Monthly Archives: September 2017

Happy Fourth!

By lex, on July 4th, 2011

My father was born in 1916, and grew up in Glen Allen, Virginia, just north of Richmond. Glen Allen has become a suburb of Richmond these days, but back then it defined rural. Dad’s father worked the railroads. Mom was born in 1920 and grew up in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. Her old man had gone from coal miner to soldier in the Great War before coming back home again to serve as a paymaster for the company. He died in the aftermath of a train robbery that left the family destitute, and what with the Great Depression going on in their childhoods, those were hard times all around. She always kept the larder full, and my old man ate heartily. They remembered times when hunger wasn’t something that came up just prior to lunchtime, but rather something you lived with.

Right here in America.

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Somalia, Now

By lex, on July 2nd, 2011

The US is now plinking Shabab militia leaders with al Qaeda links, according to the Gray Lady, in a headline entitled, “U.S. Expands Its Drone War into Somalia”:

The clandestine American military campaign to combat Al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen is expanding to fight the Islamist militancy in Somalia, as new evidence indicates that insurgents in the two countries are forging closer ties and possibly plotting attacks against the United States, American officials say.

An American military drone aircraft attacked several Somalis in the militant group the Shabab late last month, the officials said, killing at least one of its midlevel operatives and wounding others.

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Fair and Balanced

By lex, on June 22nd, 2011

Last week we learned that our Pakistani allies were rounding up some of the usual suspects on suspicion of having provided the US with information on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts.

This week we learn that the army’s internal security division has detained a Pakistani brigadier on suspicion of collaborating with the Hizb-ut-Tahrir militant group:

The detention of the officer, Brig. Ali Khan, raises serious concerns about the infiltration of elements sympathetic to Islamic extremists in the higher ranks of the army. While the lower ranks of the army, air force and navy have long been known to have elements sympathetic to the Taliban and extremist organizations, the arrest of Brigadier Khan is the first known arrest of an army official.

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The Glory Hole

By lex, on June 10th, 2011

Between July and November 1916, Commonwealth and French troops engaged the Kaiser’s forces in the disastrously bloody Battle of the Somme, a campaign that cost the British army 420,000 men killed for the temporary gain of two miles territory – a cost of two men per centimeter. The British suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day alone.

The little French town of La Boisselle sat directly athwart the main line of advance. Over the years of static warfare leading up to the battle, mines and counter-mines were tunneled by the opposing forces in an attempt to breach the trenches that characterized the war on the Western Front. One collapsed in November 1915, having run into a German mine that touched off a huge store of explosives. Twenty-eight British colliers died there and have been entombed ever since, the site remained in private hands and untouched.

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A Reminder That I Am Getting Older

Although I was not sent to Vietnam, a lot from that era is still raw with me. Doesn’t take much to bring it back up.

Some months ago, PBS I believe, ran a program on the life of Janis Joplin. A friend of mine of many years says that I tend to be obsessive. I never considered myself as such, but with a bit of reflection, I tend to agree. I will dig and dig learning about things that interest me.

Anyway subsequent to the program I come to learn that someone from her old band – Big Brother & The Holding Company – was having a talk about Janis in Vallejo and I am all ready to get a ticket and attend.

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Navy Cross

By lex, on June 10th, 2011

Two Marines will receive the nation’s second highest award for valor for their conduct during a bloody ambush  * in eastern Afghanistan in 2009:

Fabayo, then a first lieutenant, is credited with pushing into a kill zone on foot and engaging enemy at close range with his M4 carbine. He braved heavy enemy fire to carry wounded Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook several hundred meters, treated wounded Afghan forces that his unit was training and took the gunner’s position in a gun truck with three other service members as they drove into the kill zone to recover the bodies of three Marines and a corpsman killed in the battle.

Rodriguez-Chavez was assigned to the unit’s security element during the ambush. Under heavy fire, he drove a gun truck into the kill zone three times to cover the withdrawal of the training team and partnered Afghan forces. He then made a fourth trip into the deepest part of the kill zone in another truck to recover the bodies of the fallen Marines and corpsman, positioning his vehicle to shield fellow service members from the intense fire as they left the vehicle to retrieve the bodies.

In October, the Marine Corps recommended that the gunner with Rodriguez-Chavez, former Cpl. Dakota Meyer, receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, sources with knowledge of the award process told Marine Corps Times. He is credited with charging into the kill zone repeatedly on foot to find the missing Marines, who had been shot to death and stripped of their weapons. No decision on his award has been announced.

Three Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed during the ambush, and a US Army officer later died of wounds. Eight Afghan soldiers and an interpreter were also killed.

The story is sadly not exclusively one  * of courage and intrepidity under fire:

The training team, out of Okinawa, Japan, was pinned down without artillery and air support for hours by well entrenched insurgents armed with assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades and machine guns, prompting a joint Army-Marine military investigation.

Conducted by Army Col. Richard Hooker and Marine Col. James Werth, it determined that “negligent” leadership by three officers at nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce contributed “directly to the loss of life which ensued.” They refused direct calls for help from U.S. forces on the ground and failed to notify higher commands that they had troops in contact with enemy, the investigation found.

Two of the three negligent officers apparently received “career killing” letters of reprimand.

The Marines and soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan know they face a cruel and implacable foe. They have a right to expect better support from the rear.

** Original links gone; replaced – Ed

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Punishing Certainties

By lex, on June 8th, 2011

Courtesy of occasional reader Trapper, the thoughts of Major General Buster Howes, Royal Marines, OBE, as expressed to the Royal United Services Institute:

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Bonus Aircraft

By lex, on June 6th, 2011

A Pakistani Air Force F-16 pilot on exchange with the Turkish Air Force gives some interesting insights into the PAF’s procurement and tactical strategies: **

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Go Down Hard

By lex, on June 3rd, 2011

Gurkha Cpl. Dipprasad Pun thought his life was ending. He decided to make it count:

Cpl Pun, from the 1st Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles, was presented with the CGC during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, during which a number of other soldiers were recognised for their bravery.

Speaking after receiving the honour from the Queen, the Gurkha said: ‘I’m very excited and happy to here in the Palace to receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. This will be a great memory for the future…’

The soldier fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to thwart the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September.

At one point, after exhausting all his ammunition, he had to use the tripod of his machine gun to beat away a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound.

Speaking about the actions which earned him the CGC, he said: ‘At that time I wasn’t worried, there wasn’t any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint, I was alone.’I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I’d kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.

When the end is in sight, some men curl up, and other men stand up. Tough buggers, the Gurkhas.

Ayo Gurkahli!

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RLTW

By lex, on June 2nd, 2011

Meet Army SFC Leroy Arthur Petry, the second living awardee of the Medal of Honor:

Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry — despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety — consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.

As Petry released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated his right hand.

With a clear mind, Petry assessed his wound and placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete, he reported that he was still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again…

Higgins later wrote in a statement, “if not for Staff Sergeant Petry’s actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed…”

Petry currently serves as a liaison officer for the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition-Northwest Region, and provides oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured servicemembers and their families…

He has deployed eight times in support of the War on Terror, with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan.

Geez.

That’s all I’ve got: “Geez.”

 

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