Author Archives: Bill Brandt

Sign of the Times

Posted By lex, on March 9th, 2011

The Naval Academy is changing its core curriculum to include two courses on cyber security. These are the first major changes to the curriculum in ten years:

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Navy, USNA

Where are the Carriers?

By lex, on March 10th, 2011

That was the question that once used to spring unbidden to presidential lips when an international crisis bubbled up. It wasn’t that the sheer destructive power of the carrier’s air wing and her escorts were immediately put to use, so much as the weight of all that firepower rested heavily on tempestuous brows: An aircraft carrier strike group tends to alter the calculus.

So it’s with interest we read in Bill Gertz’ Inside the Ring that, with Libya burning and the tyrant starting to gradually throttle the nascent rebellion that President Obama has not shifted anyone anywhere:

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Strange Bedfellows

Posted By lex, on March 10th, 2011

It’s said that politics makes strange bedfellows. If that’s the case, then geo-politics must make stranger partners still: When they were in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban received nothing but inveterate malice from the regime in Tehran.

All changed:

NATO forces in Afghanistan have seized 48 Iranian-made rockets intended to aid the Taliban’s spring battle campaign, the most powerful illicit weapons ever intercepted en route from the neighboring state, officials said Wednesday.

The shipment is seen as a serious escalation in Iran’s state support of the Taliban insurgency, according to NATO officials and described in detail by an international intelligence official.

It’s also an escalation in the proxy war Western officials say Iran is waging against U.S. and other Western forces in Afghanistan, as Washington continues to lobby for tougher international sanctions against Tehran to dissuade it from its alleged goal of building nuclear weapons…

The rockets, which were shown to an Associated Press reporter, were machined without Iranian markings or any serial numbers, but the official says their technical details match other Iranian models…

Iran, which was a staunch opponent of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has denied allegations that it is supporting militants in the war torn country.

Oh, well then. Probably our mistake.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” At least the Iranians understand that.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Iran

Bombshells

Posted By lex, on March 10th, 2011

At least someone’s not afraid to drop them:

Social psychology has long been a haven for left-wing scholars. Jonathan Haidt, one of the best known and most respected young social psychologists, has heaved two bombshells at his field—one indicting it for effectively excluding conservatives (he is a liberal) and the other for what he sees as a jaundiced and cult-like opposition to religion (he is an atheist).

It’s a great read, no matter how you come down on the academy or the almighty.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Politics and Culture

Family Ties

Posted By lex, on March 11th, 2011

Not even a week after a helicopter mistakenly killed 9 Afghan boys collecting firewood, another NATO/Afghan raid netted some pretty strange fish, and gilled at least one of them:

A cousin of Afghanistan’s president was killed Wednesday during a night raid by NATO and Afghan forces in which they detained the man’s son as a suspected Taliban commander, as well as at least two of the family’s bodyguards.

The case brought the delicate issue of civilian casualties into the presidential palace and added to the already tense relationship between the Afghans and the Americans. It also raised questions about whether a member of the extended family of President Hamid Karzai might have Taliban ties, or whether bad intelligence led to a deadly raid on the home of an innocent family.

Either way, the raid raises the prospect of another intense flare-up between NATO and Afghan officials, coming after two other cases of civilian casualties in the past three weeks. Night raids on family compounds, in particular, have long been controversial for their intrusiveness and the civilian casualties associated with them. Startled Afghan men, who commonly keep weapons at home, often react by reaching for their guns and are then shot, often by Special Operations forces.

This raid occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, in the rural village of Karz, the Karzai clan’s ancestral home. The man who was killed was Yar Mohammad Karzai, a lifelong resident of the village who was in his early 60s.

Karzai meltdown in 3, 2,

Update: It may have been a Canadian operation – it occurred in their AO at least – and four of the five people of interest were released, with only the senior Taliban being kept.

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Flying Club

By lex, on March 11th, 2011

The California Air National Guard is not exactly burnishing their reputation at the top these days:

Four pilots who are under criminal investigation for receiving possibly illegal payments of public funds have been appointed to key leadership posts in the California National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno. Two former commanders, also targeted in the probe, previously were relieved of their command.

Guard officials recently acknowledged that the pilots who assumed the top jobs last fall – Wing Commander Col. James McKoane, Vice Commander Lt. Col. Victor S. Sikora, Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Sean Navin and Operations Commander Lt. Col. Douglas Weskamp – are subjects of the criminal probe and have been grounded indefinitely.

Now, being charged is not the same as being convicted. But as recent events have proven, in Navy we fire commanding officers and then conduct careful investigations.

I’d heard it said before that the Air National Guard was a pretty chummy collection of old boys. Looks like the FANG is out to prove it.

Times being hard all around and FY12 just around the corner, that seems like a pretty poor strategic choice to make.

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Indecisive

Posted by lex, on February 8, 2011

The US government was caught flat-footed by the street rebellions in Cairo and Alexandria, with dissonant messages coming from various quarters. In time, we settled on a policy of encouraging a rapid exit for Hosni Mubarak and real democratic reform for the repressed peoples of the world’s most populous Arab country.

That didn’t work either:

The Obama administration has reconciled itself to gradual political reform in Egypt, an approach that reflects its goal of maintaining stability in the Middle East but is at odds with demands of the protest movement in Cairo that President Hosni Mubarak relinquish power immediately.

A week after the Obama administration demanded a swift transition to a post-Mubarak era, it has dampened the sense of urgency and aligned itself with power-brokers such as new Vice President Omar Suleiman, who are urging a more stable, if much slower, move to real democracy.

But U.S. officials privately acknowledged that there is no guarantee that Suleiman, a former intelligence chief closely aligned with the military, is committed to substantial reforms.

Indecisive, foolish and impotent. Not a good combination of characteristics to display in that part of the world.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Politics

The Appeal of Flight

I can remember exactly what I was doing when I decided I couldn’t be flying anymore.

Among the airplanes I rented was a Beechcraft Skipper.

They only made about 300 of these little Skippers for training purposes but even that plane was about $130 an hour to rent.

And that’s back in the 80s.

It weighed all of about 1300 pounds with an engine a little over 100 hp.

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Pakistani Politics

Posted by lex, on January 4, 2011

Pretty rough and tumble, these days. You can’t even trust your bodyguard anymore:

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Taking the Hit

Posted by lex, on December 21, 2010

UK LCpl takes the first hit while Afghan insurgent hides behind 10-year old girl.

Pretty amazing.


Editor’s Note: The picture wasn’t originally in Lex’s small post, and his original link was gone – this is what I found in a replacement link, together with the picture and explanation. If this link disappears (and it will, sooner or later), this serves as the explanation – Ed.

Caring: LCpl Murfit is back on duty in Helmand and giving first aid to an Afghan girl. (Picture: Crown/MoD 2010) — SOLDIER CRAIG S NERVES OF STEEL SAVE AFGHAN CHILD S LIFE The actions of a Devon soldier, who took a bullet himself to save the life of a small child, have shown the difference between British courage and Taleban evil. Lance Corporal Craig Murfitt, a rifleman and medic serving in Afghanistan s Helmand province, demonstrated nerves of steel and the coolest of clear heads in a startling sequence of events, after being called to assist other soldiers during a recent patrol The 25-year-old, serving with the Tidworth-based 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was amongst a crew of soldiers patrolling in one of the Army s new Warthog armoured vehicles. They were out on a routine security patrol, providing reassurance to local communities, when suddenly they were re-tasked to reinforce infantry colleagues who been pinned down by fire from hidden insurgents and needed urgent back-up.


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Filed under Afghanistan, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, GWOT