Category Archives: Carroll LeFon

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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Misplaced Priorities

By lex, on June 14th, 2011

Pakistan’s ISI has finally gotten around to capturing the true miscreants responsible the revealed presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad:

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

It’s good to learn that, with near daily explosions in the schools and marketplaces of Pakistan’s urban warrens, the intelligence service has kept its eye on the prize.

Pakistani Judge: You have been charged with providing information leading to the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist. How do you plead?

Defendant: Is this a trick question?

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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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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:

‘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.

 

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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: *

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.

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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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