Author Archives: Bill Brandt

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

Back To The Index 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT, Lex

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:

‘If you’re constantly trying to make war more precise and predictable, you’ll promote people who thrive in squeezing out the marginal drop of uncertainty. If you recognize war’s essential messiness and the enemy’s adaptability, you’ll reward mavericks, risk-takers, and people who thrive in uncertainty.’

Finally, I’d like to leave you with an image of Corporal Mike Stevenson. He is a 24 year old Royal Marines Commando serving in 40 Commando. It is the 20th of March 2003, a pitch black night and he is a few miles off the coast of Iraq’s Al Faw Peninsular. On the horizon, he can see fires erupting and above, the after burners of salvos of Patriot and Tomahawk missiles. He leads his 7 man section across the deck of HMS ARK ROYAL, towards the clattering helicopter, They are all encumbered with massive rucksacks – the equivalent of their body weight in kit, ammunition, and weapon systems. Their sweat has already begun to smudge their black maquillage.

This is the moment he has rehearsed repeatedly for the past 2 months – since he was first briefed, in outline, on his mission. He knows every building on his target intimately – has drawn them, modeled them, metaphorically inhabited them. He knows the ranges between buildings and the emergency escape plan if it all goes wrong. Just as the Sea King door is about to slid shut, his Company Commander appears. “There’s been a change of plan ‘Stevie’”“ he bellows – “you have to attack a totally different target, about 10 ‘klicks’ from the original location.” Stevenson looks at his Boss, a big toothy smile lighting up his face “No worries, Sir – I knew it was too good to be true!” and pulls out a pen to write down the new Grid Reference.

As Napoleon said of the Royal Marines – ‘What could be done with 100,000 men such as these.’

A good anecdote, and a nice ending. Read the whole thing to learn how punishing are the certainties with which we prepare for the next conflict. And, perhaps not so surprisingly, the benefits to a maritime nation of an adaptable, scalable amphibious force.

 

Back To The Index 

Leave a comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Neptunus Lex

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: *

Q 16: Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?

A: On one occasion – in one of the international Anatolian Eagles – PAF pilots were pitted against RAF Typhoons, a formidable aircraft. There were three set-ups and in all three, we shot down the Typhoons. The RAF pilots were shocked.

Q 17: Any particular reason for your success?

A: NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat. They are trained for BVR engagements and their tactics are based on BVR engagements. These were close-in air combat exercises and we had the upper hand because close-in air combat is drilled into every PAF pilot and this is something we are very good at.

An interesting comment indeed.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Flying, GWOT, Lex

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!

Back To The Index 

Leave a comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, GWOT

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.”

 

Back To The Index 

Leave a comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT, Lex, Neptunus Lex, Terrorism

Deep Stall

By lex, on May 31st, 2011

On the weekend gig, I introduce the guest pilots to the notion of aerodynamic stall. Some of them get a gleam of fear in their eyes when they hear the word “stall”, because they invariably think it is ineluctably linked with “spin, crash and die.” Which can be true, but isn’t necessarily so: Learning how to stall and recover an airplane is one of the first things the novice aviator is taught, and it is re-learned in every aircraft transition.

When I brief my civvie passengers on weekend dogfight hops – that’s not a Michael Vick dance variation, by the way – I try to explain to them the relationship between stick position and angle-of-attack: “If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull stick aft, the houses get smaller. If you keep pulling aft on the stick, the houses start getting bigger again.”

Note to Air France: I’m available for consultative work.

Point.enquete.af447.27mai2011.En

I get that the weather was rough. I understand that the compound emergency and loss of normal displays was confusing. I suspect that in their peril, the pilots were left to wonder whether some strange software gremlin had suddenly rendered their aircraft un-flyable.

But – and this is not to beat a dead horse – I really don’t understand how no one among three very experienced and highly trained airline transport pilots ever figured out that it was worth a try to lower the nose and reduce the angle of attack. Maybe get some airflow over the wings.

Stall warnings coupled with wing rock are classic indications of deep stall, and if what you’re doing isn’t working it’s time to consider something else.

Back To The Index 

Leave a comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Flying, Lex, Neptunus Lex

Memorial Day 2011

By lex, on May 30th, 2011

Ramirez, lifted from Theo, via soltow. It may be possible to have one without the other, but we haven’t seemed to find they way yet.

MemorialDay2011

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
–Laurence Binyon

Back To The Index 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized