Friday, July 26, 2019

Mining Hainan

Given the near complete absence of mine countermeasure assets in the US Navy, the nightmare scenario in a war is an enemy that uses a few submarines to lay a handful of mines in mainland American ports and then has only to sit back and watch the Navy convulse in an effort to race back from the war front to clear and protect our ports.  Our entire MCM fleet - all 6-8 LCS (and the few Avengers and HM-53E helos that we might not have yet retired) – would have to be brought back from any overseas missions to conduct port clearance.  Even then, we’d only be able to clear and maintain a maximum of 8 ports even using the minimal, and inadequate, tasking of one LCS per port.  Unfortunately, the US has many dozens of ports.  While this mammoth convulsion was on-going, our commercial shipping would be brought to an abrupt standstill.  A clever enemy – and no one is accusing Russia or China of not being clever! – would be able to institute a total blockade of the entire United States via a handful of submarine laid mines.  How’s that for a return on investment in low cost mines and a few subs?

Such a move would have the added benefit, for the Chinese, of depriving the US fleet of its overseas MCM capability which means the fleet would be unable to go anywhere that mines were even suspected – which would be almost everywhere!  Thus, in one stroke, the Chinese could paralyze both our commercial shipping and our naval actions.

So, clearly a bad news scenario for us.

Fortunately, we are frantically working to build lots of additional dedicated minesweepers and new MCM helos.  Oh wait … we’re actually not doing that at all.  We’ll set aside the staggering stupidity of our non-existent MCM plan and force and press on to a related aspect .

Having recognized the catastrophic nature of this scenario, why can’t this scenario be turned around?  Why can’t we use our subs to lay a few strategically placed mines in and around the Chinese Hainan base/port, for example?  Why can’t we mine the various chokepoints around the South China Sea through which Chinese merchant shipping must pass?  Why can’t we mine the Taiwan strait?  And so on.

Theoretically, there is no reason why we can’t turn the scenario around.  Of course, the reality is that we no longer have the capability or weapons to achieve such a scenario.  Our mines are nearly obsolete and our subs almost never practice mine laying (see, "Offensive Mine Warfare - Operational Usage").

The attractiveness of being able to apply against our enemies the same mine warfare that we dread encountering is so blindingly obvious that one can’t help but be stunned by our near total neglect of offensive mine warfare.  What little mine awareness we have is directed towards the ill-suited and ill-conceived LCS MCM module.  We need to remember and regain our offensive mine warfare mindset and capability.


  1. Wild Goose: "It would seem the Air Force is confident of being able to use its bombers to deploy mines"

    This comment was deleted as just a simple repeat of readily available information and previous posts. If you care to offer some analysis of insight, feel free to comment.

    1. I like how the Seal of Lion's post below, which isn't that much different than the one I posted, gets the approval lol.

      "This comment was deleted as just a simple repeat of readily available information and previous posts. If you care to offer some analysis of insight, feel free to comment."

      Well, @ComNavOps, my point is that when you look at the readily available information, it paints a picture that the Navy is moving away from ship and submarine based mining towards air dropped mines, what with Hornets doing MINEX in Valiant Shield and MPAs dropping mines. It also suggests to me that the Air Force is trying to take on the naval mining mission to a greater degree, as another way of staying relevant in a Pacific pivot and securing a mission/funding for the B-21 program, because the B-52s are great if nobody's shooting at you, but are a lot less survivable in contested airspace.

      On the other hand, the problem with open sources is that there are things which don't make it to open sources. Buddy of mine was a sailor in the Singapore navy; officially the patrol vessels and Littoral Mission Vessels are just ships intended for littoral patrol, and that's all the open sources talk about. What doesn't get mentioned is how these are also part of Singapore's minelaying assets, which is something his boat trained for. *shrug*

      I feel this leads up to a question that has some merit in discussion - should the Navy give up the naval mining mission to the Air Force? Bombers are a very attractive deployment platform because of their speed, coverage and faster turnaround time vs a sub. Assuming 2 mines can be carried in place of a torpedo, a Virginia-class SSN could carry 74 mines (4 bombers' worth of payload*) , but it would take significantly longer to mine the same area of space as those four B-52s, given that it needs to creep about slowly - on the other hand, an SSN is significantly stealthier than a bomber. It's all a question of tradeoffs.

      As a corollary to this (but that's a discussion for another day), I think the isolated nature of the CONUS has been a contributory factor to why the USN doesn't seem to place as much importance on mine warfare vs nations like Japan or Singapore. It's hard to get worked up against a threat that that nobody can wield against you, I think. Mine warfare is something that happens to other people, not the US.

    2. *This source ( ) gives a total of 18 Mark 84 bombs or Mark 65 Quickstrike mines) for a B-52 bombload.

    3. "I like how the Seal of Lion's post below, which isn't that much different than the one I posted, gets the approval lol."

      The difference is that you've been counseled, repeatedly. SOL's post also offered some little known information about NVietnamese mine clearing efforts.

  2. USAF has been testing Quickstrike-ER mines. Quickstrike are Mk-80 series bombs that are outfitted with a mine fuze and have been operational since Vietnam. Not as great as a purpose designed mine but does the job. The -ER adds JDAM and deplorable wings will let a bomber or plane release the mine 40-50 miles from the target and have it drop in at a designated point.

    Clearing minefields isn't easy even with the best of equipment. Modern fuzes can be set to ignore many of the conventional sweeping methods. With all the junk on the harbor bottom, the mine can blend in and/or be modified to look like junk. Then there are anti-tamper devices that will make it blow up in your face.

    Back in Vietnam when the US finally dropped mine in the North's harbors the fisherman spotted where the mines when in. The North stopped trying to send divers down to lay a change next it to blow it up because the divers kept getting killed.

    1. "Clearing minefields isn't easy even with the best of equipment. Modern fuzes can be set to ignore many of the conventional sweeping methods. With all the junk on the harbor bottom, the mine can blend in and/or be modified to look like junk. Then there are anti-tamper devices that will make it blow up in your face."

      @SealOfLion: All true, although that's reliant on your mines actually making it to the minefield. You gotta question whether than 50 mile standoff range from Quickstrike-ER allows B-52s to be able to seed enough mines to restrict Chinese movements - the answer to that is going to be very situational and dependant on the local geography (and the Air Force is probably betting on having enough time before a hypothetical war with china goes hot to get the B-21 into service).

      Otoh, as with the Desert Storm mineclearing experience, international law requires you to declare the limits of your minefield, but doesn't require you to actually seed the entirety of your minefield. All you need is to seed enough mines that your opponent has to take your declaration seriously and thus painstakingly sweep your minefield.

    2. For a lot of merchant ship owners all they have to hear is 'minefield' and they avoid it like the plague. There doesn't have to be a mine actually there, just the threat. That makes the ship insurance companies, like Lloyds, jack up the rates.

  3. Port security in the US is traditionally a Coast Guard responsibility.

    There's no reason a minesweeper/MCM vessel can't also do a perfectly good job of basic law enforcement on the side so that seems like a more likely solution than getting the Navy to take on a major mission set like this.

    1. And hopefully the minesweepers used in US harbors wouldn't need to worry about being shot at. Still doesn't fix the problem of the Navy needing MCM.

  4. Instead of a meticulous search, identify, and destroy protocol for mines, is there a possible way to "brute force" this problem... Either Miclic style or using a sacrificial hull to force open lanes?

    Obviously, this isn't suitable for our home ports, but it could reduce the mission stress on our few MCM assets we possess.

    1. Not really. Mine fuzes these days can be set to identify specific ships or be programmed to ignore others. They can have multiple sensors too. Like it detects a 'warship' but then notices the displacement of water is too great for that class and doesn't fire.

      I gather that they are still finding mines from WW2 & even WW1 that were laid by various sides. The Soviets pulled up a lot of WW1 German mines, refurbished them, and planted them in WW2. A lot of those old this have been rendered safe due to corrosive and time but you can never be sure.

    2. "Instead of a meticulous search, identify, and destroy protocol for mines, is there a possible way to "brute force" this problem... "

      Yes, I commented on this. Instead of the typical US approach which is to use exquisite sensors to totally identify every mine or mine-like object and then painstakingly neutralize them one by one, a very low level, indiscriminate destruction of anything even remotely similar to a mine would be effective and immune to mine subterfuge and programming. This would be tantamount to area bombardment - destroy everything and don't worry about what it was.

      This would require some kind of swarm of mini-UUVs with limited sensors and enough warhead to blow up one mine or object. Send a swarm through an area and destroy every suspicious object and be done with it. Can we develop such a UUV? I don't see why not. It's pretty simple, functionally.

    3. You largely just described Barracuda...

    4. I have heard of Cold War ideas involving using nuclear depth charges as mineclearing tools - the idea is to emulate the Daisy Cutter and MOAB: you drop something that makes a big boom which sets off the mines, and they all explode themselves.

      Nothing much seems to have come of the idea, and the physics challenges are a real thing - as I understand it from the people I talked to, water doesn't transmit shockwave as well as air does, and so an underwater blast is going to have less of an effect, compared to performing that same blast on land.

    5. "You largely just described Barracuda..."

      To an extent. Barracuda doesn't seem to have autonomous search capability - yes, it has autonomous search when given a pre-set target via its onboard data link but doesn't seem to be able to simply search a volume area on its own.

      It also doesn't have any kind of group (swarm) search capability although this is just a programming issue and ought to be easily applied.

      Its sensor package may be a little too sophisticated for this application and the comms package is unneeded.

      But, yes, it meets the basic requirement and would be a good starting point.

      Have you seen a cost estimate for these?

    6. "I have heard of Cold War ideas involving using nuclear depth charges as mineclearing tools"

      I seriously doubt that. It sounds made up. Do you have a reference?

    7. I can believe someone suggested it during the early cold war. All of the services found problems that nukes could "solve". We even deployed a nuclear recoilless rifle (the Davy Crockett). Probably never got beyond a drawing in "Popular Science" magazine.

  5. IMHO having the Coast Guard doing some or most of the domestic mine sweeping is an excellent idea. Land based helo's are not size limited to shipboard requirements and flight times from airports to harbors and rivers would take a few minutes, adding to the efficiency.

    MCM ships would not have to be blue water capable and endurance times of about 7 days would allow 2 MCM ships to rotate 7 days on, 7 days off on a continuous basis. There's no reason this couldn't be shortened to 5 on, 5 off if 7 days was too long. Ships would not need defensive systems beyond heavy machine guns, keeping the cost down.

    For many years I have thought a mine torpedo would be an efficient way to give an enemy a bad day. Not the sub launched torpedo mine that lies on the bottom and explodes like a mine, but a torpedo that sits on the bottom until a target gets close, then rises under power to actively pursue the target. Since distances will be short, high speed and long range are not required.

    Target ships could be specified to increase success rates by avoiding high speed ships and concentrating on support ships like mine sweepers and underway re-fueling ships. Something about the size of the Mk 54 is all that is needed, with a long range, low speed "booster" motor to get the torpedo from the sub to the harbor entrance.

    An omni directional passive sonar could be tethered to the torpedo, being released to swing upward once the "mine" is active and in position on the bottom. Once detected, target course, speed, and distance could be calculated, the tether would be cut as the torpedo begins its interception.

    1. You just described CAPTOR...

  6. "IMHO having the Coast Guard doing some or most of the domestic mine sweeping is an excellent idea"

    The problem would as always getting the budget prerogative the Pentagon enjoys, while still being not in the Pentagon (it would loose its expansive law enforcement abilities).

    The same really goes for having the USN back out of domestic disaster relief or Hospital ships (although it does seems to be doing that anyway) budget. The USCG hardly gets the budget for things it desperately needs like new ice breakers for its current key missions. Heavy ocean Ice breakers and the ones for the great lakes and critical ships for the USCG. Pretty comparable to a CV for the USN since they are unique and expensive. But this is the state of the of the Polar Star too old ~40 years

    Duty on it must either be punishment or a fast track to promotion since it looks like you get a daily chance to prove you don't panic and can improvise fast. It might not be this story but there a nice anecdote about somebody using a surf port repair kit to execute engine repairs.

    But how would you organize them. considering just the ships. If you want off the self easy you could buy the ungraded Italian designs (Gaeta MLU version). It not a huge investment in manpower but it is sort of mission focused(*). To stay good at what they do I can't see them really supplanting other ships. So what maybe a reserve fleet than? with a dedicated reserve staff not 100% but sufficient to stay well trained and also run a percentage of the ships on a rolling basis?

    If this is going to be credible you need them at Hawaii, both coasts and some that could be allocated to the Panama Canal so what 10 in Hawaii, 15 on either coast with the expectation that some would diverted to Panama. That would exiting 40 US flagged minesweepers with nothing to but train for one job. If the recent Finnish purchase is any measure that in ~90 million a pop. That's 3.6 Billion I rather doubt the USCG has ever been allowed to have that budget for an acquisition of one class at one go. And of course no doubt the USN if it did not throw a fit would simply stop pretending it even carried an iota about MCM warfare and just plan to grab them all when if found out in Marines could not get to Taiwan due to mines.

    I like the ideal toss in more budget let the USCG run the hospital ships, add more reserve capacity and budget more major disaster relief domestically so the USN can step back a bit from that. Up arm some cutters and them hag with the Philippians and help drive of Chinese flag planting s and illegal fishing... The way the current budget run I just don't see it happening and even if the USN won't do those jobs or complains when the eat into their budget I am pretty sure the USN would hyperventilate over such an expansion of the Guard.

    * the Malaysians up the HP and armament but its to have compromised the MCM doing it. Slow and low range I suppose they could be used for security and policing around harbors where you are dealing with commercial traffic and not trying run down narco speed boats.

    1. I know I bring up the Gaeta a lot but its hard not to feel it a solid design. For the Italians its in its third design iteration. And it sells well to countries that face real potential problems with mines - Finland, Taiwan, (copied) ROK who can afford to buy good good boats (I don't see any of them clamoring for the LCS)

    2. "If the recent Finnish purchase is any measure that in ~90 million a pop."

      I assume you're referring to the Katanpaa class? Those look to be very capable MCM vessels but are vastly overspec'ed for the kind of domestic, harbor MCM work we're talking about having the CG do. The Katanpaa class is open ocean capable, 1500 nm range, ice-capable, and is equipped for ocean and hydrographic surveying as well as MCM. It also has a 40 mm gun which makes it almost as lethal as the LCS!

      Strip out all those unneeded capabilities and that $90M cost should drop considerably. Further, even that is likely too much capability. For local harbor MCM work, I don't think we'd even need a vessel, per se. The actual MCM work is performed by separate unmanned vehicles and helos. Those vehicles could be deployed either directly from land or via small craft rather than actual MCM vessels. I'm thinking a simple yard patrol boat, suitably modified to carry and launch UUVs, would suffice.

      I've got to believe that if we kept simple, along the lines I described, we could buy used yard boats and modify them for tens of thousands of dollars, not millions.

      Just speculating!

    3. I can see some dedicated harbor capacity. But I like the ideal of boats more because they can redeployed. Are we going to invest in the Panama canal as well?

      Yes the Finnish price might be high. But if you knock in done by a third or half I feel we are better of with somebody (in the US) having a significant fleet of real MCM ships. I'd be willing to drop a Ford to do it.

      Another thought here. It strikes me that with the USN disinterested in MCM not only are the Marines grand visions of Amphibious warfare a mirage, but also the Army's decision to sell off it transport fleet look even more insane. Seeing as they face the very real possibility of seeing ports denied to them (or in the Pacific wanting to do thing on small Atolls or such that don't have ports)

    4. "significant fleet of real MCM ships."

      Don't misunderstand. We need a fleet of dedicated, ocean going, 'real' MCM ships for our combat needs. However, that's separate from the home port, harbor CG MCM that we're talking about. That doesn't require 'real' ships.

      "USN disinterested in MCM ... Army's decision to sell off it transport fleet"

      If you recall, I've repeatedly stated that I see no reasonable amphibious assault scenario in a Russia or Chinese war. If I'm right (of course I'm right!), then we don't need an amphibious fleet, the Army doesn't need a transport fleet, and our MCM needs are drastically different.

    5. Hmm I was thinking the army fleet would come in heady if you wanted to build anything at all in a remote island site. Or simply need to try and get supplies to Taiwan after the nifty roll on roll off ports get hit with ballistic missiles.

    6. "* the Malaysians up the HP and armament but its to have compromised the MCM doing it."

      The more significant changes in the subvariant between Mahamiru and Gaeta are more that the Mahamiru boats run twin diesels and shafts. Minehunting speed is 7 knots vs the Gaeta's 6 knots.

      The shift to 40mm wasn't really for increasing the firepower, it's more an issue of ammo commonality. TLDM doesn't use the Oerlikon 20mm anymore, but still uses the Bofors 40mm and there's an existing supply of shells to slot into.

  7. Coast Guard MCM number of ships.

    I believe the number of ships needed for harbor MCM during peacetime would be very low. The real value is having functional assets ready for war and training crews, both on the water and in the air. MCM is a lot like ASW, tedious, meticulous work until something explodes, but it takes continuous training to get good at both.

    Without a current threat, we could get by with less than 24 hour a day/ 7 days a week MCM and don't really need every port covered. Hawaii, Bremerton, and San Diego would be a good start in the West. Boston, New York, Annapolis, and Jacksonville could be the starting points in the East. Rotating crews through 12 months of MCM would create a pool of experienced people that could be brought up to speed much more quickly than starting from scratch. Assets could be built quickly when needed and experienced personnel assigned appropriately.

    New hardware and techniques could be tried on a small scale, keeping costs down. Assets could be moved to a "hot spot" if actual threats are located. Also, the deterrence of having active MCM may reduce the likely hood of an enemy risking detection to deploy mines.

  8. I can across this while looking for information on mine sweeping technology. It is a historical account of mine warfare and minesweeping from the Civil War to the Gulf War.


  10. The PLA Navy only has ~13 SSNs. They have more SSKs, but those don't have the underwater range to make it across the Pacific undetected. The US has 52 SSNs, with more on the way. For the PLAN to send their SSNs across the Pacific to operate near all the defenses they would encounter near a major port is risky, and pulls them away from the fleet action in the South China Sea/East China Sea. Sending them around either cape to operate in the Atlantic would be even riskier. Our SSNs will nail some of them on the way out of Hainan, and get others elsewhere. The scale of the threat seems unlikely to be as significant as you believe.

    1. "The scale of the threat seems unlikely to be as significant as you believe."

      It only takes one or two SSNs to accomplish the mining of US ports as described in the post. The threat seems very likely!

  11. The West Coast only has ~4 major ports to protect: Puget Sound, SF Bay, Long Beach, and San Diego. Throw in Pearl Harbor, Anchorage, and Guam for good measure. Any halfway decent ASW effort should prevent submarines from operating undetected inside the Puget Sound and SF Bay - you shouldn't have to actively patrol the entire interior of those waterways. That's a very manageable 7 points to actively sweep for mines. Mothball the Avengers and bring them back out if you need them - they should be able to handle it and leave the rest of the fleet free to operate in the Pacific.

    The threat to the East Coast is much less significant - attempting operations there would be a great way for the PLAN to lost an SSN in transit with no net gain.

    1. "Any halfway decent ASW effort should prevent submarines from operating undetected inside the Puget Sound and SF Bay"

      Given the routinely poor ASW results in exercises, your unwavering faith in our ASW is as surprising as it is misplaced!

      "That's a very manageable 7 points to actively sweep for mines."

      Given our current and near future near-total lack of MCM assets, your faith in our MCM capability is as surprising as it is misplaced! The basic arithmetic, alone, runs contrary to your faith since we only have a total of 6 active (well, planned active) LCS MCM and even you recognize a need for 7! The MH-53E helo MCM will be retired shortly with no replacement and the Avengers are due to be retired (those that don't run aground!) without replacement, also. Again, the basic arithmetic reveals that simply protecting even just those 7 points will leave NO MCM assets available for forward fleet actions. Hmm … seems to be a problem.

  12. After spending both active duty and reserve time in the Mine Warfare Force, I have several thoughts about this issue.

    First, it is absolutely true that the Navy has ignored and neglected this area far too long. We got surprised at Wonsan, and after going through End Sweep I saw first hand just how incredibly unprepared our top levels of command were to deal with any sort of mining or mine countermeasures effort.

    As for the comment about nuclear depth charges, I'm not sure what I am cleared to say, but I can say that there were similar ideas to use large conventional charges at specified intervals down a channel to set off everything within a certain range. I'm not sure exactly how you would deliver those charges or how effective they would be, and I don't think we ever collected any test data.

    I like ComNavOps's idea to try to get quick clearance by sending a bunch of underwater devices down a channel to blow up anything that looked like it might be a mine. I see a couple of potential problems, one being that if the channel had a bunch of twists and turns I'm not sure how you would program that into the devices, and two being that from having gotten a bunch of SQQ-14 time, there are an extraordinary number of "mine-like" objects on the bottom of just about every navigable channel, and blowing up every one of them could be a more expensive and time-consuming exercise than you may realize. The trade-off would be how discerning you wanted to make the detection sonar on the devices versus how much they would cost and how many you would actually need.

    In my proposed fleet, here is the way I've thought about going. I'd have two types of countermeasures ships. One would be an MHC, there are a lot of good designs out there. The other would be a helo/drone mother ship. It would probably look sort of like a small LSD/LPD, with a hangar and flight deck for two MH-53s (or their successors) and a well deck to fit two helo sleds and 4 or more drone minesweeping boats. It could also carry ComNavOps's drone mine destroyers and/or the conventional charges and method to deploy them if that were the way we decided to go. The MHC could also carry some, and both could carry dive teams.

    I'd build 30 of each. You have basically 15 US ports where you could base mine craft, 7 in the Pacific--Guam, Anchorage, Honolulu, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, LA/Long Beach, and San Diego--and 8 on the east coast--Houston, New Orleans, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Chesapeake, New York, and Boston. I'd put 2 each of both ships in each of those ports. They could be reserve ships, and would do local MCM ops on drill weekends, and during two week ACDUTRA periods. Those training periods could be used to test other concepts. We would then have an established MCM capability at each major domestic port, plus a force that could be deployed in numbers to any place where needed.

    As far as mining, we need both more and newer weapons, plus significant time working on mining operations. I have proposed some AIP/diesel/electric subs as part of my proposed fleet, and those could be a very sensible mine delivery vehicle. Haiphong we did by air, because that's all we had. We need more than that.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

    1. " not sure what I am cleared to say, but I can say that there were similar ideas to use large conventional charges"

      There's nothing much secret about that. We use conventional charges to clear mines on land and near shore, now (MICLIC, for example). I have doubts about the effectiveness. If you look at the ship shock testing explosions, for instance, the area of significantly affected water is actually pretty small. It would take a LOT of charges to clear a usably wide area.

      "if the channel had a bunch of twists and turns I'm not sure how you would program that into the devices"

      I'm looking at the aerial swarm UAVs and their ability to navigate obstacles and maintain stations and patterns. I think we could do this with UUVs. The channels are well mapped.

      "blowing up every one of them could be a more expensive and time-consuming exercise than you may realize. "

      I'm assuming we'd need hundreds to thousands for a single clearance effort. The cost would be insignificant compared to a sunk ship or failed assault.

    2. The not sure what I'm cleared to say was about the nuke question. I think I'll just say, "It's true that there's a rumor."

      I think the hundreds of thousands of your UUVs is a realistic number.

      As far as the navigation issue, I think that depends on how smart we want to make something that we are going to lose 100,000 of.

      I definitely think it's something we should explore and test during the MCM exercises I am contemplating. Try it and see how it works.

    3. "As far as the navigation issue, I think that depends on how smart we want to make something"

      Simple inertial waypoint navigation requires almost no smarts!

    4. Wouldn't you have to put the waypoints into the individual UUVs? Sounds intensive to have to do 100,000, but I bet they could be downloaded a bunch at a time.

      Anyway, ComNavOps, I want to thank you for calling to light a major hole in our Navy's preparedness. Mines aren't sexy, so nobody wants to address mine warfare until it's too late. If we don't, we will get burned over and over.

      I've shared some of my thoughts, and I appreciate the thoughts of others. Hope we can keep this thread going for a while.

    5. "Wouldn't you have to put the waypoints into the individual UUVs? Sounds intensive"

      I would think it would be possible to do it wirelessly for large groups at a time. Just like RFID chips in ID cards can respond to wireless commands, it wouldn't be hard to input simple waypoints, I would think.

      "nobody wants to address mine warfare until it's too late."

      This is what's so disappointing to me about Navy leadership. These are supposedly our professional naval warriors and yet they exhibit no professionalism regarding combat preparations, whatsoever. If an open source blog like this can see the problems, why can't they? Very discouraging.

    6. I'm sure there's a way to load the waypoints quickly, but we have to develop it and practice it. My idea of 30 mine squadrons in 15 major ports is designed to have them practice often and test new ideas as part of that practicing. We're not going to be very good at this when we start, but if we can practice enough we can get pretty good over time. So no time like ASAP to start.

      I'd make the same comment about the current state of ASW, although it has not been neglected as long as mine warfare.

      As far as the leadership, I remember back to End Sweep and we had to educate PACFLT staff about how mines and mine warfare worked. There were a couple of faux pas at the top levels before we got them trained,

    7. "we had to educate PACFLT staff about how mines and mine warfare worked."

      I'm reminded of the educational process of a medical doctor. The interns/residents go through what they call 'rotations' where they work for several weeks in a given specialty area (pediatrics, cardiology, neurology, etc.) regardless of whether that's the area they ultimately want to specialize in. The idea is that they get some exposure to every area so that in the future they'll have at least enough knowledge about subjects outside their field to know the basics and know when to call in outside experts.

      It strikes me that an intern rotation type of exposure training would be good for staff officers so that they get exposed to ASW, MCM, AAW, EW, etc. and acquire, at least, a basic understanding of each area so that they know the fundamentals and know when to call for expert help.

      Something to think about.

  13. One further comment about my idea for MCM vessels. I would have the helicopters and drones start by sweeping to clear a swept channel as best they could in a fixed time frame. Then I would have the MHCs go in to hunt down anything in the swept channel. The current US policy seems to be hunt first and then sweep, which seems to me to be exactly bas-ackward.

    Obviously, if ComNavOps's drones or the fixed charges approach could be developed (and those are things I would test out in those weekend and two-week training periods) then we could do those first and shorten and simplify the problem.

    1. I agree. One of the tactics used in mine warfare is not have all of the mines active at the same time. That way the initial sweep doesn't clear them and they are still around to disrupt transit in the "cleared" channel. Having mines go off in a "cleared area" is a great way to see your movement grind to a halt.

    2. "I agree."

      You agree with what?

      Do you think there is any mine clearance methodology that can clear an area in an operationally useful time frame? Or, have mines become so sophisticated (as a group/field, immune to countermeasures) that we can't clear in an operationally useful time frame?

    3. "I would have …"

      Okay, that's what you would do but would it work in an operationally useful time frame? Or, have mines become so smart that they can't be cleared in a useful time frame?

      Your method may be better than the Navy's but still not operationally useful? What do you think?

  14. MCM/MW has always been the red-headed stepchild of any navy. It's not glamorous work and the ships are small. The RN had so degraded its MCM capability that it had to requisition fishing trawlers to clear Port Stanley of mines during the Falkland's War.

  15. I would argue the main strategic value of the Iranian speedboat fleet is its ability to interfere with any mine clearance operations in the Strait of Hormuz. Both sides like to talk up the idea of swarming an aircraft carrier with them but that seems a misdirection to me. Most of them are mounting something like a 107mm artillery rocket as a main weapon, that’s not going to do much to a carrier or a big destroyer - but it could really mess up a small mine clearing vessel.

    Picture this as an Iranian war strategy, instead of the popularly imagined swarms of doom. On day one, sow mines all over the strait and shut it down. Keep the boats hauled up on shore and under wraps. Drag a dozen or two of them down to the beach and send them out each night to toss a few more mines in and take potshots at any ships trying to sweep the field.

    Even if you (very generously) assume all the boats they send out like this each night are going to get sunk, they’ve got over a thousand of them, and the ability to manufacture for. They can keep this up more or less indefinitely. Blasting the ports to scrap (which I assume would be taking place) does nothing to stop this, since the boats are small enough to be towed around trailers and launched almost anywhere.

    Bring a few MANPADs along on each of the boat squadrons too and you make it risky for any helicopters flying patrol over the minesweepers as well.

    Couple that with some land-based anti-ship missile launchers and surface-to-air missile units leading USAF around on a very frustrating game of hide-and-seek and there might be no means of reopening the straits at all, short of coming to terms with the Iranians or trying to seize and hold the entire Iranian coastline facing the straits (which the US has no effective means to do, so back to square one: make peace with the Iranians).

    1. Very nice example of some alterative thinking. This is exactly the kind of alternative scenario that we should be exercising against. I want you for OpFor leader in our exercises!

      Now, what would you suggest for a US response to this tactic? How could we deal with it? Do we need our own small boat flotillas (Mk VI, Cyclones) to counter it? Greater use of drones? Guys in RHIBS?

      Keep posting comments of this nature. This is the kind of creative thinking I love to see!

    2. I personally am in favor of a diplomatic realignment with Iran and I think we missed a big opportunity to do that when we had the chance to combine our efforts against ISIS and chose not to. The way I see it, the Saudis are responsible for as much, if not more instability throughout the region, and the smart way to deal with that would be the ability to pivot between one and the other depending on which gets more out of line.

      Setting politics aside though, first capability we’d need is more minesweepers, and a lot of them. Preferably with a self-defense weapon like an autocannon that can handle small boats, and the ability to see and shoot at night.

      Having some self-defense capability is crucial because they will be operating in mined waters, every ship you bring in to escort them runs the risk of hitting a mine. And the numbers are crucial not only to account for clearance rate and attrition but also so they can operate in groups and help watch each other’s backs (and pick up survivors from any losses, if need be).

      High speed is something they built into the LCS because they had some sort of scenario like this vaguely in mind, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Zipping around and trying to dance with these speedboats seems like a good way to blunder into mines, and the newer speedboats they have like the Safir can pull something like 70-90 knots, easily outrunning even a “fast” ship like the LCS.

      Better to have a slow, stable firing platform so as to accurately hit these fast moving targets. One thing the boats will have a hard time doing when they’re going at full speed is actually hitting anything with a manually aimed weapon like an artillery rocket. They’ll have to either dash in and fire their shot when they’re real close, or sneak slow, launch from further away, and use their speed to execute an escape. Being able to shoot at them before they can shoot you is the best defense, since even a boat that is zigzagging and dodging fire will have a much harder time lining up a straight shot on you.

      One weird gonzo idea that occurs to me for these minesweepers is having outriggers that support supporting a screen of some kind up to about gunwale height, kind of like the slat armor they use on tanks to detonate projectiles prematurely. Might be a cheap way to improve survivability against the rockets these boats use (and easily removable for sweeping in non-contested environments where they’d just get in the way).

    3. Apart from that, there needs to be cheap recon, a lot of it. One of the enemy’s toys I’m actually kind of curious about is their Bavar ekranoplan. An unmanned version of that of that might offer the right combination of speed, loiter time, and affordability to lose. Not sure on the details, but those are the things you’d want. Ability to cover a lot of ground without worrying too much if they get shot down.

      Having something like an AC-130 would be an easy way to wipe out any flotillas that get spotted, depending on how clear the SAM environment is (obviously a big fat target if they have S-300’s unaccounted for or Buk launchers close to shore). But that’s a whole different story...

      As far as escort and patrol ships I think the safest bet would be ones close to the size the Iranians are using. My guess (though it is only a guess) is that their mines would be fused to detonate on vessels larger than themselves so that they can move through their own fields freely. Small boats of our own could then (hopefully) do the same. Try to armor them against 12.7mm fire (where you can, without losing too much speed) and pack something a quad .50 or a compact 25mm autocannon if you can to give them the edge in shootouts. A radio and a launcher for signal flares would probably be the most useful features on these things (warning everyone else would be main use of them, winning dogfights against their opposite numbers is secondary).

      A robust coastal raiding capability with the SEALs and appropriate equipment for sneaking in and out quickly would also be helpful to try and regain some of the initiative against the enemy, instead of being totally reactive.

    4. "A robust coastal raiding … regain some of the initiative against the enemy, instead of being totally reactive."

      Yes! The best ASW is to destroy subs before they put to sea. Similarly, the best MCM is to destroy these mini-miners before they hit the water. Small drones to hunt and some kind of fairly quick reaction attack capability from waiting boats would be nice.

      I like the way you think!

    5. "I personally am in favor of a diplomatic realignment with Iran"

      In theory, who isn't? The reality is that there is a WHOLE LOT of pent up animosity in them towards the US. Until they stop chanting 'Death to America', alignment would be difficult. There's also the seemingly intractable issue of their genocidal view on Israel which is a non-starter for us. Their desire to become a nuclear weapon state (any doubt they'd use it in an irresponsible manner?) is another solid road block. Finally, they view the Great Satan (tough to be friends with someone who sees you that way!) as infidels and any agreement entered into with infidels holds no validity, in their minds. Such pragmatic issues aside, sure, we'd like to have better relations but there seems to be little common ground or compromise.

      Now, Russia is an example of an enemy who could be friend-ized with some effort.

      Practical challenges aside, I like your philosophy (stop me if I'm putting words into your mouth) that the best way to defeat an enemy is to make him your friend. I'm just afraid that with Iran the entrenched animosities run too deep for that to work.

    6. "One thing the boats will have a hard time doing when they’re going at full speed is actually hitting anything with a manually aimed weapon like an artillery rocket."

      True. On the other hand, proximity fuzed, fragmentation warheads could do a lot of damage to and LCS or Burke without needing accurate aiming. Showering shrapnel will do lots of damage to an LCS (might well sink one with a few hits since they have no crew for damage control) and enough damage to a Burke to mission kill and claim a PR victory.

      While a single rocket on a single boat may have a low probability of hitting, a swarm of rockets is statistically likely to achieve a hit or two and, given today's lightly built ships and minimal crew for damage control, one or two hits would prove quite damaging.

    7. "Small boats of our own"

      Our Mk VI's far outgun their typical small boats and have some degree of Kevlar type protection. I have no idea whether they'd be able to operate in a mine field?

  16. That is the ideal solution for me to me but it would be an uphill struggle, perhaps impossible in the near future because of the current administration’s actions. Obama’s, however, missed the real opportunity (surprise, surprise) when ISIS arose as a greater evil that America, Russia, and Iran could have united against. That could have built some good will and grounds to improve upon but we chose to keep on trying to overthrow Assad instead (and failing).

    I would note that Russia and China are infidel nations as well but the Iranians don’t seem to have any issue honoring agreements with them. There was also a brief opening of cooperation with us during the start of the Afghan War (can even find quotes from guys like Suleimani back then about how maybe it was time to re-evaluate our whole relationship) but that crashed after they were labeled part of the Axis of Evil.

    1. At this point however, the best we can hope for is avoiding outright war. Unfortunately the blockade is going to make it harder and harder to prevent as time goes on. It’s one thing to embargo a country from trading with you, but another thing to try and cut off their trade with the entire world. That’s pretty much an act of war itself.

      Iran’s policy is that if they’re not allowed to export oil through the Gulf, no one will. Which explains the steady series of provocations on their part.

      I don’t see regime change on the horizon at all no matter how bad the economic crisis gets. There are some mainstream parties in Iran advocating reform but none at all supporting the complete overthrow of the system.

    2. The only group we have lined up to support our regime change effort is the MEK, who are a sick joke. They were a crypto-communist, cult-like organization that committed a lot of terrorist attacks and signed up to fight for Saddam against their own country. Traitors who have zero support in their own country. The US found them camped out in Iraq when we took over in 2003, detained them for a while, then decided they might be useful and rebranded them as a “democracy movement.” Moved them out to Albania instead (and the Albanians got sick of having them around real quick).

      Those couple thousand clowns who’ve been in exile for decades are all we’ve got. The ayatollahs have eight million young men in the Basij. Safe to say they’re not going anywhere unless there’s a total invasion and occupation of their country.

      If that’s the case, the blockade is pointless and just increases the likelihood of starting a war we have nothing to gain from.

      Try convincing Bolton and the other political hacks though. They actually give speeches in front of the MEK and think they’re talking to “the Iranian people.”

    3. So, without agreeing or disagreeing, it sounds like you're proposing that we wait for the next opportunity to find common ground and seize it? Status quo until an opportunity presents. Is that a fair summary of what you'd suggest? If so, I have no problem with it, in theory but I am mindful of the IMMENSE challenges in doing so. Of course, we're now semi-friends with the North Vietnamese - who'd have thought it? - so anything is possible!

      What would help a lot is for Iran to dial back some of the 'Death to America' rhetoric as a prelude to better relations - assuming they even want better relations - while they, too, wait for an opportunity. Well, I guess this is what makes international diplomacy so challenging.

  17. Diplomacy is a difficult art of its own, and our ruling class has become even more inept in that than they are at war. The most likely path to reconciling with Iran now probably relies on reconciling with Russia first, which would certainly be easier were it not for the stupidity of those running our government and our media.

    1. I happen to agree that we could be friends (or at least, not enemies) with Russia. What points of common interest do you see with Russia that are significant? Of course, it would help if they, too, would dial back the rhetoric, stop invading countries, and stop antagonizing our military assets.

  18. The main problem facing the world today is state collapses rather than specific rivalries between states. When a country falls apart it becomes open ground for terrorism and organized crime to thrive in, and it unleashes waves of refugees on its neighbors and the first world countries. The instability spreads, everyone suffers from it, and it’s much harder to put a state back together afterward than it is to destroy it in the first place. We’ve seen it happen some places on its own, and some places where we went in and caused it through regime change attempts.

    Keeping more of these disasters from happening should be priority number one in foreign policy. Every country in the world has an interest in this, and the big three in particular (America, Russia, China) should come to an understanding that whatever our other differences, we need to coordinate on that particular issue.

    Two general trends that are going to contribute to state fragility in this century are Islamic fundamentalism (particularly the Sunni variety, since it’s far more widespread and less under the control of any state) and the ongoing population explosion in Africa.

    Islamic terrorism has been a problem for all three, mass migration from Africa has been a problem for Europe and will be for everyone as time goes on. Those are key issues to finding common ground with them.

    1. War with Iran is worrying because if it goes total and the US really takes its gloves off, and pushes it to its final conclusion, the outcome is probably going to be another state collapse, this time with a country of 80 million people. Afghanistan and Iraq are in no position to take refugees, so where do they go? Probably three million plus trying to get into Europe at once (notice how the Europeans really, really don’t want to get involved in this war).

      Along with them you have 100,000 or more ex-Revolutionary Guards who are now out of a job, hellbent on revenge, and have no bosses to take any orders to hold their fire from anymore. Iranian terrorism would take off like never before.

      Finally, if they know that they’re going down, nothing will hold them back from playing their last cards, which would be hitting every oil facility and tanker terminal on the other side of the Gulf with every missile they they have left. Might as well take everyone else with you, right?

    2. They have a lot of ballistic missiles, a lot of cruise missiles, and I would bet on Russia supplying them some more if the US went to war with Iran while remaining hostile to them - no better chance for them to see how their latest generation weapons will fare against us.

      We know from past experience that recon is hard, we know from looking at a map that Iran is big and has lots of places to hide, and we know from how they’ve fought in Syria and against Israel that Hezbollah are pretty skilled at what they do - so it follows that the people who trained them will probably be just as good.

      I can guarantee USAF won’t find all their missiles, and I’d also bet they wouldn’t even find most. Add a world economic crisis to a massive refugee crisis and probably an ongoing civil war in Iran, and the prizes to be won from this war look real shitty to me.

      And even if some kind of ‘democracy’ emerges from the ruins, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about what that’s going to look like. Democracy in Turkey led to Erdogan, when they tried it in Egypt they got Morsi, etc. The only way we got a somewhat stable and somewhat friendly regime together again in Iraq was because Iran did us (and more so themselves) a favor by helping us do it.

      In this case we’re not going to have any help from the outside, and friends of the US are going to be few and far between after we’ve blown up half their country and killed a bunch of their brothers and cousins.

      A whole lot in the minus column and not much at all in the positive. That’s why I see it as so important to stop this from happening.

    3. "War with Iran is worrying because … another state collapse, this time with a country of 80 million people."

      Okay, now how do you reconcile that pessimistic outcome view with the end of WWII and Germany/Japan? Is it not possible that good could come out of such a state collapse? Of course, the good in Germany/Japan was the result of US total occupation. Would we do that in Iran? If not, why not?

      "100,000 or more ex-Revolutionary Guards who are now out of a job, hellbent on revenge"

      Aside from the fact that many would have been killed in the fighting, how would they be different from the German/Japanese soldiers (even ex Nazi/SS) after WWII? Those people didn't go on murderous rampages. Why would this be different? If it is different, does that argue for a focus on killing them during the fighting?

      "hitting every oil facility and tanker terminal on the other side of the Gulf "

      In a total war, we'd eliminate most of those missiles on Day 1. The remainder on Day 2 and any left for revenge launches should be handled by a couple of Tico/Burkes with Aegis. Not saying we could stop 100% of the missiles but the resultant damage should be minimal.

      I think people tend to forget just how much firepower and capability we can bring to bear if we really want to. A war with Iran should be a two week exercise, at most.

    4. "A whole lot in the minus column and not much at all in the positive. That’s why I see it as so important to stop this from happening."

      I have a different view but you make a valid case and I value that kind of comment! My agreement is not a requirement for a worthwhile comment and yours are quite worthwhile. Thanks for the effort you put into writing them!

    5. "They have a lot of ballistic missiles, a lot of cruise missiles, and I would bet on Russia supplying them some more if the US went to war with Iran "

      Unless we try to do something incredibly stupid like a 'limited war' or some such nonsense, a war with Iran would be over far too quickly for any resupply from Russia to be a factor.

  19. Agreed on the value of having open-minded debate. There are certainly some out there who exaggerate Iranian power or underestimate America’s.

    I prefer to error on the side of caution but I try to keep my views grounded by looking to historical examples. Here’s a few that I have in mind.

    The NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in the Kosovo War. Fought against Serbia, a state that while militarily quite competent, is much smaller, weaker, and more poorly equipped than Iran. This was intended to be a quick shock and awe victory through massive airpower. It ended up dragging on for 78 days. Strikes on military targets proved totally ineffective at achieving the outcomes of the operation (getting the Serbs to pull out of Kosovo). Only after the bombing campaign switched to targeting civilian infrastructure did the Serbian government buckle and order a withdrawal. We thought we’d blast the Serbian Army back into its villages with their tails between their legs; instead, they withdrew from Kosovo in good order, having only suffered limited losses thanks to their dispersion and deception tactics. Their army wasn’t beaten, their government caved in. If we assume the Iranian government is as fanatical as claimed to be, it’s hard to imagine the same thing would happen there.

    Particularly notable from this campaign was the success of the Serbian mobile air defense systems in surviving under US airpower. Referring here to the SA-6 Gainful (or Kub), a system which dates back to the end of the 1960s.

    The Serbs had 22 of these systems in operation. The United States fired 389 HARM missiles at them throughout the conflict. Only 3 of them were actually destroyed (stats are in the first link below). Serbia is not a big country, but mobile SAM systems are really hard to track down when proper scoot and shoot tactics are used (the Israelis only achieved an easy wipeout on the Syrian AD network in 1982 because the Syrians parked them on top of hills and marked their locations with smoke, thinking wrongly that it would conceal them).

    Now the Serbs didn’t manage to hit much with their missiles, 665 shots for only a handful of kills (one of them a stealth bomber), because 1960s vintage radars don’t do so well against 1990s era jamming.

    But just surviving and being a potential threat has a radical impact on your enemy’s air campaign. Every strike package you send in needs to be escorted by jamming and SEAD, limiting the number of sorties you can fly in total. You also have to divert your efforts from going after the targets that really matter to trying to track down and wipe out those SAMs. In naval terms, think of it like a fleet-in-being strategy. It might not actually be doing much direct damage to the enemy, but it’s tying down far more enemy resources than it takes to maintain it.

    Finally, you’ve got to consider the fact that air defense systems have improved radically since the 1960s, or even the 1990s, while air defense suppression systems have not. We’re still using the same AGM-88 that served (rather questionably) in Kosovo, with minor improvements. The Iranians will be employing systems a generation or two ahead of those the Serbs fielded in 1999 (or indeed any other enemy’s we’ve actually faced in battle, Iraq and Libya having fielded the same vintage systems as Serbia).

    Now the Iranians certainly don’t have enough of these systems to lock down their entire airspace and make it impenetrable. But if the USAF with full NATO support couldn’t clean out a much weaker system in a much smaller country over a 78 day period, I find it doubtful in the extreme that it will manage to do so against Iran’s in just 2-4 weeks. And it should make you wonder what else they won’t manage to destroy in that window of time as well...

    Useful sources:

    1. "campaign against Serbia"

      I'd be very cautious about using that as an example of anything military. The main military objective of the US was to avoid any casualties. Any actual military objectives were distant secondary concerns, at best. Target lists were scrubbed through a coalition of twenty some countries.

      This could barely be described as a military venture. We used no ground forces and applied only a portion of our aviation capabilities and then in only a half-hearted manner. Low level flights we eliminated so as to avoid casualties. The anti-SAM effort was perfunctory, at best.

      The Serbian AAW system was totally ineffective. As I recall, they achieved 3 kills against 30,000 - 40,000 coalition sorties, or something on that order. So, yes, their AAW systems may have survived but they achieved nothing.

      This was not a war or military exercise. It was a political live fire demonstration. It offered nothing of military value in terms of lessons learned because it was conducted as a PR demonstration rather than actual combat.

      The better study is Desert Storm. Iran and Iraq fought inconclusively for, what, eight years or so? The US defeated Iraq in a matter of days. There's the model for a war with Iran and the source of lessons learned.

  20. A second key historical example would be the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, especially useful since it’s a showcase of a force using Iranian tactics and weapons fighting against a force using ours.

    Israel went into the war counting on the same advantages we would in a war on Iran - total air supremacy, superiority in numbers, training, and technology in general. But while the extent to which they were “defeated” may be debatable, the fact that they didn’t get what they were hoping for or what they expected is not.

    Two very important aspects of this war to focus on. The first was the survivability of Hezbollah’s rocket force. The Israelis had a large Air Force, highly equipped and well-trained, which had uncontested control over Lebanese airspace, Hezbollah at the time having no air defenses to speak of. Yet in spite of all this, and given a country the size of a postage stamp to hunt in (okay, the size of Connecticut), they still weren’t able to find all of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket assets. In fact, they never never even made much of a dent in their force at all. Hezbollah started the war with 18,000 rockets. They still had 14,000 left when the war ended 33 days later (just outside of the four weeks you see as the upper limit of how long it would take to defeat the Iranians). Rocket fire went on every single day of the war and could have kept up at the same pace for another three months.

    Unguided artillery rockets have very little impact outside of a psychological one when they’re used this way as strategic weapons. But give a force that well-drilled at hiding its weapons and launching them without getting spotted some real weapons, like the Soumar, the Zulfiqar, the Sunburn, and so on, and there’s going to be some real damage on the other end of those strikes. US air and naval bases, desalinization plants, and a massive amount of oil and shipping infrastructure are all sitting right there across the Gulf, waiting to be hit by something.

    Even the Iraqis were very successful in hiding their Scud missiles from the US Air Force, and the Saudis are having little luck in wiping out the Houthi missile force either, no matter how much advice and hand-holding the US gives them. I have no doubt that a massive amount of firepower would be rained down on the Iranian side, and lots of things will go boom. But I don’t think our historical record (or anyone else’s) should give as much confidence in the ability to wipe out an enemy’s missile force purely from the air. Especially not in a timeframe of just two weeks, much less just two days.

    Which brings up the other important lesson from the 206 war: the Iranians are not a joke in a fight on the ground. They took Arabs, who have a fifty year track record of being some of the lousiest infantry fighters in the world, and turned them into a force that was able to hold its ground against the Israelis (put that in contrast with the stubborn ineptitude of the Syrian and Iraqi armies the Soviets spent billions training and equipping, or the Saudis or the new Iraqi army we did the same for).

    This will not be Saddam’s army running away and crying after the first wave of airstrikes hit them. This is the same country that spent eight years at war, whose soldiers charged through minefields when there was no other way to get through. All their commanders are now are veterans who fought in that war

    Don’t expect these guys to give up quickly, even if the losses are 10:1 in our favor or worse. You can find one of two assumptions behind just about any failed military campaign throughout all of history. One of them is “the enemy will give up the first time we hit them hard” and the other is “the people will rise up and welcome as liberators.”

    It seems to me you’re making both of them here.

    Useful sources:

    1. "war between Hezbollah and Israel, "

      You're missing the key aspect and key lesson of both this and the Kosovo conflicts and that is the half-hearted approach. Israel has consistently opted NOT to whole-heartedly engage. They have valued avoidance of collateral damage and 'civilian' (are there really any? see post on the subject) casualties over military objectives. Had the Israelis approached this as a war for survival, they would have committed overwhelming ground force to first destroy everything and then occupy what was left. Those 18,000 rockets would have been neutralized in a matter of days through sheer occupation. Guerrillas have no chance against an armored, mechanized force with air supremacy THAT CHOOSES TO ENGAGE TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY. The US engaged totally in Desert Storm. The US barely engaged in Kosovo. Israel half-heartedly engages.

      Now, if the US chooses to engage Iran half-heartedly then all your predictions will be true, more or less. If the US chooses to engage totally, a war with Iran will be over in two weeks. Day 1 will see every significant military target destroyed and the Iranian leadership all dead. Armored divisions would sweep through Iran from all directions. And so on.

      I have never said that Iranian military would give up. What I'm saying is that it will be academic because they'll be dead.

      I'm not saying the Iranian people will rise up and welcome us as liberators. What I'm saying is that they won't be terribly upset by having their oppressive government removed.

      Too many people want to try to draw lessons about total war from half-hearted wars. The only lesson from half-hearted wars is don't fight half-hearted wars.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.