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The Navy and the Iranians
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ralph Peters thinks the Navy lost its nerve:
EARLY Sunday morning, the US Navy lost its nerve and guaranteed that American sailors will die at Iranian hands in the future.

As three of our warships passed through the Straits of Hormuz, five small Iranian patrol craft rushed them. As the Revolutionary Guard boats neared our vessels, an Iranian officer broadcast a threat to our ships, claiming they'd soon explode.

The Iranians tossed boxes into the water. Mines? Just in case, our ships took evasive action.

The Iranians kept on coming, closing to a distance of 200 meters - about two football fields. Supposedly, our Navy was ready to open fire but didn't shoot because the Iranians turned away at the moment the order was given.

We should've sunk every one of them.

Not because we're warmongers. But because the Iranians had made threats, verbal and physical, that amounted to acts of war. When will we learn that resolute action taken early saves vast amounts of blood and treasure later?
This incident has me a bit puzzled for a number of reasons. I can't figure out why a Navy skipper would let any hostile craft within 200 meters of his ship. That seems to me unacceptably close. So in that regard, I agree with Peters - we should have engaged that one.

Of course, the possibility exists that the Iranian craft reached some arbitrary limit which our sailors on the scene had drawn as the "do not cross" line and they didn't quite cross it. We'll never know and I'm afraid I can't, from this distance, somehow make the pronouncement that our Navy lost its "nerve" because it didn't engage the Iranian boats.

However, this was clearly both an Iranian provocation and a probe. Probes happen all the time, although usually much less overtly. It is all a part of learning the patterns and behavior of your enemy. How does he react when on small boat approaches? Three? Etc.

But the radio traffic and threats are a little over the top, which again, given the threat of blowing us up, makes 200 meters seem awful close. However, I don't want to second guess those on the scene because there may have been extenuating and mitigating circumstances.

Peters says:
Oh, from Washington's perspective we did the right thing by "exercising restraint." But Washington's perspective doesn't amount to a gum wrapper in a gutter. What matters is what the Iranians think.
On his point about the importance of what the Iranians think, I agree.

However, since, thankfully, nothing happened in this incident, I think it is fair to warn Iran that should there be a repeat of this incident and their craft aggressively move within x number of meters of a US Navy vessel in international waters, they will be engaged and sunk.

And then, if they violate that space we'll really be able to hear what the Iranians think.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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Well if they were Boghammers, then they weren’t much of a threat. 200 metres isn’t that bad, had they been REAL warships, which Iran doesn’t possess-since 1988, or Missile Attack boats 200 metres would have been problematic. But runabouts armed with 12.7 mm HMG’s and RPG’s are not much of a threat, and they probably aren’t effective at much longer ranges, so when they closed to 200 metres that’s when it got tense. Further, I’d imagine that the US wanted them to get closer once they had closed to 1,000 metres or less, as the Navy’s Close-In Weapon System (to be distinguished from the Missile Defense System of the CIWS 20mm auto cannon, itself being replaced by the RAM missile, which would NOT be effective against a small boat) in this case if the Browning 12.7 X 99 HMG, on an UNSTABILIZED mount-the Navy is just introducing a stabilized 25mm mount. So really neither side was armed for a long-range engagement. I’d argue that closing to 200 metres WAS a critical distance, further away and the Navy probably really wouldn’t worry very much as the Iranians weren’t likely to be much of a threat, with unstabilized infantry weapons, moving at 40-50 kilometres per hour, in a sea chop. And it’s unlikely that simply detonating a bomb, on one of the boats was going to do much damage at 200 metres or further away, so again the Iranians were THREATENING, but not necessarily a threat.

Finally thank God the Navy didn’t shoot and didn’t listen to Peters. This "provocation" is just designed to spark a conflict and drive up oil prices. Never play your opponent’s game, if at all possible.

I hate to sound like Doc Erb, but there is a time and place for shooting, and it’s mostly at practice ranges, and very, very seldom a good idea to use your firepower in the Real World.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Oh, from Washington’s perspective we did the right thing by "exercising restraint." But Washington’s perspective doesn’t amount to a gum wrapper in a gutter. What matters is what the Iranians think.
I heard this argument early on in Iraq. Now it turns out that exercising restraint and doing our best to be just and fair may have won the war for us. It had a similar effect during the Cold War as well.

I’d prefer that no one gets hurt on either side. If we sink their boats, then Iran gets some American "aggression" they can rally the troops around. Sure it would be a lie, but so what? And they need to do some rallying because the Iranian Military has had its nose bloodied in Southern Iraq. I would think that the proper response would probably some sort of warning shot, hopefully from something pretty big that shows we’re serious. Isn’t the 5-incher on our destroyers still around just to deliver impressive warning shots?
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
I might further point out that Iranians are cold this winter. The natural gas, which Iran has abundant supplies of, comes from Turkmenistan, and because of Iran’s poor production and distribution network, the gas isn’t flowing as it has in the past. Further, Iran is no longer shipping gas to Turkey, to try to make up the domestic short-fall. So we have cold, angry Iranians and an Iran that has lost foreign exchange for modernization. The Pasdaran would LOVE to provoke an incident, to take the focus off the miserable domestic situation.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
These boats could have been laden with explosives. No one wants a shooting war but a Commander has a duty to protect his ship and crew. I would inform the Iranians that in the future any ship or boat that closes within one thousand yards will be sunk.
 
Written By: dan in michigan
URL: http://
These boats could have been laden with explosives. No one wants a shooting war but a Commander has a duty to protect his ship and crew. I would inform the Iranians that in the future any ship or boat that closes within one thousand yards will be sunk.

A Boghammer laden with explosives, detonating at 200 metres isn’t likely to do much...it’s a Boston Whaler made overseas, for Heaven’s sakes! The Cole was HIT by it’s suicide boat, it just didn’t "blow up" near the Cole. And in the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz, 1000 metres is a big zone....it’s a crowded piece of water. You want to start a shooting mini-war feel free but is it really a good idea?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I am more in agreement with Joe on this. I also think that due to the current political climate, we have to make sure our side of the story is told, and part of that is to let a few incidents fly by, but get reported, so that when this is done again, people understand it wasn’t some evil American cowboy trick.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
With a nuclear Iran, is 200m really safe? How far does a ship have to be from a nuclear bomb to be safe? A dirty bomb? A nuclear mine?

In my guess, this probe was deliberately to see what they could get away with in combination with nuclear weapons.

Sorry, I say we should have sunk any craft that entered that 200m for sure and then sunk all the boats once that threat was broadcast.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
With a nuclear Iran, is 200m really safe? How far does a ship have to be from a nuclear bomb to be safe? A dirty bomb? A nuclear mine?
Well then you’d better extend that Total Exclusion Zone to Kilometres, not just 1 kilometre. And if I were the Iranians I doubt I’d be sending my first Nuclear Weapon out to attack three US Navy warships. Blowing one off under the desert and then deploying the IRBM’s would be a much better use of them, don’t you think?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Actually I don’t.

We have good anti-missle systems for our military. And after the Israeli raid on Syria, Iran is probably questioning how good its military systems actually are. Israel has anti-missle system for their military and their populous.

What we don’t have is the balls to blow up little ships like this. Using them as delivery systems seems like an option to me.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
What we don’t have is the balls to blow up little ships like this.

What we don’t have is the need to blow up little ships like this. If you have some balls-inferiority complex, buy your own private boat, arm it up, and shoot your wad, you nuke-paranoid little hawk prick.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
What we don’t have is the need to blow up little ships like this.
Uh dude if you had just left it here you’d be ever so much better. You’re right we have no NEED, this doesn’t have to become some kind of slang match...I am in favour of the use military force, quite often, does that make me a Right Wing Death Beast with a balls inferiority complex? Careful how you answer that, because the wrong answer costs you an ally...so here’s the deal, some one can advocate the WRONG policy, without being EVIL. Just a little tip from an older head.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, there’s a reason why I’ve never called you what I’ve called jpm. Your comments in this thread and others indicate that whatever you are, you are not a paranoid hawk.

I never brought the terms Right Wing or EVIL into the conversation. Empty, foolish bravado without regard to political fallout is not exclusive to the Right by any means. Regardless of how he identifies himself politically, JPM’s comments about nuclear weapons and a lack of USN balls are asinine. If I ever said anything so stupid, I would hope that somebody (older heads?) would let me know in no uncertain terms.

I do appreciate your suggestion that I could have left it off at the first sentence. Your point was neither resented nor lost on me, though I don’t agree in this specific case.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
"What we don’t have is the balls to blow up little ships like this."

Speak for yourself. I just checked, and mine are still there. One problem with blowing up little ships like that is that they have bigger brothers that may want to get even. And those wonderful anti-missile systems aren’t perfect, especially in narrow waters where you don’t get much warning and there may be a lot of background clutter.

As the old saying goes, ’discretion is the better part of valor’.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Oh, we have the balls. But Wulf is right. Its much better to pick the fight than react to provocation. If we have to fire on Iranian warships, I would much rather do it while destroying their entire naval force, air force and missile force. Reacting to a Boghammer just gives them the propaganda victory. Even though I don’t like the Iranians, it DID TAKE BALLS to bring threaten a USN warship with a Boghammer. Those speedboat drivers earned their bragging rights at the next goat orgy.

 
Written By: Cargosquid
URL: http://unitedconservatives.blogspot.com/
In the 1960s the most powerful despot on earth was the captain of a US Navy warship. He had a mission to accomplish and high degree of autonomy.

Today, with satellite communication links, the captain is a little more than an OOD (Officer of the Deck). I’ll bet all the decisions were being made in the Pentagon.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
I think the reason they didn’t fire was due to the "peace time/war time" officer issue the Army has/had.

This guy sure wasn’t a Lt Cmdr Evans...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I think the reason they didn’t fire was due to the "peace time/war time" officer issue the Army has/had.

This guy sure wasn’t a Lt Cmdr Evans...
Uh I wonder, why it is the Navy was SUPPOSED to fire, tell me again? Speed boats approach, do no damage, fire no rounds, but the USN was SUPPOSED to "blast" those wascally-Iwanians? I’m just confused about this....

And of curse Lt. Cmdr Evans had the advantage, he KNEW that Kurita’s force was going to start shooting at him and in fact it did...let’s put the shoe on the other foot, in international waters, IN PEACETIME, Kurita’s force shows up...is Lt Cmdr Evans a hero if he starts blazing away at the Imperial Japanese Navy?

When you see that suspicious person on the street, at night, is he casing your house or just a lost pizza delivery boy, at what point do you claim the right to blaze away at suspicious strangers in areas where they have a PERFECT LEGAL RIGHT TO BE?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Wulf,

Iran funds and supplies the ’insurgency’ in Iraq. They supply the component that build the roadside bombs that kill US troops. Syria, their proxy, is the gateway from support for the Sunni side of the insurgency. We’ve captured Iranians helping insurgents in Iraq. They fund the terrorism of Hezbullah which is 2nd only to Al Queda in killing Americans.

All thinks keeping on track, Iran will have a nuke soon with more to come, years not decades.

A nuclear armed Iran will become bolder, not more peaceful. Iran’s hostility toward US forces, emboldened by a false security of a nuclear arsenal will likely lead to us getting into more military conflict with Iran, not less.

They don’t have a delivery system worth a crap against our military.

But neither did Al Queda when they attacked the Cole. Remember the Cole?

Once Iran obtains the bomb, what the military tolerates as permissible in the way of such confrontations needs to be grossly redefined.

The only arguable point in the above is whether you believe a nuclear armed Iran will become more or less peaceful. The only thing we have to judge that would be opinion. In such situations you hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

==========

BTW, the "we" in my balls comment has almost nothing to do with the Navy and absolutely nothing to do with the men on that ship. Rules of Engagement come from far above their level and above the Navy itself as well. So go f*ck yourself with your attempt to mix "he insulted the troops" with your criticisms.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
And JPM100 all those things you wrote are true BUT, please tell me how sinking two or three Boghammers makes Iran quit supporting the insurgents or makes it give up its nuclear program or makes it more peaceful? The Iranians did NOT attack the USN, but the USN was supposed to shoot at them becuse of all the things you’ve listed? I don’t see any connection to what you’ve written to what you recommend.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
A good point Joe, but have about this as a betteer example:

You see a guy across the street. This guy hasn’t done anything to you himself for YEARS. You don’t really talk any more, but hey, that happens. You do know, for a fact, that he’s been giving guns to people who have been shooting at your friends for a couple of years, and has even paid people to go turn a few businesses run by a buddy of yours.

Now he’s running straight at your door with a crazed look in his eye.

About the point when he’s coming up the steps of the front porch, it’s possible you might want to shut the damn door.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
About the point when he’s coming up the steps of the front porch, it’s possible you might want to shut the damn door.

Sure, Shut the Door, not SHOOT the Doer!

In this case, though he’s not on your property, he’s running AT your property...and he has a bag in his hand...bomb, prize for Mom, pizza...who knows? But he’s in a legal public area, behaving as a putz, kind of like skate boarders, am I allowed to shoot them too? Mind you if your legal theory allows for this I might well change my mind and subscribe to it, just because I don’t like skate boarders.

Look the SCOTUS has a nice phrase, "the totality of the circumstances as viewed thru a trained eye..."I have no kick if the USN blasts the boghammers at 200 metres or 100 metres but it’s hard to justify it on the basis of JPM’s arguments. Now, IF the Navy observed the Boghammers out maneuvering SIGNIFICANTLY slower than normal, i.e. were heavily encumbered, or at least one was and the others were "flying escort" AND THEN the whole lot turned towards the convoy, I wouldn’t blame the navy for firing at 1,000 metres...fearing that one vessel was a "Shinyo" "tokko" attack craft carrying a 450 kilo aircraft bomb. Naval officers, on the spot, have to make that call. I’m just saying that I think the Naval officers made the right call this time. The speed boats represented no real threat, UNTIL they got within 200 metres and then the USN prepared to engage them, THIS time the Iranians broke away.

Many people seem to feel that the USN ought to have destroyed the vessels, long before and I just don’t see that as justified....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I’m sure the men on the USS Cole thought that little boat coming along side was just as safe as could be.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I’m sure the men on the USS Cole thought that little boat coming along side was just as safe as could be.
They did, they thought it was a lighter from the Port Authority


This is ENTIRELY different...these are the warships of a hostile power, HOWEVER it is a hostile power we are not at war with and their "threat" is minimal (they’re Speed boats) UNTIL they close to a very close range, THEN the USN warns them and prepares to fire on them. Experienced Naval officers on the scene made a decision....in different circumstances they might have made a different decision. I’ve given one set of circumstances where opening fire might have made sense, at a range in excess of 200 metres. "The totality of the circumstances viewed thru a trained eye..." I’m deferring to the Naval officers on the scene, rather than the rather combative LTC USA (ret.) who is writing for the NY Post.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
yMhihG gmzvtckuuwxf, [url=http://jrewyyrttyvt.com/]jrewyyrttyvt[/url], [link=http://qjmejlrtdyaj.com/]qjmejlrtdyaj[/link], http://nwrdwwxkpozz.com/
 
Written By: ymcpirdtfo
URL: http://rmstjegmeyum.com/
And JPM100 all those things you wrote are true BUT, please tell me how sinking two or three Boghammers makes Iran quit supporting the insurgents or makes it give up its nuclear program or makes it more peaceful? The Iranians did NOT attack the USN, but the USN was supposed to shoot at them becuse of all the things you’ve listed? I don’t see any connection to what you’ve written to what you recommend.
Everything I talked about has to do with when Iran gets the Bomb and naval confrontations. The reference to Iran’s interventions and attack on the US in Iraq are to demonstrate their willingness to do so, so why not the sea as well?

So PLEASE stop putting words in my mouth.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
So the Iranians are willing to confront, at sea even...wow so was the Soviet Union, they launched Bears and Backfires at our CVBG’s all the time. Yet, some how we didn’t blaze away at them, either, JPM! Hostile is not war-time enemy, threatening is not the same as being a THREAT! The Iranians desire to provoke a confrontation, in the hopes of gaining more oil money and shoring up domestic support. Why are we supposed to give it to them, again?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
When the Soviets bumped us, we bumped back until they finally agreed to discontinue the crap. So far, I don’t see where we bumped back.

You seem to worship Status Quo or the fallacy of Stability. So much, you’re advocating policy like nothing is ever going to change if we just stand still and don’t flinch. In fact, you should get a job with the State Department. They think like you.

Iran doesn’t worship the Status Quo. Iran is seeking the bomb for one reason, to project greater hegemony in the Region.

Iran will become a threat because people like yourself are stuck on the Status Quo (Seriously, do you already work for the State Department by chance?). And when they get the bomb, what will you say then? "Well they’re not that bit a threat, so why risk a nuclear confrontation. Let’s withdraw from the Straights for the sake of Stability." And when they have hundreds of nukes, will you say "Let’s withdraw from the Middle East completely for the sake of Stability"?
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
"I’m just confused about this...."

Of course you are. you need to play more video games, to get you in the right frame of mind.


"kind of like skate boarders, am I allowed to shoot them too? "

Ooooh. And people who take up two parking spaces in a parking lot! Yeah!


"I’m sure the men on the USS Cole thought that little boat coming along side was just as safe as could be."

You are probably right. So what? The USS Cole was in Aden harbor. A harbor, pretty much by definition, has lots and lots of boats of all sizes, going to and fro. If you plan on sinking them all, you need a bigger boat.

"When the Soviets bumped us, we bumped back until they finally agreed to discontinue the crap."

Yeah, when the SU collapsed. By the way, they seem to be coming back. And we generally didn’t ’bump back’ with live ammunition.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
So go f*ck yourself with your attempt to mix "he insulted the troops" with your criticisms.


An amusing complaint from the man who then tells Joe to stop putting words in his mouth.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
JPM100 I don’t worship at the Altar of the Status quo...I worship at the Alter of Reasonable Action. I’m perfectly willing to use the military to destroy the Iranian Nuclear Program, but I am not willing to start a shooting war, on Iranian terms, in the Persian Gulf. Apparently "any times all right for a fight" for you, but for me I like to pick and choose my fights, in this case we almost started shooting and that’s good enough for me. The USN says it would have engaged them had they drawn closer..."Trained Naval officers on the scene" not retired LTC from the US Army, writing in the NY Post.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://

 
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