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It’s getting easy to overlook the tired rhetoric and hollow tension surrounding Iran, the U.S. and Israel.It’s been months, and months since the back-and-forth began. First, Iran’s shutting the Strait of Hormuz, then it’s saying it’d never shut the strait. Then Israel’s planning a solo attack. No, they’re not.
It’s frustrating, and more than a little confusing, but that doesn’t mean the situation couldn’t turn ugly at the drop of a hat.
Joby Warick at The Washington Post reports improved Iranian weapons and an enhanced plan of attack could nail the U.S. fleet parked in the Gulf, and there may be little Navy officials can do about it.
From The Post:
[Iran’s] emerging strategy relies not only on mobile missile launchers but also on new mini-submarines, helicopters and hundreds of heavily armed small boats known as fast-attack craft. These highly manoeuvrable small boats, some barely as long as a subway car, have become a cornerstone of Iran’s strategy for defending the gulf against a much larger adversary. The vessels can rapidly deploy Iran’s estimated 2,000 anti-ship mines or mass in groups to strike large warships from multiple sides at once, like a cloud of wasps attacking much larger prey.
“This is the scenario that is giving people nightmares,” said [an] official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing strategy for defending against a possible Iranian attack.
We recently wrote on one strategy for thwarting a multi-pronged attack against a naval task force, but Raytheon’s new system isn’t up for handling the hundreds of heavily armed small boats officials believe Iran would send against the U.S. fleet.
While Iran has called American ships in the region a threat, and Tehran has allowed nuclear discussions to seemingly fizzle, the latest round of sanctions are entering the final phase of Washington approval.
The Iranian sanctions already in place are having quite a bite, with the cost of chicken doubling in the past year.The lack of enough chicken, a staple in the Iranian diet, has led Tehran’s security forces to ban creative agencies from showing poultry in movies or on TV.
Assuming the next round of sanctions make matters worse, it seems reasonable to wonder when Tehran might decide it has little to lose, and accepts the Pyrrhic victory found in sinking a couple of U.S. Navy ships.
With its flotilla of speedboats, fleet of submarines, and huge inventory of missiles and mines, Iran is in the position to inflict some damage on the U.S. fleet if for no other reason that it has such a wide array of vessels to attack.
In addition to the more than 20 ships of the 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain, there will be another strike group headed to the Gulf led by the carrier USS John C. Stennis. On top of this, four additional minesweepers arrived in the region last month to ensure shipping lanes remained open and undisturbed. Those craft joined the refitted USS Ponce which is being used as a forward staging base.
To that end, 19 other countries will descend upon the Gulf September 16, with the U.S., to conduct an immense 11-day mine sweeping operation to practice mine countermeasures.
So while the dialogue about Gulf developments can appear to be the same tired old mantra from yesterday, the situation continues to develop and it may not be Iran that strikes first.
With both the U.S. and Israel blaming Iran for the Bulgarian terrorist bombing, it seems likely the two nations could be keeping score, and reach a point where they jointly launch a strike against the Muslim nation.
If that happens, expect the U.S. to suffer casualties and the price of oil to go through the roof. Just don’t expect to see it before the November elections.
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