The Bush administration has covered up and ignored dissenting Pentagon war games analysis that suggests an attack on Iran's nuclear or military facilities will lead directly to the annihilation of the Navy's Fifth Fleet now stationed in the Persian Gulf.
Lt. General Paul Van Riper led a hypothetical Persian Gulf state in the 2002 Millennium Challenge wargames that resulted in the destruction of the Fifth Fleet.
His experience and conclusions regarding the vulnerability of the Fifth Fleet to an asymmetrical military conflict and the implications for a war against Iran have been ignored. Neoconservatives within the Bush administration are currently aggressively promoting a range of military actions against Iran that will culminate in it attacking the US Navy's Fifth Fleet with sophisticated cruise anti-ship missiles.
They are ignoring Van Riper's experiences in the
Millennium Challenge and how it applies
to the current nuclear conflict with Iran.
The most sophisticated of Iran's cruise missiles are the 'Sunburn' and 'Yakhonts'. These are missiles against which U.S. military experts conclude modern warships have no effective defense. By deliberately provoking an Iranian retaliation to U.S. military actions, the neoconservatives will knowingly sacrifice much or all of the Fifth Fleet.
This will culminate in a new Pearl
Harbor that will create the right political environment for total
war against Iran, and expanded military actions in the Persian Gulf
The Fifth Fleet currently comprises a carrier group and two helicopter carrier ships. Its size peaked at five aircraft carrier groups and six helicopter carriers in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. Presently, it is led by the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier commissioned in 1961.
It is the oldest of the Navy's nuclear
powered class carriers and scheduled to be decommissioned in 2015
when the first of the new Ford Class carriers enters service. The
Enterprise has over 5000 Navy personnel, and on November 2, began
participating in a
Naval exercise in the Persian Gulf.
Robert Gates, the U.S. Secretary of Defense explained:
It would be Central Command and the Fifth Fleet that would be directly responsible for carrying out a new war against Iran.
As a result, it would be the Fifth Fleet that
would be most vulnerable of all U.S. military assets to Iran's
arsenal of anti-ship cruise missiles.
One researcher of Russia's missile technology explains its focus on anti-ship technologies:
The SS-N-22 or 'Sunburn" has a speed of Mach 2.5 or 1500 miles an hour, uses stealth technology and has a range up to 130 miles.
It contains a conventional warhead of 750 lbs
that can destroy most ships. Of even greater concern is Russia's
SSN-X-26 or 'Yakhonts' cruise missile
which has a range of 185 miles which makes all US Navy ships in the
Persian Gulf vulnerable to attack. More importantly the Yakhonts has
been specifically developed for use against Carrier groups, and has
been sold by Russia on the international arms trade.
In their final approaches these missiles take evasive maneuvers to defeat anti-ship missile defenses. The best defense the Navy has against Sunburn and Yakhonts cruise missiles has been the Sea-RAM (Rolling Actionframe Missile system) anti-ship missile defense system which is a modified form of the Phalanx 20 mm cannon gun .
The Sea-RAM has been tested with a 95% success rate against the 'Vandal' supersonic missile capable of Mach 2.5 speeds but does not have the radar evading and final flight maneuvers of Russian anti-ship missiles.
Naval ships are having their anti-ship missile defense fitted with the new Sea-RAM.
However, the Sea-RAM has not yet been
tested in actual battle conditions nor against the Sunburn or
Yakhonts missiles which out-perform the Vandal. The Vandal is
currently scheduled for replacement by the 'Coyote'
which replicates many of the evasive maneuvers of the Russia
anti-ship missiles necessary for developing an effective defense.
Iran has purchased sufficient quantities
of both the Sunbeam and Yakhonts to destroy much or all of the Fifth
Fleet anywhere in the Persian Gulf from its mountainous coastal
Subtitled, Comprehensive Strategy Needed to Improve Ship Cruise Missile Defense, the study pointed out that the,
The study found that although,
A subsequent military study in 2003 found that only 27 Naval ships were fitted with the Sea-RAM anti-missile defense which had performed well in tests.
The GAO study found that while,
Most importantly, the GAO study found that Navy assessments "overstates the actual and projected capabilities of surface ships to protect themselves from cruise missiles."
The GAO study's criticism of the Navy's capacity to
satisfactorily deal with cruise missile threats was vividly
illustrated in the Millennium Challenge wargames held in the summer
According to General Kernan, the wargames,
Using a range of asymmetrical attack strategies using disguised civilian boats for launching attacks, planes in Kamikaze attacks, and Silkworm cruise missiles, much of the Fifth Fleet was sunk.
The games revealed how asymmetrical
strategies could exploit the Fifth Fleet's vulnerability against
anti-ship cruise missiles in the confined waters of the Persian
In a later television interview, General Van Riper elaborated further:
Most significant was General Riper's claims of the effectiveness of the older Cruise missile technology, the Silkworm missile which were used to sink an aircraft carrier and two helicopter-carriers loaded with marines in the total of 16 ships sunk.
When asked to confirm Riper's claims, General Kernar replied:
The Millennium Challenge wargames clearly demonstrated the vulnerability of the US Fifth Fleet to Silkworm cruise missile attacks. This replicated the experience of the British during the 1980 Falklands war where two ships were sunk by three Exocet missiles. Both the Exocet and Silkworm cruise missiles were an older generation of anti-ship missile technology that were far surpassed by the Sunburn and Yakhonts missiles.
If the Millennium Challenge was a guide to an asymmetrical war with Iran, much of the U.S Fifth Fleet would be destroyed. It is not surprising Millennium Challenge was eventually scripted so that this embarrassing fact was hidden. To date, there has been little public awareness of the vulnerability of the US Fifth Fleet while stationed in the Persian Gulf.
It appears that the Bush administration
had scripted an outcome to the wargames that would promote its
neoconservative agenda for the Middle East.
Part of the neoconservative agenda is to identify and overthrow states that are opposed to the current U.S. dominated international system. After the 9-11 attacks, rogue states viewed as supporters of international terrorism were elevated into what President Bush called in his 2002 State of the Union speech the "Axis of Evil."
These originally included Iraq, Iran and
North Korea. Neoconservatives view forceful diplomacy backed by
military intervention as the price to pay for reigning in rogue
states that support terrorism. Up until the 2003 invasion, Iraq had
been the principal rogue state that was a targeted by
neoconservatives. Subsequent to the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein
and forceful multilateral diplomacy on North Korea, neo-conservative
attention has firmly shifted to Iran.
Article IV.1 of the NPT states:
The only constraint on this "inalienable right" is that states must agree not to pursue a nuclear weapons program as identified in Articles I and II of the NPT.
The Bush administration has been citing intelligence data that Iran
is secretly developing nuclear weapons and must under no
circumstances be allowed to do this.
This culminated in a
fierce debate between leading neo-conservatives such as Dick
Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, with the Joint Chiefs of
Staff which remained adamantly opposed.
Seymour Hersh in May 2006,
reported the opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Subsequent efforts by the neo-conservatives to justify a conventional military attack have been handicapped by widespread public skepticism by the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, and Iran's compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that Iran is complying with its inspection requirements.
In a statement on October 8, 2007, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, dismissed the main argument used by the Bush administration when he said,
ElBaradei went on to cite U.S. military assessments that Iran is a few years away from developing weapons grade nuclear fuel that could be used for nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration, frustrated by
the determined opposition both within the U.S bureaucracy, military
and the international community to its plans has adopted a three
pronged track strategy for its goal of 'taking out' Iran.
In a Press Conference speech on October 17, President Bush declared:
Bush's startling rhetoric was followed soon after by Vice President Cheney on October 23 who warned in a speech before the Washington Institute for Near East Studies:
Bush's and Cheney's alarming rhetoric provides political cover for Israel, which is also adamantly opposed to Iran's nuclear developments plans, to bomb its nuclear facilities.
On September 6, 2007 an elite Israeli Air Force Squadron launched a daring air raid and destroyed a secret Syrian facility that had allegedly received nuclear material from North Korea.
According to a Sunday Times report, the,
The Syrian raid was a test run for what Israel could do against Iran's nuclear facilities.
administration has been encouraging a covert Israeli military strike
against Iran given determined opposition to a U.S. led military
strike. An earlier
Sunday Times report from January 2007
exposed Israeli plans for airstrikes against Iran using nuclear
armed bunker busting weapons in the event the U.S. did not move
forward. However, the U.S. military is also opposed to a unilateral
attack by Israel which would result in a furious Iranian retaliation
against American forces.
It is highly likely that Fallon would
veto any Israeli attack on Iran, and deny it the flight codes it
requires for flying over Iraqi airspace.
Given widespread military and political opposition to attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities, the Bush administration is now depicting Iran as a supporter of terrorism in Iraq.
Seymour Hersh described the shift as follows:
The change in strategy was given a powerful boost by the passage of the Kyle-Lieberman Amendment by the U.S. Senate on September 26 which designated "the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization."
This would enable the Bush administration to authorize strikes against Iranian Revolutionary Guard facilities inside Iran on the basis that they are supporting Iraqi terrorist groups targeting U.S. military forces.
According to Hersh the shift in strategy is gaining support from among the American military. While Admiral William Fallon has privately expressed opposition to military action against Iran, the commander of U.S. forces inside Iraq, General Petraeus, supports the Bush administration's Iran policies.
Petraeus went on to claim that Iran was fighting "a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq."
Consequently, limited surgical strikes
against Revolutionary Guards facilities might be authorized by the
This is arguably best evidenced in the infamous B-52 'Bent Spear' incident on August 30, 2007 where five (later changed to six) nuclear armed cruise missiles were found en route to the Middle East for a covert mission. The nuclear warheads had adjustable yields of between 5 to 150 kilotons, and would have been ideal for use against Iran's underground nuclear facilities or in a false flag operation that would be blamed on Iran.
According to confidential sources, the covert mission involving the B-52 was to coincide with Israel's September 6 military strike against a Syrian military facility. However, Air Force personnel stood down 'illegal' orders that most likely came from the White House, and averted what could have been the detonation of one or more nuclear devices in the Persian Gulf region.
There is much evidence to believe that ultimate responsibility for the B-52 incident can be traced to the office of the Vice President.
Due to the Bush administration's
authority directly order military units to participate in covert
missions regardless of their legality, the possibility that a covert
mission will be used to provoke a war with Iran remains high.
In the naval exercises that began on Novembers 2, the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and a helicopter carrier, the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), are in the Persian Gulf simulating "a quick response to possible crises."
The size and timing of possible U.S. military attacks on Iran's nuclear and/or military facilities, will influence the speed and scale of an Iranian response. Iran's response will predictably result in a military escalation that culminates in Iran using its arsenal of anti-ship cruise missiles on the U.S. Fifth Fleet and closing off the Strait of Hormuz to all shipping.
Iran's ability to hide and launch cruise missiles from mountainous positions all along the Persian Gulf will make all Fifth Fleet ships in the Persian Gulf vulnerable.
The Fifth Fleet would be trapped and unable to escape to safer waters.
The Millennium Challenge wargames
in 2002 witnessed the sinking of most of the Fifth fleet. Less
advanced Silkworm cruise missiles, when compared to Iran's stock of
Sunburn and Yakhonts missiles, were used in a simulated asymmetric
warfare that would resemble what would occur if Iran and the U.S.
went to war. The sunk ships included an aircraft carrier, two
helicopter carriers in the total of 16 ships that were 'refloated'
in the exercise to produce a scripted outcome.
Further losses in terms of support ships
and other Fifth Fleet naval forces in the Persian Gulf would be
catastrophic. An Iranian cruise missile attack would replicate
losses at Pearl Harbor where the sinking of five ships, destruction
of 188 aircraft and deaths of 2,333 quickly led to a declaration of
total war against Imperial Japan by the U.S. Congress.
The closing of the Strait of Hormuz to
all shipping and total war conditions in the U.S. would lead to a
collapse of the world economy, and further erosion of civil
liberties in a U.S. engaged in total war.
The Bush administration has hidden from the American public the full extent of the Fifth Fleet's vulnerability, and how it could be trapped and destroyed in a full scale conflict with Iran.
This is best evidenced by the controversial decision to downplay the real results of the Millennium Challenge wargames and the dissenting views of Lt. General Van Riper over the lessons to be learned. This culminated in General Van Riper joining a group of retired generals in calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.
In a PBS interview he referred to Rumsfeld as,
The Bush administration is also
downplaying the significance of the 2000 GAO report on US Navy
vulnerability to cruise missile attacks.
The relevant section in the Kucinich bill states:
After gaining additional support from 21 members of Congress as co-sponsors, Kucinich introduce his articles of impeachment as a privileged resolution on November 6 to force a vote in the House of Representatives.
resolution was voted on and referred to the House Judiciary
Committee for further study.
A new Pearl Harbor can be averted by
making accountable Bush administration officials willing to
sacrifice the Fifth Fleet in pursuit of a neoconservative agenda.