Thursday, May 08, 2008

Islands in the stream

Information Dissemination, the weblog of someone who describes himself as an "armchair admiral", looks at the the disposition US fleet units in Persian Gulf. Whether or not you believe there are going to be offensive operations against Iran, Information Dissemination has an interesting discussion of what naval objectives are important.

In particular any naval conflict with Iran, whether of a defense or offensive nature will require the capture of several Iranian held islands in the middle of the waterway in the Gulf of Hormuz. The islands, Siri, Abu Musa and the Tunb group "are arsenals on the deep water channel in and out of the Gulf, they will require Marines to secure in a war against Iran". The Tunbs, incidentally, are claimed by the UAE. Wikipedia writes:

In 1971, shortly before the end of the British protectorate and the formation of the UAE, Iran seized semi-control of Abu Musa under an agreement of joint administration together with Sharjah, with both sides nominally upholding their separate claims. A day later, on 30 November 1971, Iran forcibly seized control of the Tunb Islands, against the resistance of the tiny Arab police force stationed there. The Iranians were instructed not to open fire, and the first(and according to some sources only) shots came from the Arab resistance which killed 4 Iranian marines and injured one. According to some sources, the Arab civilian population of Greater Tunb was then deported, but according to others the island had already been uninhabited for some time earlier.

In the following decades, the issue remained a source of friction between the Arab states and Iran. The Gulf Co-operation Council of Arab litoral states repeatedly declared support for the UAE claims. Bilateral talks between the UAE and Iran in 1992 failed. The UAE have attempted to bring the dispute before the International Court of Justice, but Iran refuses to do so. Tehran says the islands always belonged to it as it had never renounced possession of the islands, and that they are an integral part of Iranian territory. The UAE argue that the islands were under the control of Qasimi sheikhs throughout the 19th century, whose rights were then inherited by the UAE after 1971. Iran counters by stating that the local Qasimi rulers during a crucial part of the 19th century where actually based on the Iranian, not the Arab, coast, and had thus become Persian subjects.

The maritime importance of Iran's island positions can easily be seen from this Wikipedia map, showing the island's position in relation to the sealanes.

Logically any naval confrontation with Iran would imply an amphibious operation to taking out these islands and the "armchair admiral" advises his readers to watch for the deployment of such forces when assessing the likelihood of conflict with Iran. Readers should bear in mind, however, that given the limited distances in the Gulf, a shore to shore operation might be conceivable.




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38 Comments:

Blogger Teresita said...

I took a look-see on Google Maps. Looks like there's a wall all the way around the island, as though it were fortified. Marines might have a tough time.

5/08/2008 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

They're not only positioning big boats strategically, but the drip-drip-drip of daily reports of the perfidy and dangerousness of Iran is also increasing. Interesting to see them listed in the article like that.

I would have thought the strike would come in November rather than in the summer, though.

5/08/2008 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Expect that if this comes to pass, Marines will also be in Bandar Abbas. My USMC unit wargamed taking it in 1981.

Can you IMAGINE how crazy the mullahs would get with Marines there? Talk about flypaper. They'd send everything they had after them. A target-rich environment for the carrier attack wings.

5/08/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

I met a Canadian fellow (who lives here in the U.S.) who told me that he knows the father of someone in the Navy Seals. According to him, the Seals in the Gulf are already equipped to use tactical, easily-portable nukes.

I don't know how true this is, but it does make some sense if they are training to carry out demolition operations against Iranian naval facilities.

5/08/2008 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I don't think there's going to be an offensive military operation against Iran. However, that doesn't mean there aren't contingency defensive scenarios.

One could imagine a situation where Iran threatens to block the Straits, using mines, the threat of missiles, etc. at a politically opportune time.

Even if Iran doesn't have the capability to do this, one or two threatening attacks would be enough to send insurance rates sky-high and push oil into the $200 a barrel range. It's like the "fleet in being" strategy the Germans used during the world wars. The US has to use up a lot of resources to guard against the possibility the Iranians might block up the Straits.

Recall the speedboat incident. Now imagine the speedboats were used to intimidate a slow, lumbering tanker and not a 35-knot destroyer with enough defensive armament to boggle the mind. That would be something to respond to.

But the defensive contingency makes more sense than any idea there is going to be an amphibious invasion of Iran.

5/08/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Meanwhile in Lebanon...
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Fierce clashes raged in Beirut on Thursday after the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah said the U.S.-supported Lebanese government had declared war by targeting its military communications network.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/9/worldupdates/2008-05-09T051335Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_-334818-2&sec=Worldupdates

The first step in a battle is to take out the enemies command and control (C&C) network.

Didn't ex-UN Ambassador John Bolton recently say we need to attack QODS camps in Iran where Iraqi jihadis are being trained?

Wars and rumors of wars. Iran has its nasty little fingers in many evil pies and the cickens are coming home to roost.

5/08/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger OregonGuy said...

Wretchard,

Great post. Great link.

Off-topic...would you please send me an e-mail address? I've tried your profile...even tigerhawks verizon address...but nothing seems to work.

You can reach me at kcys@gowebway.com.

Some questions on blogging.

Thanks.

.

5/08/2008 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

My guess is Iran wants war.

They've been using the Alexander Strategy, where he marched his Army to the river in India every day at noon for a fortnight, then on the fifteenth day, attacked.

The speedboat strategy in wargames sunk an entire Carrier Task force. Darting speedboats that went right up to the line of aggression kept the US forces on edge, losing focus, for several days and then suddenly attacked in a swarm, overwhelming tactical ability to handle them. The Iranians were wiped out but so was the Carrier Task force (nearly all sunk in minutes with the help of shore-based missiles).

I imagine that the experience of the past 30 years (US appeasement in the face of Acts of War by Iran, including the Embassy hostages, Beirut Embassy and Barracks bombings, Khobar Towers, etc) has led Iran's leaders to believe that if they did sink a Carrier Group the US would be forced to exit the Gulf and cede it to Iran, allowing it have Oil at $300 a barrel.

Obama's unconditional need to hug Ahmadinejad and his coronation by the US media also has them thinking it would be very easy and wise to attack.

Certainly Ahmadinejad has done everything in his power to provoke and attack US forces including killing our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan with impunity. Using actual Qods Force Iranian soldiers to do it, too.

Very likely the Iranians could sink a Carrier at least, and probably most of a task force. It would cost them, but they could do it.

What would Dems do? Offer an immediate surrender I think. They've got nothing else.

5/08/2008 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Teresita wrote, "I took a look-see on Google Maps. Looks like there's a wall all the way around the island, as though it were fortified. Marines might have a tough time."

It might be just a berm, Ter. It would keep out nosy pirates but US Marines would plow right over it. Sea forts were all the rage until the Cold War, but they haven't been useful since the Civil War.

5/08/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Rokke said...

The article at the link you reference is such a collection of bogus sources and stretched logic it is worthy of no more consideration than the silly 9/11 conspiracy theories based on similar contortions of twisted fact and assumptions.
As long as people are referencing Google Earth, they might want to take a look at Iran's geographic location and consider the viability of stationing Carrier Battle Groups within the confined area of the Persian Gulf to stage an attack on Iran.
Unless we plan on sacrificing a number of our major surface combatants (to include possibly a carrier) to justify an attack on Iran, staging strikes on Iran from fleets confined to the cramped waters of the Persian Gulf would be similar to launching an armored assault by driving our tanks within easy striking range of the enemy’s weapons and then miring them in deep mud.
Assuming we could somehow maintain access through the Straits of Hormuz (not a good assumption considering Iran's ability to seed the Gulf with mines and attack seaborne targets with a variety of land based weapons), we would then need to avoid a barrage coming from a credible air force, cruise missile force, submarine force, mines, small surface combatants and even shore based artillery. Considering that in the first Gulf War, Iraq was able to significantly impact our maritime activities with their extremely limited access to the Persian Gulf, Iran will likely have a field day making huge headlines by wreaking havoc on our Navy. One only needs to recall the relative success of the Argentinean Air Force (flying hundreds of miles to attack the British Royal Navy) during the Falklands War to imagine the possibilities presented to an Iranian military operating from well defended bases facing a naval fleet operating in its own backyard and constrained within the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf.
We currently occupy nations located along long stretches of Iran's eastern and western borders. We have unlimited access to multiple airfields in the region and can launch cruise missile strikes from nearly any direction toward Iran. We operate extremely long range weapons systems whose specific role is to stealthily penetrate enemy air defense systems and take out well protected strategic targets. None of those systems currently operate off the deck of a carrier.
If we decide to strike Iran, we will be successful. However, that strike won’t originate from Carrier Battle Groups operating in the Persian Gulf. No matter how many assumptions folks like the “armchair admiral” have to create to make such an idea seem credible.

5/08/2008 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I agree Rokke. Likely the Carrier groups will linger safely out of Iran's reach, ready to provide support for a strike in case Iran DOES attack.

A Carrier group might also be "bait" in that one might sail through the Straits, and Iran might (or might not) attack it. They'd probably be able to sink the Carrier group if they wanted to. Not without cost, but it has been wargamed (by the US).

In that situation, having a carrier group outside the Gulf but nearby would be handy.

5/09/2008 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/09/2008 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Readers who were born before 1975 or so will recall that during its 8-year war with Iraq, the Iranian revolutionary regime made military attacks on international oil shipping in the Persian Gulf. One response by the U.S. was to allow non-U.S.-flagged ships protection under U.S. Naval convoy protection.

A look at Google Earth shows that the Island of Abu Musa, which is smack in the middle of the gulf, just west of the Tangeh-ye Hormoz, the narrow passage between Iran's Qushm Island and the northernmost tip of Dubai's jutting peninsula.

The Island's 12 square kilometers are sufficient to support a landing strip close to 1000 meters in length, hangars, fuel storage, warehouses, and various structures all over the island.

Iran has long based various sorts of anti-ship missile batteries along this island's coasts, and you can see earth-covered bunkers --- presumably for weapons storage --- revetments for anti-aircraft batteries, and all sorts of squarish pill-box-sorts of structures placed adjacent to beaches, some arranged apparently for optimal fields of fire. There seem also to be extended sections of light fencing, and observation towers & posts.

A central hill, Jabal Halwa, possibly 70 - 80 meters has numerous entrances to dug-outs at its base.

A Jetty, and protected anchorage suitable for small vessels sits on the western end of the island, near one end of the runway. The Google photograph shows a gaggle of dingies, nine or ten vessels under 5 meters, one 7 or 8 meters in length. There's room for lots more.

What I find most intriguing is the patches of little neighborhoods, looking just like the housing for military families I grew up in. Looks like there are homes for several hundred in single-family or duplex structures. Not many vehicles visible, just enough to confirm that many of the asphalt roads are wide enough for two-way traffic, which by itself implies substantially more traffic than would be served by a single lane road. I wonder if there's a desalinization plant.

"Lessr Tunb" A smaller island to the North and closer to Iran's southern coast, and Sirri Island each have runways. It's hard to imagine that Iran would be able to effectively defend them, but the Japanese defenders of the Pacific Islands showed that's a dangerous speculation.

Iran has bought a number of Russian submarines, and some new Italian-made subs, all conventionally powered, but some described as "super-quiet." They could be troublesome.

The big question in my mind is whether our military have the freedom and wit to defend themselves, or are they hobbled by absurd rules of engagement that essentially mean the first serious Iranian attack will be a sacrifice useful mainly for enraging the U.S. population enough to finally respond to decades of provocation.

I suspect a strategy would be first to deny the use of those Islands to Iran by smashing them, then possibly use them as un-sinkable "carriers" since they are already clearly useful as airfields.

I agree with Rokke that any carrier group is going to be unjustifiably vulnerable hemmed in by the washtub sized Persian Gulf.

But U.S. surface ships will have to be placed in harm's way to defend international shipping as long as the crazy Mullahs are ready to lob missiles at the tankers.

5/09/2008 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger amr said...

I wonder what the Iranian's learned from their defeat during the mostly forgotten 1988 Tanker war with us.

5/09/2008 02:08:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

I think Iran had a region wide terror offensive planned for this summer. Together with Syria there would be a grab for control in Lebanon and a "terror" war with Israel on three fronts. Iraq would see a general uprising by the Shiite. Terror attacks on the low seas of the Persian gulf. Terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But central to the strategy was an uprising in Iraq. But the uprising came early and against Iran by the Shiite (and everyone else) in Iraq. Ditto Lebanon, where even the Shiite may dislike Iran/Syrian meddling.

The Iranian terror gun is misfiring. Can we force it to Jam? We are apparently gathering the forces to jam it, if need be. You blow up the region. We blow up Iran.

5/09/2008 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

I wonder what the Iranian's learned from their defeat during the mostly forgotten 1988 Tanker war with us.

That an AEGIS cruiser can take down a commercial jet airplane much faster than four guys with boxcutters?

5/09/2008 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I would think that a amphibious invasion of these islands would resemble the invasions of Pantelleria in 1943 or mainland Japan in 1945. You drive up there in a ship and step off, being extra careful to not trip over your rifle - or perhaps take the steps required to avoid getting bitten by a mule.

If there ever was a target for multiple MOABs, this be it.

5/09/2008 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Kat, were you aware that the USS Vincennes was actually busy firing 5 inch against attacking Iranian Boghammer II patrol boats when that Airbus strayed into the combat zone? Try to put yourself into the mind of the bridge crew.

5/09/2008 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

Restoring a few small islands to UAE could not be considered an invasion of Iran. And if the UAE was so grateful that it allowed US forces to defend the islands for it, well, that is only to be expected.

Iran declared war on the US in 1979, and has re-declared war constantly ever since.

Perhaps it is time for the US to pick away more deeply at Iran's periphery, where it hurts.

5/09/2008 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger section9 said...

Rokke is, of course, dead on. The last thing we would do is initiate an attack on Iran with major carriers in the Gulf. They'd have to run the gauntlet of the Strait of Hormuz to actually get out-fish food for Silkworms, imho.

Carrier Battle Groups will operated in the Arabian Sea, under their own CAG umbrella and under the B-52 and B-1 CAP that operates out of Diego Garcia. The only issue will be for the jeep carriers and the MEF's that have to go in and get all Peileilieu on those islands.

They will, in all probability, be heavily defended by garrison troops armed with standoff missiles. A tough nut for any amphibious force.

Nothing upcoming, by the way. Right now, the big news is in the Mediterranean. The Hez is on the move and have overrun Sunni neighborhoods in West Beirut.

The pieces are beginning to move.

5/09/2008 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Galrahn said...

"Rokke is, of course, dead on. The last thing we would do is initiate an attack on Iran with major carriers in the Gulf."

He is correct in that analysis.

However did he read what I wrote? I'm noting preparation and observing one of several tactical obstacles with the islands which do require specific platforms to overcome. A Marine assault in the 21st century has little in common with a WWII assault though, maneuver has changed the game. Rokke is implying preparation of carrier forces for availability defines intent, and further implies I'm suggesting the carrier fleet will sail to the Persian Gulf and start a war. I think intent is difficult to gauge and if the carrier fleet sails in mass, it would be after war broke out. I would not expect to see anything other than the usual rotations of naval forces prior to hostilities against Iran.

The US will operate in the Gulf during a war should it occur though, dangerous or not. Most likely not with carrier forces, but indeed surface forces will be required to keep sea lines of communication open for commercial traffic, and if the US brings disruption there, the adage 'you break it, you fix it' applies. We can think back to the USS Vincennes incident and mock, but in a shooting war in those waters, the AEGIS system on US Naval forces means life or death for many mariners.

The conversation did not address ABOT and KAAOT, the most difficult defense challenge in the region during hostilities. Against land based, truck mounted, short range sub sonic missiles like the C701s, warships protecting the Iraqi oil terminals have 35 seconds to react. The problem is even without remote guidance systems, the built in radar homing systems will find the big targets, which are either tankers or terminals. Very dangerous.

Wretchard thanks for the link!

5/09/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So, then, the consensus among peacenik scaredy-cats is that the U.S. is moving a whole bunch of really big boats in to better intimidate Somali pirates since we evidently do not want to fire even a flare in anger.

5/09/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

I'm sorry, I can't resist
global warming will take care of this

5/09/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

I don't think the armchair admiral is seeing things clearly. The buildup of carrier groups near Iran and in the eastern Med has been happening gradually for 2-3 years. I don't see any real increase in belligerent statements from either the US or Iran.

I don't believe that an unpopular Pres Bush has the political strength to carry out a blue-sky attack against Iran. In order for that to happen we'd need a run up similar to the run up to the attack on Iraq (public statements, speeches to Congress and the UN, etc.). Not only haven't we seen anything like that but there isn't time for such a thing before the elections.

I don't believe that either side wants a war any time soon for different reasons. The Iranians would take a huge beating, possibly up to and including the removal from power of the rulers. I'm sure it hasn't escaped their notice that Saddam is six feet under and was hung by Iraqi citizens. Mullah Omar isn't doing too well either.

The Iranians have always confronted the US with proxies and deniable actions. We can debate whether they've succeeded in Iraq but they have managed to fight the US without an attack on their homeland. I'm sure they consider that a good thing. Also, why would they start a war before they have the bomb?

For Bush an unprovoked attack on Iran would likely have bad consequences for the election. It would put McCain in a very difficult position. An unprovoked attack on Iran would be unpopular. Would McCain be for it or against it? If for it he takes an unpopular position. If against it he would go against the right-wing of his party. It's lose-lose for McCain and I assume that Bush wants McCain to win.

The only thing that would change this would be a major provocation from Iran. Who shoots first is very important in US domestic opinion as well as world opinion. The Iranians could be hoping for some kind of October surprise that would embarrass the US, perhaps skewing the election in their favor (whatever they think in their favor means), or perhaps accelerating a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. I think that their objective would be to humiliate the US, not to start a shooting war. However, any kind of brinksmanship could lead to a shooting war. Of course if the Iranians think that Bush's hands are tied they may become more belligerent.

One can imaging a Gulf of Tonkin event scripted by the white house but I doubt that Bush is capable of this. I heard on the radio yesterday that there is an exodus of white house personnel already starting. It isn't the right time to be running international intrigues when the best and brightest are heading to those high-paying jobs in the private sector.

Regarding those islands in the straits of Hormuz, ho hum. On D-Day-Iran, if it comes, there will be some serious shock and awe. Whatever happens on those islands will not be the big news. I also really doubt that US forces would try to take those islands before the main event gets going.

5/09/2008 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger DRC said...

The ME would be further along given time if the present Iranian leaders were eliminated.
I have yet to think of what scenerio is possible that would allow time for cooler heads to prevail. A scenerio that would avert military confrontation.
Life events can often and quickly influence and change long held beliefs. But I suspect that only happens in Hollywood.
I do not think that Iran wishes to engage us in a military struggle, but it may be all that is left.
Recent history demostrates the we/
Americans will not tolerate nor have the stomach for long-drawn out wars,
So in the end, it will take thousands if not millions of civilians casualties before we finished them. It would no be pretty.
Nothing that I see in the horizon at this moment gives me any hope of a peaceful solution.
So as other have said, why wait and face larger casualties and environmental long term death.
But maybe Hollywood will provide their magic.

5/09/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

Nahn, not quite right. We should not want to intimidate the pirates either as they may attempt litigation as currently against the French.

Ut pkwy, bear in mind that according to sources in the know the 12thIm has returned and we all know that his job is to spread chaos.

5/09/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

OMa, Somebody please check to see if Mr. Limbaugh just climbed out of a well!

5/09/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Darren Duvall said...

Does anyone know if the US has anything Aegis-class in the waters near ABOT and KAAOT? Or a PAC-3 battery nearby?

These things are not proof against attack, but given technical limitations they are probably the defense of choice if the Silkworms start flying.

I wouldn't expect any carriers to try to transit the Strait of Hormuz during a battle. Destroyers and cruisers, maybe, but you would think if the US was planning a first-strike there would be elements already in the Gulf and some outside.

The Marines have the MV-22 in-theater (operational in Iraq), and IIRC the only benefit of dug-in fortifications at this point in history is to give the mission planners for the B-52s and B-1s a checklist for delivery of one-ton JDAMs.

The easiest way to trigger a fight if a trigger was sought would be for the UAE to get shot at and then ask for US "help". The US starts with the islands closest to the UAE, then sends a ship or two into the Strait. If we get shot at, particularly from Iran, then it's plausibly "defensive" to take out every air-defense and sea-defense capability the Iranians have around the Strait of Hormuz.

The US would bomb things in Iraq during Northern Watch and Southern Watch, without a declaration from Congress. That was considered "defensive", this would likely be a lot more than that but I would doubt the Congress could object to the US Navy defending itself from attack. At least, not effectively and within the 48-72 hours that would be needed to wreck equipment and put the Iranian defensive plans back a decade or three.

I do not believe the US has anything to gain in a unilateral strike on Iran. As has been stated by others, Persian nationalism is a potent force and welding that to the mullahs seems to be a bad idea. We will be well into the losing side of any exchange the second a US or Israeli bomb comes off a rack over Iran.

In an extreme situation, why not just EMP the place? Uranium centrifuges don't spin without power, and it would seem to be somewhat easier to block them getting replacement electronics and power transformers than to bunker-bust Natanz.

5/09/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

darren duvall: In an extreme situation, why not just EMP the place? Uranium centrifuges don't spin without power, and it would seem to be somewhat easier to block them getting replacement electronics and power transformers than to bunker-bust Natanz.

It is possible to short out substations and transmission lines with a low-tech alternative to EMP, called "long strips of aluminum foil", seeded by unmanned drones. It has the added benefit of not pissing off the UN Security Council and probably bringing economic sanctions down on the US.

5/09/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Darren Duvall said...

Apparently they use carbon filaments now, it's the CBU-94/BLU-114/B:

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/blu-114.htm

It would take an inordinate amount of those to blanket the country, and that wouldn't account for buried power lines.

The problem as I see it is that an EMP attack would hurt the US far more than it would Iran, and for the US to say that it wasn't a nuclear first-strike because the bomb exploded in space 300-400 miles above Iran is essentially inviting anyone to do the same to us and say, "Well, it wasn't a real nuclear attack".

There have been experiments to use electrical fields generated by a conventional explosive to make an EMP-like effect, but I'm not aware of those being actually weaponized, and I doubt they have the area of effect of a real nuke.

5/09/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Section9 said....

"They will, in all probability, be heavily defended by garrison troops armed with standoff missiles. A tough nut for any amphibious force."

I wonder how many Arc Light strikes it would take before those garrisons are toast, and a company of Girl Scouts could take those islands.

5/09/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

"I wonder what the Iranian's learned from their defeat during the mostly forgotten 1988 Tanker war with us."

1. Construct a mixed bag of fixed and mobile anti-ship missiles scattered across every scrap of coastline and island within Iranian control. At the same time, buy or manufacture and then stage thousands of mines the same way.

The Iranians know that U.S. air power and standoff weaponry can make short work of their fixed military forces and infrastructure. But they have been building hardened coastline ASM sites literally non-stop since the seventies. They don't need to sink U.S. surface elements, even though they'd like to. It is sufficient for their purpose they make the Straights impassable for a few weeks at a time. There are too many shoreline bunkers and caves stuffed with speedboats carrying mines or with (or without) missiles on launchers.

When I look at Google Earth, I see interlocking areas of responsibility with a built in degree of operational flexibility usually seen only in video games. I fully expect that the Iranians have used their Chinese contacts to hard-wire a lot of this coastline infrastructure with fiberoptic, backed up with redundant cell links... which are just icing, since the obvious default strategy for units cut off from Iranian central command will be to make the Straights impassable. Don't need comms for that.

2. Don't attack U.S. interests without plausible deniability unless there's a Democrat administration. But everybody already knows that one.

5/09/2008 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Rokke said...

galrahn, I did read what you wrote. A few times. I guess my confusion stems from trying to connect your suggestions regarding what you see as building momentum in the Bush administration for an attack on Iran with the information you provided regarding fleet movements.
It appeared to me that you were implying the carrier battle groups were being conveniently scheduled for possible action against Iran in September. Since basing them outside of the Persian Gulf would place them farther away from the battlefield than airfields we already operate from, I assumed you expected them to operate within the Persian Gulf.
While I do agree that the islands in the Straits of Hormuz are a tactical obstacle with respect to major military operations in the Persian Gulf, it really makes no sense to use several (or even one) CBG to neutralize that threat. Based on the small geographic area of the Straits of Hormuz, we'd gain nothing by trying to establish a military presence on any of those islands. Simply removing the Iranian presence would be sufficient, and turning them into uninhabitable chunks of rubble would be the best way to do that. Our biggest air base in the Middle East is just 150 miles away, and Diego Garcia is also loaded with aircraft waiting for an opportunity to pulverize Iranians dug in on what are essentially stationary bullseyes in the Straits. Positioning several CBG’s in range to do a job we are already capable of doing now wouldn’t make sense. Neither would planning an amphibious landing on islands that would serve no purpose to us once Iranian forces were removed from them.
Therefore, unless the plan is to operate the several available CBG's within the Persian Gulf, I don’t consider it relevant to connect their availability with the rumored building momentum within the Bush administration to strike Iran.
Having said that…maybe I’m still missing your point in your article.

5/09/2008 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

By the way, my money is still on a U.S. deep strike executed after the election. The objective will be aimed at destroying Iran's ability to enrich uranium, possibly including a ground insertion(s) aimed at gathering site intelligence to refine /validate our intelligence estimates.

Nuclear terrorism is the next big thing. Bush has one more adult job to do before leaving office.

If he doesn't do it, the Israelis will use what tools they have available to achieve the same objective.

5/09/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Darren Duvall said...

If you can get people in on the ground, destroying a working cascade in place is a great way to make a Superfund site. UF6 gas is reported to be exceptionally toxic.

The dirtier issue is that it's not enough to destroy the stuff, you need to get rid of the people who know how to rebuild the stuff. Ugly, but true nonetheless. Blowing up the centrifuges will put them back a few years. Remove the engineers who know how to build and tune them and they're back a whole lot more.

Then again, a nuclear bomb is a 64 year-old science project. It's not simple, but compared to generating your own modern semiconductor plant without much in the way of outside help it would seem to be less challenging.

5/09/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

"...destroying a working cascade in place is a great way to make a Superfund site.."

Destroying anything with a < 10KT yield enhanced fallout nuke just about guarantees that, yes. There is not much return in attacking the infrastructure if it can be easily restored by merely writing checks.

Which is exactly why it is in our best interest to see that Israel isn't forced to act unilaterally.

The civilized world has watched for years as Islam suited up for the first nuclear terror strike. Everybody knows what ends the Iranians intend. Everyone knows who the first target will be. The U.N. (emphatically NOT representative as a subset of the civilized world)has stood by across the decades as a corrupt, silent witness to multiple genocides and has long defined zionism as equal to terrorism... so the only world body that might have stature in mediating the crisis is worse than a disinterested spectator.

There are no easy answers here, just clear ones.

5/09/2008 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

"Nuclear terrorism is the next big thing."

"The civilized world has watched for years as Islam suited up for the first nuclear terror strike."

From a strategic rather than tactical point of view Norman Podhoretz has it right - we are now engaged in World War IV, and it will be a long war; and it will likely become a nuclear/biotech war.

If you look at the way things unraveled in World War I and World War II you'll notice that things went much worse than everyone expected. If you count Korea and Vietnam as parts of World War III, i.e.: the Cold War, the same can be said of it as well. I believe a much worse than expected outcome could also occur in this war - but I'd like to be proven wrong.

The only way to a better outcome is for liberty-loving nations to fight on their own terms, not the terms of the totalitarian liberty-haters – we must take the initiative and keep our enemies confused and off-balance. In order to avoid a world-wide catastrophe as seen in World War II, we'll eventually have to decisively wage and win World War IV with all the courage and creativity of Stonewall Jackson, Raymond Spruance, Dwight Eisenhower and William Casey. We should not allow our enemies to gain sufficient strength to turn the tables – to become an existential threat to our liberty like Nazi Germany – better to nip them in the bud even if the cost is high. The cost will be much higher if we fail to take the initiative.

The price of liberty is the struggle for liberty - and better to die than to live without it.

5/09/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

The Iranians and their proxies in Lebanon have been busy these past few days. Exactly how it will play out there isn't clear.

This blog is written by M14 supporters in Lebanon and this is what they have to think about Obama's recent remarks on the situation there.

5/09/2008 08:55:00 PM  

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