The profile describes Alexander as a patriot, introspective, self-effacing, and given to corny jokes. But critics cited in the lengthy piece also assert that he “has become blinded by the power of technology.”
Alexander’s approach is contrasted with that of his predecessor, Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden. “Hayden’s attitude was ‘Yes, we have the technological capability, but should we use it?’ Keith’s was ‘We have the capability, so let’s use it,’ ” according to a former intelligence official who worked with both men.
Taliban fighters, dressed as American soldiers, sneaked into a massive US air base in Afghanistan on the night of Sept. 14, 2012. Armed only with rifles and bags of raisins and nuts, the 15 intruders killed two marines, and destroyed six Harrier jets and an Air Force C-130 worth $200 million. In the latest issue of GQ, reporter Matthieu Aikins examines the battle at Camp Bastion, where the United States suffered the largest loss of aircraft in combat since Vietnam.
A number of factors were behind the loss of American lives and aircraft, Mr. Aikins found. Marine leaders cut the number of troops patrolling outside the fence around the base as the US prepared to turn over combat operations to the Afghans. A key section of base perimeter was controlled by the British, who had, in turn, delegated guard-tower duty to a handful of soldiers from the small nation of Tonga who lacked night-vision gear and had sometimes been found sleeping on duty.