By lex, on September 11th, 2011
Today is the day we tell our stories. You have heard it before, but this is mine:
We had left Pearl Harbor three days earlier, our weapons unloaded as were a thousand sailors and officers to make room for a Tiger Cruise: Fathers, sons and brothers, mothers and daughters, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews. They would spend the last six days of our deployment with us, enjoying their exposure to an aircraft carrier at sea.
We had returned after a six month deployment from the brutal summertime heat of the Arabian Gulf, our air wing patrolling the Southern No Fly Zone in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, getting shot at, and shooting back in that desultory but deadly way that we had by then become accustomed to. Not really at war. Not really at peace. Always waiting for the first blow to land.
By lex, on July 9th, 2008
“You’ll get to see more of your family,” they said.
And at 1930 on a Wednesday evening, supper cools as we severally debate just the right words to capture the moment on slide 11 of an 84 slide Milestone C PowerPoint brief.
This is the dream. I’m living it. Now.
Update: 2006 and we’re all the way to slide 28. Now we’re cooking with gas!
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By lex, on September 10th, 2011
Our security apparatus is cycling up big time in anticipation of a terrorist strike on the anniversary of 9/11. Heavy weapons squads are to be deployed by the New York City police department in Manhattan. Citizens are advised to dial 311 if they see something suspicious, and 911 if they witness something dangerous.
The intelligence is “credible and specific,” according to news reports. At least one of the plotters is said to be an American citizen. They even have a name.
By lex, on September 9th, 2011
The things you learn, ten years on:
Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.
The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.
Except her own plane. So that was the plan.
Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.
“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”
I’m glad it didn’t come to that. We needed the Passengers of Flight 93 to be the first Americans to fight back.
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By lex, on September 4th, 2011
As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks draw nigh, one senses a desire to try and frame the last ten years in some sepia tinted portrait, place it in a box and put it away. It’s been a long ten years, and – having seen all too well what we are up against overseas, and having witnessed so much human tragedy in the fight against violent extremism – you get the feeling that we’d like to talk about something else.
By lex, on August 31st, 2011
Admiral Bill McRaven speaks on the use of DevGru forces for IRF duties in Afghanistan:
The new commander of American Special Operations forces has defended the use of commandos in a Navy Seals unit to back up a raid in Afghanistan earlier this month that ended in tragedy when a Chinook helicopter was shot down, rejecting criticism that planning for the operation was different from other missions that had been carried out successfully, as many as a dozen on a typical night.