Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Storm clouds - Is war about to break out in the Gulf?

OK, after some frivolity of late, this one is of interest, and potentially serious. (But I have to say, we're been here before several times, and the US has never done anything that would be seen as precipitating a crisis in Iran. So far its all been threats and bluster. And its still difficult to find any 'official' confirmation of the true size of the US Navy build up. It was big to start with.)

Many of the somewhat wacky web sites are buzzing with the current state of the rising tensions between the Western Powers and Iran, alongside the implications of the outbreak of a pretty nasty shooting war between Russia and Georgia, some say precipitated by the US.

At the same time, the US and its allies have allegedly assembled in the Gulf the largest armada of US and allied Navy power seen for a long time, possibly since World War II.

There were reports on August 8th in the Kuwait Times that Kuwait has hurredly updated its emergency war plans in response to the US naval build up and the threat of war.
Govt finalizing war emergency plan
Published Date: August 07, 2008
KUWAIT: The government is finalizing its emergency plan this week in order to ensure that the country is protected from foreign dangers in case the regional situation escalates and a war breaks out between Iran and the USA.

An unnamed senior official revealed that the government has learnt that two aircraft carriers are scheduled to arrive in the Gulf and the Red Sea in preparation for the expected war at any time. The official said that this information led the government to accelerate its emergency plan preparations, which include arrangements for protecting all sectors and vital installations. ...

The list of 'platforms' the US and western allies has recently moved into the Middle East theatre is long and impressive. Here's the list as posted in the pretty 'out there' conspiracy blog of the rather wacky (and that's an understatement) Lord Stirling [thanks for the link Willie!]. The list includes the Somali pirate chasing USS Peleliu which I blogged earlier, presumeably they were on their way north.

Global Research
The US Naval forces being assembled include the following:

Carrier Strike Group Nine
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) nuclear powered supercarrier
with its Carrier Air Wing Two
Destroyer Squadron Nine:
USS Mobile Bay (CG53) guided missile cruiser
USS Russell (DDG59) guided missile destroyer
USS Momsen (DDG92) guided missile destroyer
USS Shoup (DDG86) guided missile destroyer
USS Ford (FFG54) guided missile frigate
USS Ingraham (FFG61) guided missile frigate
USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG60) guided missile frigate
USS Curts (FFG38) guided missile frigate
Plus one or more nuclear hunter-killer submarines

Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group
USS Peleliu (LHA-5) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault carrier
USS Pearl Harbor (LSD52) assult ship
USS Dubuque (LPD8) assult ship/landing dock
USS Cape St. George (CG71) guided missile cruiser
USS Halsey (DDG97) guided missile destroyer
USS Benfold (DDG65) guided missile destroyer

Carrier Strike Group Two
USS Theodore Roosevelt (DVN71) nuclear powered supercarrier
with its Carrier Air Wing Eight
Destroyer Squadron 22
USS Monterey (CG61) guided missile cruiser
USS Mason (DDG87) guided missile destroyer
USS Nitze (DDG94) guided missile destroyer
USS Sullivans (DDG68) guided missile destroyer

USS Springfield (SSN761) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine

IWO ESG ~ Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group
USS Iwo Jima (LHD7) amphibious assault carrier
with its Amphibious Squadron Four
and with its 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
USS San Antonio (LPD17) assault ship
USS Velia Gulf (CG72) guided missile cruiser
USS Ramage (DDG61) guided missile destroyer
USS Carter Hall (LSD50) assault ship
USS Roosevelt (DDG80) guided missile destroyer

USS Hartfore (SSN768) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine

Carrier Strike Group Seven
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) nuclear powered supercarrier
with its Carrier Air Wing 14
Destroyer Squadron 7
USS Chancellorsville (CG62) guided missile cruiser
USS Howard (DDG83) guided missile destroyer
USS Gridley (DDG101) guided missile destroyer
USS Decatur (DDG73) guided missile destroyer
USS Thach (FFG43) guided missile frigate
USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7) fast combat support ship

Also likely to join the battle armada:

UK Royal Navy HMS Ark Royal Carrier Strike Group with assorted guided missile destroyers and frigates, nuclear hunter-killer submarines and support ships

French Navy nuclear powered hunter-killer submarines (likely the Amethyste and perhaps others), plus French Naval Rafale fighter jets operating off of the USS Theodore Roosevelt as the French Carrier Charles de Gaulle is in dry dock, and assorted surface warships

Various other US Navy warships and submarines and support ships. The following USN ships took part (as the "enemy" forces) in Operation Brimstone and several may join in:

USS San Jacinto (CG56) guided missile cruiser
USS Anzio (CG68) guided missile cruiser
USS Normandy (CG60) guided missile cruiser
USS Carney (DDG64) guided missile destroyer
USS Oscar Austin (DDG79) guided missile destroyer
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG81) guided missile destroyer
USS Carr (FFG52) guided missile frigate

A quick summary:
- Georgia has been ruled by a western leaning Government for some time, with a western sponsored oil pipeline from the Caspian running through it, and a history of a semi-independent province (South Ossetia) dominated by Russians since the days of the Soviet Union. It is alledged that there have been 1000 US Advisors in Georgia recently, and that the attack by Georgia on South Ossietia was deliberately timed to precipitate a Russian response. Rumors of Israeli arms shipments and military personel supporting Georgia can also be found.
- Iran continues to do what it wants on Uranium enrichment, and recent sanctions by Europe and the US imply a possible 'search of cargoes' headed to Iran. Any attempts by the west to effectively impose a naval blockade of Iranian imports (or exports), especially of refined petroleum products, would undoubtably be seen by Iran (and China) as an act of war. See also Debka on the blockade
- It would seem US forces are there in such quantity and quality to ensure that, not only can they enforce a (partial)blockade, but more importantly so they can respond in force to any attempt by Iran to shut the straights of Hormuz.
- The wild card remains whether the Israelis will act to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, and if so, will the US allow them to overfly Iraqi airspace (which they control)?
- Everyone knows that GW Bush has only a few months left. The timing of the November election may be something to watch, as no-one will want to be seen to influence the Presidential election. But once the election is over, Israel may feel free to act, and GW can claim to have no control.

Iran have also indicated that they would act against American interests in the Gulf (Qatar? Oman???) if there was any force applied by the US.

All in all, something to watch over the coming few weeks. Plus, I'm not planning a visit to Musandam soon....


  1. I happened to be on the same flight as the British Defence Secretary, Des Browne, who flew into Muscat last Wednesday. One of the papers that his staff were reading was titled "Afghanistan and Iran" Of course, it might be an aid program... Makes you wonder why people read and discuss documents marked "Restricted" and "Confidential" in public places.

  2. And what did they discuss about....?

    But good observation, its amazing what secrets permeate business/first class.

    And pick a nickname!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Disturbing news really isn't it.... I really do worry about how things will go from here.... I dont think anyone wants another war... and this war will be unlike any war of recent years and I feel will be a hell of a lot more bloody.... Hopefully Mutually Assured Destruction will do it's thing and keep everyone peaceful. And I guess Israel better invest heavily in the US's missile shield thing....

  4. Lurker,

    See my next post. It seems the Pentagon have had about enough of Bush and Cheney and the gang getting them to do their dirty work.

    Thank god for professionals...

  5. jeez...are you telling me almost the entire American Naval Fleet is all around us....So whos taking care of the waters around the US right now???? (wouldnt want those somali pirates and the Al- Qaeda getting to know this info....jk) Just pray all the attention gets diverted to Russia and Georgia and everyone forgets about Iran and its nuclear program and the war like situation does not escalate here. If the Strait of Hormuz does get blocked by Iran then the UAE and Oman to an extent are pretty much screwed. I still remember stock piling Nido tins when Iraq attacked Kuwait thinking the war would come all the way to Oman. Anyways UD keep it coming...will be monitoring ur blog and other news site for updates.

  6. cooguy

    You must be kidding. The USA Navy has 11 supercarriers in service (and remember no-one else has any at all), plus several smaller carriers called Amphibious Assault Ships (like the one used against the pirates).

    So, for them to have 3 Carrier strike groups and 2 Expeditionary strike groups - groups of ships centred on a carrier of some kind - while a very, very impressive force, it still leaves plenty of others for hanging around the USA, Taiwan, Pacific, Atlantic, etc etc.

    In total the US Navy have 280 battle deployable ships.

    Also, I find it hard to believe Iran would ever attack a GCC or Gulf country. So, while it may get tense, I think common sense and the fundamental logic of the MAD [Mutually assured destruction] doctorine will prevail.


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