carrying tons of gold coins minted in San Francisco and gold ingots to the east coast banks.