Last Friday night, the moon phase left Afghanistan in near total darkness. Even with clear skies, the enemy knew that at the brightest moment, the moon would only appear as an irrelevant orange sliver. Such times are called “red illumination,” or “red illum.” Planning calendars in Afghanistan highlight periods of red illum because they hamper aviation.
Even though this is the year 2012, and the Curiosity Rover is beaming images from Mars more than four decades after astronauts first trod on the lunar surface, the moon phase remains important when planning operations. The moment that the nighttime attack on Camp Bastion was reported, the moon phase could have been safely guessed without looking up.