January 16, 2007

The Gathering Swarm

Hatched by Dafydd

In our previous post Iran Strategies 6: Preparing For the "Herman Option?", we introduced a well thought out line of attack against Iran that was discussed in a November Commentary column by Arthur Herman, titled Getting Serious About Iran: A Military Option.

Herman describes the prepositioning for the attack:

The first step would be to make it clear that the United States will tolerate no action by any state that endangers the international flow of commerce in the Straits of Hormuz. Signaling our determination to back up this statement with force would be a deployment in the Gulf of Oman of minesweepers, a carrier strike group’s guided-missile destroyers, an Aegis-class cruiser, and anti-submarine assets, with the rest of the carrier group remaining in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Navy could also deploy UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) and submarines to keep watch above and below against any Iranian missile threat to our flotilla.

In our previous post linked above, we reported that there were now two carrier battle groups (CVBGs) in the Persian Gulf, or perhaps split between the Gulf and the Indian Ocean: the USS John C. Stennis and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Assuming the normal support complement of a CVBG, that means we already had the following in the PiG:

  • 2 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers;
  • 4 Ægis-equipped guided-missile cruisers;
  • 4-6 Ægis-equipped guided-missile destroyers;
  • 2 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates;
  • 4 Los Angeles class fast-attack submarines;
  • 180 aircraft (counting fixed- and rotary-wing), split between fighters, attackers, ASW, and assault helos that can carry Special Forces.
  • An "air defence battalion equipped with Patriot missile batteries to protect America’s Gulf Arab allies from possible air attack from Iran."

And today, the UK Times Online announced that Great Britain is sending two minesweepers to the PiG:

Britain’s contribution is two minehunters HMS Blyth and HMS Ramsey, which will remain in the Gulf for an unusually-long two-year mission to keep shipping routes open in the event that Iran attempts to block oil exports.

The White House has insisted that it has no plans to take military action against Iran. But Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, described the build up as an evolving strategy to confront Iran’s “destabilising behaviour”.

We described Herman's scenario thus in our previous post linked above:

  1. Announce that we will not tolerate any nation interfering with the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz;
  2. Back that threat up by sending at least a carrier battle group (CBG) to the Persian Gulf, along with anti-submarine ships and planes (the latter are routinely carried on carriers), minesweepers, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped cruisers and destroyers, UAVs, and our own submarines;
  3. Declare a one-country blockade of all of Iran's oil shipments out -- and gasonline shipments in; a complete freeze-out. Everyone else gets to ship freely through the strait... just not Iran;
  4. Launch a "comprehensive air campaign" against Iran's air defenses, air bases, communications grid, and missile sites along the PG;
  5. Continue the campaign against the nuclear sites and all supporting infrastructure, including roads, bridges, power plants that serve the nuclear development centers at Natanz and Bushehr, and so forth;
  6. Continue the campaign to destroy all of Iran's gasoline refineries;
  7. Finally, American Special Forces would seize all of Iran's offshore wells and pumping stations, from the strait to Kharg Island.

The beauty of the plan is that we kill very few Iranian civilians and destroy few civilian facilities, which means we do not turn the pro-American youth away from us; but we end up with the ability to turn Iranian oil exports and gasoline imports on and off at will -- which means we can turn everything off now; and then, if the current regime of mullahs is overthrown and a more acceptable regime replaces it, we can turn it back on again.

The Times consults an "Iranian expert," Dr Ali Ansari, who warns that such an aggressive build-up could "accidentally" provoke a war between the West and Iran:

“There is a distinct possibility that the current cold war could turn hot,” he said. “This is an accidental war waiting to happen. Even with the best will in the world crises are not easily managed. Before you know it you can lose control of the situation.”

Can the UK Times be as dense as their American counterparts in New York and Los Angeles? We have just committed to the Gulf every element necessary for the Herman Option, or some similar attack. Does the UK Times really believe we haven't considered the possibility that the Iranians might decide to attack us first?

It has not escaped Big Lizards' notice that, were the Iranians to attack our ships in the Gulf, we would have carte blanche to respond... and nobody, not even the Democratic Congress, could muster much of an argument against it. (We can, of course, use the very plan we'd already developed.)

The scenario seems not to have escaped the Iranians' attention either: all of a sudden, they want to make nice with us. President Ahmadinejad -- and supposedly Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Khamenei as well, though they may have had to bring Bob Woodward in to commune with the dead or comatose -- just sent a letter to Saudi Arabia begging the Sunni kingdom to try to smooth things over between Shiite Iran and the Judeo-Christian United States of America:

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani delivered letters to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah from Iranian leaders, Saudi media said on Monday, in a visit which comes amid rising tension over Iraq and Tehran’s nuclear programme....

Larijani delivered the king a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and key royal diplomat Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

A Saudi official said Iran wanted Saudi leaders to relay a goodwill message to Washington on a desire for cooperation, but gave no more details. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to arrive for talks in Riyadh on Monday and Tuesday.

At the moment -- or as soon as the Blyth and the Ramsey arrive on patrol -- we will have every necessary piece in play; all we need do is launch the attack, either pre-emptively or in response to Iranian aggression.

We may end up in a fast and decisive hot war with Iran sooner than we realize; in fact, by the time we heard it had started, it would be all over but the shouting and screaming and worldwide faux horror... masking a global sigh of relief.

Oh, and it goes without saying [not that that's ever stopped me before] that all credible threats to Iran -- such as a couple of CVBGs in the PiG -- improve the chances that the change of course on our Iraq strategy will actually succeed, bringing us to victory there. Even if we don't get the chance to exercise the Herman Option.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 16, 2007, at the time of 5:06 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Only one drawback I can see, o wise... we somehow have to get Iran to follow Achmedinajar over the cliff from rhetoric to action. I'm sure that there is SOMEBODY over there who knows where the lines are drawn; they've identified it perfectly in regards to the Nukes issue with the UN where Iran is batting a thousand.

Sure it would be nice if they made an insane move like mining the Strait... we could reverse it quickly enough and it is a clear threat to the World As We See It. But will they? My guess is that they frustrate Bush by walking right up to that line, and taunt us by conspicuously not crossing it. Their president sounds insane, but their actions have been masterfully played out on the World Stage, and I expect more of the same.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2007 8:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Iran will wait for the nuke, and hope nothing happens. The U.S. will wait for the nuke, and hope something happens.

What happens when a nuke is tested in Iran? The U.S. immediately responds. No more debate about will they or won't they. No more pretending they are pursuing peaceful nuclear power.

Really, Bush is playing a very good strategy here.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2007 9:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: patrick neid

one can only hope that your analysis is right. our success in iraq depends on removing the iranian and syrian influence of guns and men. iran is not going away on its own. perhaps our build up will provoke them--i admit, it probably won't. to date they have bitch slapped us at will these last 27 years with impunity. my guess, they tone down the rhetoric until we look like provocateurs and the UN/dems/NYT etc demand that we leave. then bitch slapping, part 72, starts.

The above hissed in response by: patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2007 9:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: Section9

Methinks that Condi is in the ME to line up the Players. An Offer that Can't be Refused will be made to the Boy President, if it hasn't been already. That explains the Ha'aretz article about peace talks on the Golan that was leaked on the 15th.

Bush appears weak, but still has the strategic initiative. With nothing to lose but his place in history. Six months from now, I expect his standing will be quite different.

The above hissed in response by: Section9 [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2007 9:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy


This link shows the Stennis departing its home port (Bremerton, WA) on January 16, 2007, for a mission in the Persian Gulf region.

Just thought you'd want to know.

The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2007 11:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

In the midst of our build up, it's refreshing to read even a precious few appreciative comments from a Shia cleric on the work of our folks over in Iraq: Michael Totten in Lebanon

In the article Totten's interview subject, a prominent anti-Nasrallah Shia cleric (educated in Qom) repeatedly makes the point that, common to both the situation in Lebanon and in Iraq, Iran's cleric dominated government is the obstacle to peace, stability and democracy.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2007 11:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: Texas Jack

I'm not really so sure we want, or need, to go as far and as fast as Mr. Herman suggests. I would like to see a regiment or three seal the border with Syria. Nobody crosses, either way, without a chat with our intelligence people. If bad guys try to come into Iraq, they get shot until they run, then chased down and shot some more. If Syria wants to argue about our "hot persuit", we should be able to spare a few rounds for them too.
Same thing on the Iran border, with maybe a couple more RCT's than the Syrian border, plus some serious air support and spy-in-the-sky coverage. The first time we catch some of those Iranian Explosive Devices being brought in, we destroy them, the road they came down, and the factory or storage bunker they came from. We hit no "civilian" targets except maybe the roads, and even there we have legitimate military cause. I'm sure the French, the Iranian government, and the democrats would scream bloody murder, but every bullet, every bomb could be clearly justified as proper military action. Who knows, it might even help topple the mad mullahs.

The above hissed in response by: Texas Jack [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2007 5:42 AM

The following hissed in response by: SDN

Oh, and Bush's good friends the Saudis have coincidentally announced that they like $50 per barrel oil just fine, and, BTW, have three million barrels of unused capacity vs Iran's 2,5 million. The Iranians, per some sources, can't pump enough $50 oil to continue financing all the terror groups, nuke programs, etc.

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 12:19 AM

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