Tag Archives: Neptunus Lex

Brinicle

Posted By lex, on March 5th, 2012

Kinda spooky. If you’re a starfish.

And self-aware.

Extended treatment here.

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Strategic Pause

Posted By lex, on January 8th, 2012

Predictable consequences:

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Totality of Service

Posted By lex, on January 9th, 2012

And an honorable discharge:

Capt. Holly Graf, relieved as commanding officer of the cruiser Cowpens in January 2010 for cruelty, will retire with an honorable characterization of her service this year, overturning the recommendation of her board of inquiry, the Navy said in a statement released late on Friday.

The determination was made by Juan Garcia, assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, after he took into account her 26 years of service.

“Ultimately, Capt. Graf’s conduct fell short of that expected of our commanding officers,” Garcia said in the statement. “As a result, her non-judicial punishment, early transfer from command and early retirement are warranted. However, I have also determined that her conduct did not rise to a level sufficient to warrant the characterization of her service as less than honorable, especially when weighed against the totality of her service to the Navy.”

The three-member board of inquiry recommended in December 2010 that Graf retire with general conduct, the category below honorable.

Well, it isn’t like she killed anybody. That we know of.

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Not Gonna Happen

Posted By lex, on January 9th, 2012

The London-based Financial Times takes stock of President Obama’s defense pivot, and makes some recommendations to its European readership:

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Sang Froid

Posted by lex, on January 5th, 2012

How did Stennis Strike Group respond to the saber rattling of the Iranian general staff?

They didn’t:

If Iran’s warning on Tuesday to this American aircraft carrier was intended to disrupt the ship’s routine or provoke a high-seas reaction, nothing of the sort was evident on Wednesday.

Steaming in international waters over the horizon from the Iranian fleet, the John C. Stennis spent the day and the early hours of the night launching and recovering aircraft for its latest mission — supporting ground troops in Afghanistan. All visible indications were that the carrier’s crew was keeping to its scheduled work, regardless of any political or diplomatic fallout from Iran’s warnings.

“It is business as usual here,” said Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of the carrier strike group, as he watched a large-screen radar image showing the nearby sea and sky cluttered with commercial traffic.

The screen also showed Navy jets flying back and forth in a narrow air corridor to Afghanistan, known as “the boulevard.”

The day’s sorties, not the words of Iran, commanded attention here throughout the afternoon and evening. Returning pilots discussed low-elevation passes to suppress Taliban fighters near an Italian patrol in Farah Province and to help British troops under fire in Helmand Province. The subject of Iran barely came up in the briefings and meetings…

As they planned the next day’s missions even as the last aircraft returned to the ship, Admiral Faller and his officers and crew had no comment about the general’s threat.

They referred to what had been said already in Washington: that United States ships sailed lawfully in international waters, and that they would not tolerate any effort by Iran or any other nation to close the Strait of Hormuz.

As for that, they said, everything was normal in the strait that day. “We get all the news,” Admiral Faller said. “We get CNN. We get Fox. We have access to the Internet, and we are voracious consumers of information. We saw those statements. But we also watch the sea.”

All of it.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Ashawn Robertson walks catapult four checking for any foreign object damage prior to flight operations.

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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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Cloaking Device

Posted By lex, on January 5th, 2012

DARPA gets that teensiest bit closer to making one **:

Pentagon-supported physicists on Wednesday said they had devised a “time cloak” that briefly makes an event undetectable.

The laboratory device manipulates the flow of light in such a way that for the merest fraction of a second an event cannot be seen, according to a paper published in the science journal Nature.

It adds to experimental work in creating next-generation camouflage — a so-called invisibility cloak in which specific colours cannot be perceived by the human eye.

“Our results represent a significant step towards obtaining a complete spatio-temporal cloaking device,” says the study, headed by Moti Fridman of Cornell University in New York…

After proving that the “cloak” is possible, the next step for the researchers is to expand the time gap by orders of magnitude, firstly to microseconds and then to milliseconds, said Boyd and Shi.

The time cloak has a potential use in boosting security in fibre-optic communications because it breaks up optical signals, lets them travel at different speeds and then reassembles them, which makes data hard to intercept.

Last year, scientists reported a step forward in so-called metamaterials which act as a cloaking of space, as opposed to time.

Metamaterials are novel compounds whose surface that interacts with light at specific frequencies thanks to a tiny, nano-level structure. As a result, light flows around the object — rather like water that bends around a rock in a stream — as opposed to being absorbed by it.

Tinkering with time and space.

Geez.

** 03-21-21  Original link gone; substitute found – Ed.

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The Desired Outcome

Posted By lex, on October 26th, 2011

We spent eight years, close to a trillion dollars, and the lives of 4000 US servicemen to change Iraq from a national security threat into a weakly functioning democracy in the Arab Middle East. At least 100,000 Iraqi citizens lost their lives in that transition. We had the opportunity to establish an toehold in a strategically crucial part of the world from whence we cannot rationally disengage, for all its toxins and no matter our own desires.

The final withdrawal of US forces from that blasted land will come in accordance with a timeline finalized between President Obama’s predecessor and the legally established government of Iraq. Altering that agreement in a way that more closely suited both our own security needs and those of the fledgling Iraqi republic would have required political courage on all parts, and inspired leadership here at home.

Alas, there was none:**

Throughout the summer and autumn, as talks on a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq foundered, President Barack Obama and his point man on Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden, remained largely aloof from the process, logs released by the U.S. Embassy here suggest.

The omission would be an unusual one, given the high priority U.S. officials had given to achieving an agreement for some sort of residual U.S. presence in Iraq after the Dec. 31 pullout deadline, and the White House labeled the suggestion inaccurate. A spokesman said the logs released by the embassy were incomplete.

The listing provided by the embassy _ drawn, the embassy said, from the White House website _ indicates that Obama had no direct contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki between Feb. 13, when he telephoned the prime minister, until Friday, when he called Maliki to tell him U.S. troops would be withdrawn by Dec. 31.

The embassy listing showed that Biden telephoned Maliki on Dec. 21, the day Maliki formed a new government, and visited here Jan. 18, but had no direct contact after that date, according to the official listing.

The White House dismisses the embassy logs, and disputes the legacy of disengagement they reveal. But the result is perfectly in alignment with what we can deduce were the White House’s over-arching policy objectives: 1) Get US forces out of Iraq before the 2012 election cycle no matter what the cost, and 2) Don’t let any of what happens afterward stick to Obama himself.

SecDef Leon Panetta can bark all he wants at Iran, but come 2011 – or perhaps sooner – the mullahs will know that he has no bite.

** 03-15-21 Original link gone; substitute found – Ed.

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War, and War’s Alarms

Posted by lex, on October 27th, 2011

It’s been a little while since a German chancellor spoke this way:

Peace should not be taken for granted if the euro fails, German chancellor Merkel told MPs Wednesday (26 October) ahead of the eurozone summit where an increase of the bail-out fund firepower may lead to Germany’s own state assets being taken as collateral.

In a dark blue jacket reflecting the mood in and about the eurozone, Merkel abandoned her usual cautious rhetoric warned outright of a war.

“Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That’s why I say: If the euro fails, Europe fails,” Merkel said, followed by a long applause from all political groups.

Having cannibalized their national military forces to subsidize growingly unaffordable social programs, they’d have to go at with plowshares and pitchforks, prolly.

Which, “Peace in our time,” and so on.

Europe just chose a unique way of getting there.

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This Was, I Suppose, Inevitable

Posted by lex, on October 27th, 2011

ISAF has turned to winning Afghan hearts and minds, 140 characters at a time:

U.S. forces feared they were losing the information war to the Taliban and now are fighting back with Twitter – using those brisk 140-character messages to get out the other side of the story.

“The Taliban were just constantly putting out false information and propaganda,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings. “Some of it was so wrong we finally had to start engaging, and backing up our information with the facts…”

“It allows us to keep our followers dynamically informed while also keeping the enemy’s statements in check,” Cummings said in an e-mail exchange with CNN.

It is easy to see this play out on any day. A Twitter account that frequently puts out news reports favoring the Taliban, , trumpets information of a major battlefield success. “Mujahideen bring down US helicopter in Kunar,” says the tweet.

But over at International Security Assistance Force headquarters, the social media experts are on the case on the ISAF Twitter account. “We have no reports of any missing helos. Take any Taliban reports with a block of salt,” their tweet answers. And later, “Reports of a shoot-down are false.”

It doesn’t cost much to station two social media experts on site to trade tweets with goat-bothering rustics and their fan base.

But I doubt it’s worth all that much, either.

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