Category Archives: GWOT

Insights on al Qaeda

By lex, on April 16th, 2008

We’ve become accustomed to thinking of al Qaeda as a shadowy terror organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of moderate Arab governments and the forceful imposition of their own sere ideology, first in their own region and then in the world. And although we knew little about their internal operations and organization prior to 9/11, more and more information has been coming to light over the years.

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Five years in

By lex, on March 19th, 2008

A patchwork of perspectives on Iraq from soldiers, a mother who lost her son, a college student protesting the war, politicians, advisers and a pair of Iraqis.

Do not be surprised if there is no coherent narrative on what has happened. But neither close your mind to the sounds of cautious optimism.

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Long War metaphor?

 

By lex, on February 9th, 2008

From the time of the Spanish Armada until today, naval warfare has been about firepower and mobility: Put the most firepower you can on the largest ships that will hold them and row, sail or steam them as fast as you can into harm’s way.

Where weight and accuracy were matched, tactics held sway – Drake used fireships and the weather gage to sink what Spanish ships he could before their survivors dashed themselves to bits against the rocks of Ireland. Hundreds of years later battleship sailors conjured the ghosts of Jutland and Tsushima by maneuvering to “cross the T” at Cape Esperance and the Surigao Straight.

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Asked and answered

By lex, on April 27th, 2006

At the top of the month I asked you * whether the upcoming movie release by United Artists entitled, “United 93,” **  and dramatizing the events of September 11, 2001, was too much, too soon.

I asked because I wondered whether the gravity of that day’s events needs any Hollywood dramatization to lend it weight, burned as it is into my memory, as it is in yours, as it is in all of ours.

Because the memories of those frozen moments when the minute hand refused to advance is with us still.

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Precise fires

By lex, on January 16th, 2008

Army Rangers on a raid hunting an al Qaeda assassination cell in Mosul on Christmas morning got an unwelcome present: The sight of two gunmen playing the “human shield” game. Unfortunately for the terrorists, it’s hard for two grown men to hide behind an eleven year old child. Using precise fires, the Rangers killed both men, leaving the child unharmed.

That’s when it started to get interesting:

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What if God was one of us?

By lex, on December 20th, 2007

No, not in some syrupy Joan Osborne sense. But really.

One of us.

LRAD (Long Range Accoustic Device) is basically a focused beam of sound. Originally, it was designed to emit a very loud sound. Anyone whose head was touched by this beam, heard a painfully loud sound. Anyone standing next to them heard nothing…

The navy planned to use LRAD to warn ships to get out of the way. This was needed in places like the crowded coastal waters of the northern Persian Gulf, where the navy patrols. Many small fishing and cargo boats ply these waters, and it’s often hard to get the attention of the crews. With LRAD, you just aim it at a member of the crew, and have an interpreter “speak” to the sailor. It was noted that the guy on the receiving end was sometimes terrified, even after he realized it was that large American destroyer that was talking to him. This apparently gave the army guys some ideas, for there are now rumors in Iraq of a devilish American weapon that makes people believe they are hearing voices in their heads…

Islamic terrorists tend to be superstitious and, of course, very religious. LRAD can put the “word of God” into their heads. If God, in the form of a voice that only you can hear, tells you to surrender, or run away, what are you gonna do?

 

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Survivor’s guilt

By lex, on September 20th, 2007

There have been at least five separate occasions in Iraq where soldiers, Marines – even a Navy sailor – have literally “jumped on the grenade” for their comrades, making the ultimate sacrifice. Some of us have been instructed that “there is no greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends.”

The gift of life, a second chance.

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