Category Archives: GWOT

9/11: An Airline Pilot’s Memory of that Day

Posted on September 11, 2021

Some of us were reminiscing what we were doing that morning 20 years ago, and one Lexican had a particular poignant memory. With his permission to post this, here it is.

“On this date, 20 years ago I was a young captain on the MD-80. We got up early for a trip from Houston to Tampa. It was my leg and the second day of a four day trip. It was a beautiful bright morning and clear skies at both Houston and Tampa airports. A great day to fly and what I thought at the time would be an easy leg. Like the fateful United and American flights that would go down that day, and were departing at about the same time as I was, the last thought on my mind was a hijacking. There were no warnings. No memos to keep a “heads up”. Nothing.

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Posted by lex, on January 11th, 2012

Two carriers for CENTCOM:

The U.S. military said on Wednesday that a new aircraft carrier strike group had arrived in the Arabian Sea and that another was on its way to the region, but denied any link to recent tensions with Iran and portrayed the movements as routine.

The shift in the powerful U.S. naval assets comes at a moment of heightened tensions with Iran, which has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz – the world’s most important oil shipping lane – if U.S. and EU sanctions over its nuclear program cut off its oil exports.

The U.S. military has said it will halt any blockade of the strategic strait and the top U.S. naval officer acknowledged on Tuesday that preparing for a potential conflict there was something that “keeps me awake at night.”

Still, the Pentagon denied any direct link between recent tensions and the movement of aircraft carriers.

Vinson replaces Stennis, and Lincoln – another PACFLEET carrier – is on its way west through the Indian Ocean. Vinson deployed in November of last year, and Lincoln – which deployed for a round-the-world cruise in December of 2011 in order to make a scheduled overhaul in Newport News, VA this August. A peacetime, rotational presence, no doubt. Fortunate happenstance. Luck o’ the draw.

Still, that’s an awful lot of firepower.

And Stennis isn’t home yet.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, GWOT, Navy

Strategic Pause

Posted By lex, on January 8th, 2012

Predictable consequences:

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Filed under Afghanistan, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, GWOT, Neptunus Lex

Unsung Heroes

Posted by lex, on January 5th, 2012

Admiration and respect are often given to the dog soldiers and grunt Marines, whose lives in combat theaters are often characterized by hours of boredom marked with moments of terror. We hold our special forces operators in a kind of awe, for the training they undergo even before they are inserted into hostile situations where speed and stealth – two often contradictory attributes – ensure their lethality and survival.

The folks I think deserve more recognition and honor than they often receive however, are the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians. When they get the call, they go in almost certain that every ounce of their personal courage will be required to perform a task that requires utmost precision in accordance with their rigorous training.

And even then, things can go wrong:

When Navy bomb disposal technician Chad Regelin was named 2011 USO sailor of the year, he couldn’t make it to the October gala in Washington, D.C.

He was in Afghanistan, standing in for a wounded bomb technician.

That job took his life Monday. Regelin, a 24-year-old sailor assigned to a San Diego unit, was killed during combat operations with a Marine Corps special operations company in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced.

His brother Ryan said the sailor was on foot patrol when an explosion occurred. Regelin went to check it out and a second bomb, detonated via a wire, went off…

Regelin was nominated for the USO award — which goes to a junior enlisted person for a specific act of bravery in the prior calendar year — for an earlier Afghanistan tour, from August 2010 to March 2011.

During that deployment, Regelin personally found and destroyed 24 roadside explosives, trained 13 people in bomb detection and took part in 20 firefights.

During a two-day stretch of intense fighting, the sailor stayed calm as the enemy attacked while he was in the process of disarming a 60-pound bomb. His cool head helped save the 10-person unit that he was leading.

The Navy nominated Regelin, a petty officer 1st class stationed at San Diego Naval Base, for the Bronze Star with V for the incident. The sailor’s commander called Regelin a star.

Ave atque vale, frater.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, GWOT, Heroes Among Us, Navy

Very Light Attack

Posted By lex, on September 21st, 2011

The Navy – of all the services – appears ready to commit nearly significant resources to a propeller-driven light attack aircraft ** in support of deep overland NSW missions in Afghanistan:

Lockheed Martin and Hawker-Beechcraft are considering pitching its AT-6B light-attack counterinsurgency plane for the upcoming Navy-led Combat Dragon II program, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The Navy recently shifted over $17 million into the Combat Dragon II program, designed to prove that a small, turboprop-driven aircraft can be used for “high end/special aviation” missions in Afghanistan.

The program was driven by the need coming out of from Central Command to have aircraft do close air support missions that larger fighters and bombers could not do, specifically in support of Naval Special Warfare units.

The Navy tried to fill that requirement through the Imminent Fury program, using the Brazilian-built Embraer Super Tucano. But that program fizzled out shortly before the planes headed out to Afghanistan for operational tests.

What I found really interesting was the cited quote from USAF Chief-of-Staff Norman Schwarz that the junior service has no intention of fielding a COIN-tailored light attack aircraft of its own, despite the stated requirement from the JROC and JRB.

Which they call them “requirements” for a reason, and talk about not getting it…

** 03-11-21 New link found – Ed.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Flying, GWOT, Military

Moment of Truth

Posted By lex, on May 12th, 2011

Writing in the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria says that this is now is the moment for America to get tough with Pakistan’s military elites, who have for too long played both sides of the terror fence as an element of misguided national strategy. Now is the moment to hasten Pakistan’s transformation into a “normal, modern country.”

The moment will pass.

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Fiddle, Fiddle

By lex, on March 26th, 2011

More good news from the Arabian peninsula:

U.S. spy agencies have gathered new intelligence indicating that al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen may be close to launching a terrorist strike, according to U.S. officials who said the development has added new urgency to concerns about the turmoil in the Middle East.

The officials said the agencies have assembled only fragmentary information on the plot and do not have enough detail to issue a public warning or to take specific measures to counter the threat.

But officials said the intelligence is regarded as credible, creating a scenario that has worried U.S. counterterrorism officials since the crisis in the Middle East began. The threat comes at a time when counterterrorism operations in Yemen have been disrupted by mass protests that threaten the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A couple of years back it was widely fashionable to “question the timing” of such a revelation.


It is what it is.

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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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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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