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U.S. Navy Vulnerable to Iran Offensive

Is the U.S. Navy vulnerable to Iran in the Gulf?

This Washington Post story says that Iran has substantially increased its ability to inflict damage on American ships in the Persian Gulf in the last two years. Tehran recently tested a new anti-ship missile, which in concert with its ever-expanding swarm of mini-submarines and fast-attack boats could overwhelm larger Navy vessels in the Gulf, and especially around the key choke point at the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. is scrambling to devise countermeasures, but if conflict comes soon, it may not be enough:

The Navy has ordered new systems for defending against small-boat “swarms,” including ship-launched unmanned aerial vehicles and special missiles and artillery rounds for use against fast-attack craft. But many of the new defenses will not be deployed for several months, said Michael Eisenstadt, a former military adviser to the Pentagon and the State Department.

“We’re behind and we’re catching up,” Eisenstadt said. “But if there’s a conflict in the near term, we may not be completely ready.”

It’s enough to make you wonder what other threats around the world U.S. forces are  failing to foresee. Is this a question of resources, or of vision and will? Either way, it needs to be addressed.

The consensus of course is that the U.S. Navy would eventually prevail, even against Iran’s souped-up weapons systems. And the U.S. Air Force has recently readied a bunker buster bomb that could penetrate deep into Iran’s heavily fortified nuclear facilities at Fordo. Nevertheless, Iran may now believe that it has a window of relative advantage. Its navy may have more success dealing with U.S. forces now than they would have a little farther down the road. That is a destabilizing factor in an already dangerous situation.

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  • Bob from Ohio

    Our enemies always imagine they have an advantage. Never turns out that way.

    Even accepting everything in the article at face value, we have far more options. We can stand outside the Gulf entirely, for instance, and still destroy the Iranians by missiles and air power.

  • Mrs. Davis

    The Iranians remember what it’s like to tangle with the USN. In case they forgot, one of our <a href="; supply ships recently gave them a reminder.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Preview would help.

  • bill phelps

    The WaPo article presented nothing beyond that found in professional navy publications and blogs. My reaction to the article is twofold: Is the USN advising the public that any conflict will result in ship
    damage, even sinking? Is this misdirection targeting Iran?

  • JKB

    “…but Iranian leaders could claim a psychological victory if the world’s media carried images of burning U.S. warships in the gulf,… ”

    That would guarantee an Obama loss and a massive early February retaliation ordered by President Romney. Why do Iranians hate weak-kneed Democrat US Presidents?

    In the days after 9/11, I was scared. Not of the terrorist but that the nation would unleash the US military to exact vengeance. And they would have swept across this earth as a power never before seen. But instead Bush let things calm down, emotions settle, then went for a reasoned response. Burning US warships would provide not opportunity for counsel, the American people would demand that Iran and their terrorist allies be broken. No nation building, nation destroying. Obama would hesitate and be damned for it, but a new President would have no other option than to issue the order, “Go!”

  • John Burke

    Well, in any conflict, the other guy gets to take shots too. In the relatively cramped quarters of the Gulf, one would have to be very foolish to assume that Iran would never hit anything with a combination of land-based anti-shio missiles, small fast boats, mini-submarines, etc. Still, the Post piece contains few hard facts that are alarming or have not long ago been taken into account by Navy planners.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    ““We’re behind and we’re catching up,” Eisenstadt said. “But if there’s a conflict in the near term, we may not be completely ready.”

    But on positive side US Navy now has females serving (and getting pregnant) on submarines and its chaplains are getting ready to perform single sex marriages.
    Obviously Navy was busy to pay enough attention to irrelevant details like Iran and Islamics.

    US Navy did not have a brush with worthwhile adversary since 1945, almost 70 years. Navy was, and is, free to engage in any number of social experiments.

    History shows, and Mr Mead could produce many examples, when long term idle military goes to a war with capable opponent, suddenly many weaknesses and weak leaders are unmasked.

  • Mick The Reactionary


    “In the days after 9/11, I was scared. Not of the terrorist but that the nation would unleash the US military to exact vengeance.”

    So, in the days after Muslims burned 3000 people while they were seating at their desks, your first thought was how to restrain your fellow citizens.

    They, your fellow citizens, are the biggest threat to the world, not Islamics. At least in your mind.

    You are a good patriotic American, Alinsky style.

    I hope US could survive another term of Alinskite President if it comes to that.

  • Kenny

    Is the U.S. Navy Vulnerable to Iran Offensive?



    Because of the politically correct rules of engagement our political class subjects our military to.

    It just would be right for the U.S. military to be taken off the leash and humble some ragtag Third World bunch.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I know this is a matter of grave concern to the Navy, because there war game exercises based on the Persian gulf a few years ago that were won by the hostiles.

    None the less, we are not without alternatives. We can use our air power to blow up the Iranians boats and missiles first.

  • Corlyss

    I’d speculate that a little vulnerability is a good thing, provided assault on the Navy would force us to get serious about Iran. But we haven’t been serious about tripwires in decades. I wonder what would have really happened if the Russians ever had flooded thru the Fulda Gap.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Please, we are talking about the Iranians here, does anyone really think they are competent? We clobbered the Iraqis twice and did it will tiny losses, the Iraqis fought the Iranians to a stand still for 8 years, despite the fact that Iran outnumbers Iraq 2.5 to 1. So why would anyone believe that the Iranians are better now 20 years later, when they sucked 20 years ago as veterans of 8 years of war? The US Navy would turn the Iranian attackers into chum.

  • Stephen

    Herschel Smith noted the threat to step-up transformers in his post “A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb”:

    The greatest threat may be closer rather than farther afield.

  • dr kill

    The US Navy? A global force for good? Possibly vulnerable to Iranian aggression?
    I just hope they get all those pregnant petty officers off the boats before taking evasive actions.

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