Will the Paralympic after-glow go global?

“They always loved you John, I just gave them permission“.  Thus spoke film director Quentin Tarantino who, according to legend, felt the need to explain to his star and sometime muse John Travolta just why the latter’s career was hitting the stratosphere a in 1994 after languishing in Hollywood doldrums for what seemed like aeons . . .wasn’t he the one in that musical whaddyamacallit, Haircream? people would quip as John meandered aimlessly from flop to flop evenutally hitting rock bottom with the “Look Who’s Talking” series. Read more

Rediscovered track of the month: Sep ’12

Judas Priest, Diamonds & Rust

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No Easy Day by Mark Owen: review

Just finished skimming “No Easy Day” by US Navy SEAL Mark Owen (aka Matt Bissonnette). The details on operation Neptune Spear are quite in-depth, very readable and occasionally accompanied by some nice turns of phrase . . .  I cannot help but agree with the sentiment the author expresses upon finding OBL’s weapons: 

“I slid my hand up and felt two guns . . . I took each weapon down and pulled out the magazine and checked the chambers. They were both empty. He hadn’t even prepared a defense. He had no intention of fighting. He asked his followers for decades to wear suicide vests or fly planes into buildings but didn’t even pick up his weapon. In all my deployments, we routinely saw this phenomenon. The higher up the food chain the targeted individual was, the bigger a pussy he was . . . it is always the young and impressionable who strap on the explosives and blow themselves up”

Much has been written about how this account is at odds with the official version and that it shows OBL was unarmed. Former SEAL Brandon Webb told Newshour (4/9/12) that this was a breach of the Geneva Convention while Kimberly Dozier, the intelligence correspondent for the Associated Press, said the SEALs were still within the rules of war. Personally I’d agree with the latter and besides they didn’t know he was unarmed until after they’d shot him . . . but does anyone in the world really care anymore?

TTP: Tactics, Techniques and Procedures

The author’s lawyer maintains that  he was under no obligation to have his manuscript vetted by the Pentagon. This is echoed by Mr Owen himself who writes in his preface that “no classified information is released” however, just a few paras later he perhaps gives us an indication of the unease that might be coming his way: “it was a long, hard decision to write this book and some in the community will look down on me for doing so.” He and his publishers seem to have taken the “ask for forgiveness not permission” strategy when deciding whether this book should see the light of day;  it might backfire because the Pentagon has just said the book does indeed “contain sensitive and classified information”. Our SEAL on Newshour tonight, Brandon Webb, disagrees . . .  so the question reamains, what sensitive stuff is in there? I’m no military expert but there appear to be several new and fascinating details:

1. The explosives SEAL asked to destroy the crashed Black Hawk was given the order “prep it to blow”. Much to the alarm of his colleagues, he started to unpack his gear right there in the house thinking the order referred to OBL’s abode. He was swiftly disabused of the idea. p242

2. Owing to time overruns and the extra weight from carrying all the SEALs from the crashed chopper, the remaining  chopper actually needed a fuel stop during the exfiltration. One of the smaller support CH-47 choppers supplied the juice on the ground some distance from the compound. p259

3. During the exfil Pakistan had actually scrambled F16 jets while the SEAL choppers were still in the vicinity of the compound. It’s hard to see how the author knows this but it just shows how close the world came to the cataclysmic scenario of the US and Pakistani militaries clashing. p260

4. They left behind almost as much intelligence as they took. They just didn’t have the time to search every nook and cranny. The author writes that “We left drawers unopened. The hallway on the second floor had stacks of boxes untouched”. Undoubtedly this material is now in the hands of Pakistan’s ISI. A useful bargaining chip for them to use against the US or indeed against the Pakistani government the next time their funding comes up for negotiation.

5. There was no fast-roping down from the choppers as had been envisaged in the plans. The surviving chopper,Chalk 2, saw that Chalk 1 had suffered a ‘hard’ landing and decided to alter the plan and set down outside the compound from where the SEALs then had to blow their way through the northern perimeter (the author reveals that this was indeed the contingency plan should landing inside the compound prove impossible). In fact the only person to fast-rope down was the pilot of Chalk 1 who was forced to do so only because the angle of the chopper lying against the wall meant that he’d have to risk a 6-foot jump in the dark wearing full kit or use the rope . . he went for the latter.

6. The pilot of the destroyed chopper Chalk 1 considered trying to fly the chopper back out — with no troops on board it might just have been possible — but decided to err on the side of caution.