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Monday, October 22, 2007

US not in position to attack Iran - yet

For those of you who want to try to anticipate when a US attack on Iran might take place (I've already predicted the summer of 2008), the LA Times has some tips:
In domestic politics, it's always a good idea to follow the money. When it comes to grand strategy, however, you need to follow the navy -- to be precise, the aircraft carriers that would be the launching platforms for any major air offensive against Iran's nuclear facilities. To do this, you don't need to be very skilled at espionage. The U.S. Navy makes the information freely available at http://www.gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html or in the "Around the Navy" column published each week in the Navy Times.

The U.S. has 11 active aircraft carriers. Of these, the Kitty Hawk is in port in Japan. The Nimitz and Reagan are in San Diego. The Washington is in Norfolk, Va. The Lincoln and Stennis are in Washington state. And the Eisenhower, Vinson, Roosevelt and Truman are undergoing various sorts of refitting and maintenance checks in the vicinity of "WestLant" (Navy-speak for the western Atlantic). Only one -- the Enterprise -- is in the Persian Gulf.

At present, then, talk of World War III seems to be mere saber-rattling, not serious strategy. U.S. aircraft carriers can move fast, it's true. The Lincoln's top speed is in excess of 30 knots (30 nautical miles per hour). And it, along with the Truman, Eisenhower and Nimitz, are said to be "surge ready." But take a look at the map. It's a very long way from San Diego to the Strait of Hormuz. Even from Norfolk, it takes 17.5 days for an aircraft carrier group to reach Bahrain. If you were Ahmadinejad, how worried would you be?
Not very worried.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

The general scenario one reads about in media speculations of US military contingency plans is of a short but extremely intense air and naval campaign. No ground invasion is needed or contemplated.

Given the great distances from the bases of the US strategic assets - B-1 and B-2 bombers plus the carrier task forces - I don't see how the US can achieve strategic surprise.

However, tactical surprise is something else. American military planners have shown great talent and imagination. And while nation-building may not be our forte, nobody excels as well as us at conventional warfare military planning and lightning execution. When the Iran attack happens - not if - that'll be the deciding factor that will pave the way for successful execution.

(Tangential point-I suspect that when it's done and Iran is defanged, Israel's Arab neighbors and the Arab Gulf states will be almost as relieved as Israel...privately, that is. No doubt, The Usual Suspects will scream the usual invective against America and Israel. But so what, they do that already.)


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