04/22/20

Sinking Iranian Boats

The other day, the Iranian navy decided it was a good idea to harass six American warships (US Navy and US Coast Guard ships) in the Straits of Hormuz. Huh?

Eleven armed Iranian vessels — some looking like cabin cruisers with mounted .50 caliber machine guns — from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGDN) came as close as thirty feet from the US Coast Guard cutter Maui. This required the Maui to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

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01/12/20

Power, Risk, Leverage

In global affairs, Power–Risk–Leverage are a three-legged stool whereby nations (both friend and foe) evaluate whether and how they should relate to and work with each other.

Countries do not have friends; they have alliances which are driven by changing relationships amongst Power–Risk–Leverage.

Power–Risk–Leverage

Consider the relationship between the United States and Iran as an example.

During the Obama administration:

 1. The nation of Iran believed it had little risk of the United States taking any kind of military action against it. They mocked the US and chanted, “Death to America!”

They seized US Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. They supported terrorists who targeted Americans. They impudently conducted their terror affairs in the open. They maimed and killed US soldiers with their EFPs (explosively formed penetrators), shaped charges that cast molten copper to destroy vehicles and to maim soldiers’ limbs.

EFPs are the size of a coffee can and can fire copper slugs at the speed of Mach 6 — 2000 meters per second — which can penetrate armor and cut soldiers’s arms, hands, legs, feet off.  The Iranians made them for deployment inside Iraq. More than 600 Americans were killed by EFPs and more than 1200 were wounded.

 2. Iran believed they had considerable leverage because they had been on the verge of nuclear breakout with a nuclear weapon and the world valued that capability as an enormous risk, thereby attaching considerable value to forestalling it.

 3. Iran had control of the Straits of Hormuz, and,

 4. Iran had closed the Iranian Crescent (the land bridge from Iran through Iraq, through Syria, to Lebanon and the West Bank thereby exerting leverage over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel).

The world fanned the Iranian self-assessment by entering into the infamous Iran Nuclear Deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We, the US, led the world in allowing Iran to think they punched way above their weight class.

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01/5/20

Poking The Iranian Bear

Good friend of mine sends me an email, says, “Hey, amigo, you know all that military crap. Are we going to get slapped around by Iran? Poke the sleeping bear meme real? Are all the baristas at Starbucks going to get drafted?”

I laughed, called him, and said, “Where do you get this crap? Let me lay some facts on you.”

If the Iranians decide to retaliate for the US’s hit on Soleimani, the confrontation will likely degenerate into an air campaign from the American side.

Why? We don’t want to put ground troops into Iran. Make sense?

The Iranian Air Force

The Iranian Air Force has the following mixed bag of combat aircraft:

Russian MiG 29 multirole (fighter/bomber) aircraft — 20

Russian Su-17/20/22 attack aircraft — 10

Russian Su-24 attack aircraft — 23

US F-4 Phantom II fighter bomber aircraft — 63 (16 unarmed, recon only)

US F-5E fighter aircraft — 20 (includes some reverse engineered derivatives)

US F-14A/AM Tomcat fighter interceptor aircraft — 26

French Mirage F1 fighter aircraft — 9 (from Iraq when fleeing Desert Storm)

Iranian HESA Kowsar fighter aircraft — 7 (good avionics based on F-5 airframe)

Chinese F-7 fighter aircraft — 17 (built by Iran under license from China based on MiG-21)

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09/20/19

The American Presidency

No man, with the possible exception of General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower, has ever been ready to become President of the United States on day one.

The job is bigger than any man, more complex than any man’s experience, throws him into a malestrom of competing voices and opinions while uniquely challenging its holder to make life-and-death decisions beginning day one. Looking at that sentence, I believe that Ike was ready to go right after the Inauguration.

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09/17/19

Iran, Curious, Provocative Iran

The Middle East is on the verge of an explosion precipitated by a spiral of Iranian provocative behavior. Your Big Red Car would like to calmly discuss what has transpired to bring the world to this point. We need to know the history of the region and Iran.

In 1979, the Shah of Iran — an American ally of some long standing — fled and the resulting leadership void was filled by the Ayatollah Khomeini, a religious exile of some fifteen years. The son of a religious scholar, the Shiite cleric was said to have memorized the Qur’an as a youth.

The Shah — Mohammed Reza of the family of Pahlavi — had been put into power in 1941 by the Russians and the British (when they attacked and seized Iran in World War II to safeguard supply lines to Russia) and was considered to have been only the second “modern” Shah. As Shah, Reza was pro-Western. He spoke English, French, German, and Persian (Farsi), but was at his core a playboy.

Reza, as Shah, launched the White Revolution in the mid-1960s. His advancement of the Iranian culture was extraordinary as was the growth of the standard of living amongst the Iranian people and womens’ rights. It is important to note that the Shah “reigned” and, ultimately, “ruled.” The big driver was oil wealth of gargantuan proportions. In many ways, he was ahead of his time in the westernization of Iran.

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06/27/19

Judgment And Going To War

While I recognize that you are engaged in evaluating the debates and probably don’t have time for anything else, I want to slip in a few comments about judgment.

What brings this to the fore in my V8 is the matter of President Trump deciding not to strike Iran in retaliation for having downed a US Air Force drone.

Image result for images global hawk

Here is a picture of the drone, a RQ-4A Global Hawk that is flown by three remote pilots, has the wingspan of a 737, flies at 500 MPH, carries ooooodles of tech gear to listen to and look at our enemies, and typically operates at 65,000 feet altitude.

[Big question — WTF was the Global Hawk doing operating at 22,000 feet over the Straits of Hormuz? That is within the capabilities of Iranian SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) to reach while if they had been at 65,000 feet, the Iranians could not have reached that altitude. Why?] Continue reading

06/15/19

War Drums — Acts of War 1980s – 2019

Creating an impediment to free navigation and attacking ships of other nations are historic acts of war inviting retaliation from aggrieved parties. In fact, we have seen this movie before with tragic consequences.

Image result for images iraq v iran war

Back in the day, Iran and Iraq were locked in a war that ultimately incurred 1,000,000+ casualties. Maybe as many as 2MM.

The Iraq v Iran war has been compared to World War I in that two modern armies went at it over a protracted period of time while engaged in static, trench warfare, and human wave attacks. A bit inaccurate as the Iranians used very sound mobile warfare and deep strike air attacks at times.

Massive amounts of soldiers were deployed with the Iraqis striking with six divisions in the first attack. From a troop perspective many campaigns employed forces generally larger than the Allied D-Day operation. Big war.

Professional soldiers have studied this war as it entailed massive tank battles (the Iraqis ended the war with 4,000 tanks — fielding the 4th largest army in the world that they would one day unleash against Kuwait.)

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09/3/18

Accidental War With Iran

Big Red Car here on Labor Day thinking about a weird topic – accidental war with Iran.

The reason I am thinking about this is a recent threat I have seen in several Middle East periodicals suggesting that Iran will close off the Straits of Hormuz if the US imposes sanctions on the sale of Iranian oil.

The US has already begun to impose sanctions on Iran as of early August with another round of sanctions to hit in November of this year. The November sanctions will include sanctions on Iranian oil.

Image result for images iran navy

Small rocket-equipped Iranian vessels practicing attacking shipping in the Straits of Hormuz. The Iranians have a large number of such vessels and might achieve the element of tactical surprise in their first such attack.

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