Friday, January 11, 2008

The Incident in Hormuz Revisted

Former Spook and Independent Liberal look at nostalgia for the Gulf of Tonkin. Whrever it may be, whoever it's against, there's only ever one war: Vietnam. Maybe this is is Vietnam was only the foreign theater of a war that really had its roots in America and has never stopped.



Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Vietnam was to some extent a US civil war fought in someone else's backyard.

But most other US wars also had a very large "civil" component to them -- from the approx 1/3 of colonists who supported the Brits during the Revolutionary War onwards. Maybe only WWII did not have that large "civil" component -- and that may have been because the US was led by left-wingers who had no compunction about silencing opposition.

Which brings us to today. Can a house divided against itself still stand?

1/11/2008 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

The "strange accent" voice sounds just like someone talking through a cheap voice-changer from the spy store.

Did any of you crack up when you read the initial reports that the combined cruiser/frigate/destroyer force had an M-240 trained on the offending vessels?

How 'bout that cute little R2-D2 looking Phalanx thing up there on the superstructure, y'know, looks like an upside-down trashcan. It's a robot 20-mm cannon that can shoot down inbound missiles, y'think that might have been looking at those scary motorboats?

As for any possibility of enveloping forces threatening US Navy in the Gulf, not likely.


Special request: any links to the air bombardment specifics from the other day? Sounds like it was purely a clearing mission, but very detailed, blowing up IED's and armories. What ordnance, airburst, pseudo-daisy-cutter mission techniques? Any info out there?

1/11/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

...Iran could launch successive waves of explosives-packed boats against U.S. warships in the Gulf, piloted by "Ashura" or suicide bombers. The first wave can draw on more than 1,000 small fast-attack boats operated by the Revolutionary Guards navy, equipped with rocket launchers, heavy machine-guns and possibly Sagger anti-tank missiles. In recent years, the Iranians have used these small boats to practice "swarming" raids on commercial vessels and U.S. warships patrolling the Persian Gulf.

A second wave of suicide attacks could be carried out by "suicide submarines" and semi-submersible boats, before Iran deploys its Russian-built Kilo-class submarines and Chinese-built Huodong missile boats to attack U.S. warships. The 114-foot Chinese boats are equipped with advanced radar-guided C-802s, a sea-skimming cruise-missile with a 60-mile range.

Iran's naval strategists believe the U.S. will attempt to land ground forces to the east of Bandar Abbas. Their plans call for extensive use of ground-launched tactical missiles, coastal artillery, as swell as strategic missiles aimed at Saudi Arabia and Israel tipped with chemical, biological and possibly nuclear warheads. The Iranians also plan to lay huge minefields across the Persian Gulf inside the Strait of Hormuz, effectively trapping ships that manage to cross the Strait before they can enter the Gulf, where they can be destroyed by coastal artillery and land based "Silkworm" missile batteries.

Today, Iran has sophisticated EM-53 bottom-tethered mines, which it purchased from China in the 1990s. The EM-53 presents a serious threat to major U.S. surface vessels, since its rocket-propelled charge is capable of hitting the hull of its target at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. Some analysts believe it can knock out a U.S. aircraft carrier.

"I think it would be problematic for any navy to face a combination of mines, small boats, anti-ship cruise missiles, torpedoes, coastal artillery, and Silkworms," said retired Navy Commander Joseph Tenaglia, CEO of Tactical Defense Concepts, a maritime security company. "This is a credible threat."

2/26/2007 05:21:00 PM

US intelligence has located advanced anti-ship missiles are deployed at Abu Musa and two other islands, Qeshm and Sirri. Among the most dangerous, is the Russian-made 3M-82 Moskit anti-ship cruise missiles (NATO designation: SS-N-22 "Sunburn". To demonstrate their effectiveness, one has only to be reminded of the serious incident, in which, right in these very waters, in May 1987 the USS Stark was nearly cut in half by two anti-ship missiles. The Asian Times reported recently, that Abu Musa Island, along with its mountainous areas, is teeming with Supersonic cruise missiles such as Yakonts, Moskits, Granits, and Brahmos, controlled by Iranian IRGC crews.

1/11/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

In my days in the Navy, we had few defenses against small boat attacks. Today, however, Austin Bay observes:
The deadly suicide boat attack on the destroyer USS Cole in October 2000, as it lay anchored in the port of Aden, Yemen, made "close-in" defense of U.S. warships a priority. The U.S. Navy began arming its capital ships with .50 caliber heavy machineguns, assorted light machine guns and 25 millimeter automatic cannons (like those mounted on U.S. Army Bradley armored infantry vehicles). Crewmen also occasionally deploy shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles (another infantry weapon) as an additional defense against light, low-flying airplanes (a Cessna on a suicide mission) or drone aircraft carrying explosives.

In June 2005, I spent three days on the cruiser USS Normandy, deployed near Iraq's Al Basrah offshore oil terminal. The Normandy carries long-range missiles, a modern naval cannon and electronics capable of identifying targets hundreds of miles away. However, Iranian dhows operating beyond the terminal's exclusion zone were the most immediate threat, and the huge capital ship bristled with light automatic weapons manned by sailors. After inspecting a .50 caliber mount, I jokingly called the Normandy the "world's biggest PT boat." In World War II, U.S. PT boats often fought Japanese barges and small craft up close, infantry-like combat waged in shallow seas.

Naval mines are the real threat to big ships operating in the Persian Gulf. A naval mine can break and sink a ship. But mines are material things, deadly lumps without personality or religion. Sinking an American destroyer with a mine lacks the brazen testosterone, theological resolve and sensational media impact of a jihadist-manned speedboat braving the hail of fire to slam into the arrogant infidel warship's disintegrating armor.

1/11/2008 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

The MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS - pronounced "sea-whiz") is a fast-reaction, rapid-fire 20-millimeter gun system that provides US Navy ships with a terminal defense against anti-ship missiles that have penetrated other fleet defenses.

Phalanx is a point-defense, total-weapon system consisting of two 20mm gun mounts that provide a terminal defense against incoming air targets. CIWS, without assistance from other shipboard systems, will automatically engage incoming anti-ship missiles and high-speed, low-level aircraft that have penetrated the ship primary defense envelope. The unique closed-loop fire control system that tracks both the incoming target and the stream of outgoing projectiles gives CIWS the capability to correct its aim to hit fast-moving targets, including ASMs. The intent is to destroy the warhead on incoming missile.

The gun subsystem employs a gatling gun consisting of a rotating cluster of six barrels. The gatling gun fires a 20mm subcaliber sabot projectile using a heavy-metal (either tungsten or depleted uranium) 15mm penetrator surrounded by a plastic sabot and a light-weight metal pusher. The gatling gun fires 20mm ammunition at either 3,000 or 4,500 rounds-per-minute with a burst length of continuous, 60, or 100 rounds.

Block 1B Phalanx Surface Mode (PSUM) upgrade allows engagement of small, high-speed, maneuvering surface craft and low, slow-moving aircraft, and hovering helicopters. This upgrade incorporates a thermal imager, an automatic acquisition video tracker, and a stabilization system for the imager, providing both day and night detection of threats. The thermal imager improves the system's ability to engage anti-ship cruise missiles by providing more accurate angle tracking information to the fire control computer. Additionally, the FLIR assists the radar in engaging some ASCM’s bringing a greater chance of ship survivability. The thermal imager Automatic Acquisition Video Tracker (AAVT) and stablilization system provide surface mode and electro-optic (EO) angle track. Operational evaluation of Block 1B, conducted aboard USS Underwood (FFG-36) and the Self-Defense Test Ship, was completed in August 1999. According to Phalanx Program Office plans, Block 1B will be installed in 11 other FFG-7 CORT ships between June 2000 and July 2002.

It looks like R-D2 with a hard-on...

1/11/2008 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Maybe some sort of cluster munition is already being developed. I would expect an effective CBU to be a TOW missile, with radar-based targeting and a proximity fuse.

The idea would be to deploy a cloud of bomblets centered on the projected flight path of the incoming missile. Presumably, such a bomblet cloud would also be effective against small boats and their crews.

I'm not going to speculate on whether we already have U.S. attack subs deployed in the Persian Gulf.

1/11/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Foobarista said...

One wonders if an old trick I used to use in "Civilization" naval battles against vast numbers of crap boats would be useful here: seaborne nukes (that I used in Civ, but probably not here...), or failing that, nice wide-area fuel-air bombs. Cleans out a region of boats all at once without the worry that they'll get a shot off at you while you're picking them off with your deck guns.

1/11/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Time to clear "the brush". The Iranians have provoke us enough to warrant a "break their toys" response. Destroy their navy and their missiles. Think it should be a USN only show to remind the world what Uncle Sam can do when he gets pissed off. Ten of our sixteen carrier battle groups converging on Iran all at once should do the trick. Maybe throw in a couple landings by Navy Seals and Marine Recon forces for good measure. That would get the Iranians undivided attention, no?

1/11/2008 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I believe in pre-emptive strikes against an enemy's forces if we know that something is highly afoot. Never play defense if you don't have to. Those swarming little boats of the Iranians and their underwater fleet will get tucked away in Davey Jones' Locker if we hit 'em as they are getting ready to ambush us. First, you task some drones and satellites to keep an eye on where they are likely to sally forth from. If you see them preparing and massing, you clobber them.

It's always easier to seek forgiveness than it is to get permission.

1/11/2008 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Abu Masa and the other two islands should be pre-emptively flattened as well. We have the assets to do this and should use them at the first sign that hostilities may be underway.

Again, easier to seek forgiveness than to seek permission.

1/11/2008 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

In view of the fact that surprise and playing by different rules favor asymmetrical actors like Muslim states, how can it be anything but a dangerous and failing strategy to be reactive and defensive? How can anyone not seriously take into consideration the fact that preemption is the way to go when dealing with this kind of enemy?

1/11/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

Millennium Challenge 2002

1/11/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

fred: In view of the fact that surprise and playing by different rules favor asymmetrical actors like Muslim states, how can it be anything but a dangerous and failing strategy to be reactive and defensive? How can anyone not seriously take into consideration the fact that preemption is the way to go when dealing with this kind of enemy?

I wish this could be tattooed onto the forehead of every general and senator in America. Islam's affection for taqiyya makes preemption a flat-out necessity.

1/11/2008 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Here's what Russia's Pravda has to say about the Bush Mideast visit:

"Bush is willing to exercise his readiness to attack Iran. According to his own statements, the U.S. president views Iran as the country that may start the Third World War.

Bush also tries to ruin the unification of the Arab world, to separate Iran from the Arab world. It is not ruled out that the USA may eventually launch a military action against Iran. The new war may start as a result of provocative activities. U.S. special services may fabricate Bush’s assassination and accuse Iran of the attempted crime."

I like Pravda because it is slightly more pro-American than the NY Times...

1/12/2008 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

Mad Fiddler:

"I'm not going to speculate on whether we already have U.S. attack subs deployed in the Persian Gulf."

No need - we all know the USN's crocodile can lie motionless on the river bottom far longer than the other guy's warfighter can hold its breath. When the inevitable need to surface comes calling... advantage USN.

Three carrier battle groups in the vicinity means at least "X" crocodiles in attendence...

Iran might get in a couple of lucky shots, but that's all.

To use a football analogy, it'd be like GA Tech -vs- Cumberland... 222-0. One wonders why in the world the Persians would be stupid enough to even step onto the playing field.

1/12/2008 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger druu222 said...

Here's a little trick. It's wonderful to pull on someone.

When you get into one of those all-too-common discussions at work or dinner or wherever, ask your anti-Bush, anti-GOP ers to "Give me some history to back up your assertions, your world-view, etc, sometime when we have faced similar issues."

When they in turn do so, you reach into your pocket for a small scrap of paper on which you have written the two words "Vietnam / Watergate".

Because of course, that is always and ONLY the history that could possibly matter to such people. Out of 4,000 years of human civilization all over earth, there is simply NO history whatsoever that could possibly be of significance outside of their personal keyhole view of Vietnam and Watergate.

It's actually pretty funny to pull this, because it gives people who THINK they are very smart and sudden and disconcerting flash that they are not nearly as smart as they think they are, or capable of seeing what is so obviously a much larger picture than the world of their own PERSONAL immediate past.

Try it. It works every time, and is quite amusing, I assure you.

1/12/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I haven't seen it reported or commented on any place, but what are the chances that the Captain of the Navy ship(s) was in communication with lawyers in DC, and was awaiting their approval on whether or not to shoot the Iranian boats?

I'll bet you dollars to donuts that is what happened. Which leads me to a follow-up question on whether commanders there in the situation should make those decisions -- whether on the ground in Iraq, in the air in Afghanistan or on the water in the Straits of Hormus -- or whether they should have to call home to DC to get Condoleeza Rice's approval before they defend themselves.

Just shoot the SOB's, dammit!

1/12/2008 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Good trick, Druu222!

But wait, it was really nothing, I just found out over at HuffPo:

If the Iranian tape is accurate as to the routine verbal exchanges, then the Bush administration's release of the edited tape and dire warnings from the president and secretary of state needlessly hyped a threat for political purposes and further undermined American credibility in a crucial region.

Joe Cirincione, Center for American Progress, Tangled Tapes: Spliced Video Gives False View of Hormuz Incident

Besides, if the evil Americans weren't there, there wouldn't be any problems in the first place.

1/12/2008 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

In a wargame, the swarming boats "sank" carrier groups. Not by themselves, they were essentially distractions though a few did make suicide runs and destroy capital ships. It was missiles from the Iranian coast that destroyed Carrier groups. Missiles in hardened silos and positions that were highly resistant to US Naval missiles or aircraft sorties.

Very likely the Iranians will attempt to sink a few ships by swarming tactics designed to overload US Naval ability to track and fire on targets, relying on restrictive ROE and as Nahncee cogently speculated, lawyers making decisions.

I think it quite likely that Iran wants and needs to push the US out of the gulf and thinks of these tactics as just another truck bomb aimed at the US Embassy -- with no real possible comeback for them.

They might be right at that -- certainly after an attack Dems will side with Iran. Which might be long term electoral suicide but short term might protect Iran.

1/12/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...


I believe that you and the other anti-idiotarian commenters are missing the mark on the way the left keeps returning to Vietnam.

The left has bought into post-modernism lock, stock and barrel. There is a lot of silliness associated with post-modernism, but its central message is very powerful: he who has the power controls the narrative. The leftists have acted on the corollary of that PoMo axiom, namely that he who controls the narrative, will gain power. In Vietnam, they took control of the narrative and won.

Vietnam was their first and greatest victory. And much as American strategists before WWII had only the Civil War campaigns of Grant, Sherman, and Lee to use as templates for maneuver warfare, the Left will continue to turn to Vietnam as their one and only PoMo victory until they win another. They will analyze it and pick it apart until they find the "laws of PoMo warfare" that will enable them to win again. And this time, they have no intention on making the same mistake as they did in 1972-74 and let power slip from their hands at the height of their success.

We should daily praise the shade of Creighton Abrams, who IMHO has given us over thirty years to regroup and fight the PoMo, Gramscian Left. It is a pity that he died before he could really fully implement his plans.

1/12/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

As I write these words I am still very, very angry at the Left for having lied so much about the Vietnam War and what was at stake in that war. I was 18 years old in 1973 when the Paris Accords were concluded, which means I was old enough to remember most of the MSM's narrative from 1965 onward. Eventually, the youthful patriotism I inherited from my father was worn down by that "narrative" and I succumbed to a sense of discouragement over the cause. During my three year enlistment in the U.S. Army, from 1973-76, I met many veterans of that war and all of them were strangely quiet about their experiences there, so I never learned the true history of the military aspect of that war. It would be very many years later before I would find out the extent of the lying to which I was subjected - which we all were subjected to, by the Left and its liberal allies.

From 1977 until about 1987 I was a Leftist and mostly the quiet, studious kind, not the activist bullhorn blower. However, I could not help but notice the Post Modernist template and the repetition compulsion of so many on the Left in those days (and they still default to this crazy condition).

I have since learned the incredible extent of our military victory in the Vietnam War. And yet the truth is still not making the rounds. The Left controls the narrative. It may be a cheap victory for them, but I still resent what they did to us all, especially what they did to our military and its veterans. I doubt my anger will ever cool. And having been a Leftist for awhile, I know how low and shallow those people can be.

Post Modernism is indeed crap. And that is another thing I resent being subjected to when I was in college and grad school.

1/12/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

Thought provoking comment, Fred. I have been reading up on the Gulf of Tonkin incident lately, even before Wretchard's post. The PoMos have so clouded the facts with their "narrative" that it is almost impossible to determine the truth of what happened there. The testimony of all the actors down to the lowly sonarman have so parsed, dowdified, and clouded as to be useless. I am not sure without some heroic effort to gather as many of the survivors as possible and interview them directly, we can ever know what happened there now. As some smart English guy once said, "He who controls the past controls the future."

1/13/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Here's some video of little R2-D2 in action. The original meaning of "phalanx" as provided by Wikipedia is The phalanx (plural phalanxes or phalanges) is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or similar weapons. The troops were disciplined to hold a line which created a nearly impenetrable forest of points to the front.

Listen to the sound of it, more like a tractor-pull at redline than a gun sound, firing heavy-metal penetrators at 4,500 rpm, aimed by robot.

R2-D2 vs. Cigarette boats, you decide

Ps. I know the real topic of this is the "Blame America Forever" crowd's efforts to cause America to lose wars, ie., "another Vietnam" but R2-D2 is more interesting than those hateful creeps.

For 2008 I have given up trying to counter them with logic, history or truth because that's like trying to cure cancer with aspirin.

1/13/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

I got the opportunity of firing a one a few times. A very impressive weapons sytem. It had a significant weakness, though, many years ago when I played with it. It fired 3000 rounds per minute, but only had a 500 round magazine. And it took several hours to reload. The latest upgrade allows it to fire 50 round bursts, but that only accounts fr ten incoming boats.

I've got a dummy phalanx round that I use as a paperweight.

There's a new weapons system called "Metalstorm" which may soon provide an even more effective platform.

1/13/2008 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

I don't remember the name, but on FutureWeapons I saw a piece on a weapon system that was air deployed and distributed smart bomblets that would guide themselves in (within limits) and kill a vehicle with a jet from a shaped charge.

Sounds like it might be uasable on swarms.

In any case, they let the boats get too D@## close, the tripwire needs to be moved back about 800 feet.

1/14/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

CBU-97, AKA CBU-105

1/14/2008 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/14/2008 06:54:00 PM  

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