Tuesday, March 27, 2007

U.S. Navy flexes muscles in Persian Gulf

Hooah!

From the Denver Post:

ABOARD THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS- American warplanes screamed off two aircraft carriers Tuesday as the U.S. Navy staged its largest show of force in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, launching a mammoth exercise meant as a message to the Iranians.[snip]


"If there is strong presence, then it sends a clear message that you better be careful about trying to intimidate others," said Capt. Bradley Johanson, commander of the Stennis.

"Iran has adopted a very escalatory posture with the things that they have done," he added. [snip]


F/A-18 fighter jets roared off the Stennis' flight deck all day, mounting a dozen rapid-fire training sorties against imaginary enemy ships and aircraft. A second task force with the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower also took part in the drills.

"These maneuvers demonstrate our flexibility and capability to respond to threats to maritime security," said Navy Lt. John Perkins, 32, of Louisville, Ky., as the Stennis cruised about 80 miles off the United Arab Emirates after entering the Persian Gulf overnight.

"They're showing we can keep the maritime environment safe and the vital link to the global economy open."

At the headquarters of the Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain, Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl said the maneuvers would last several days. He said U.S. warships would stay out of Iran's territorial waters, which extend 12 miles off the Iranian coast.

None of America's naval coalition partners in the region joined the maneuvers.

A French naval strike group, led by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, was operating just outside the Gulf in the Arabian Sea. But the French ships were supporting NATO forces in Afghanistan and not taking part in the U.S. maneuvers, Aandahl said.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Navy routinely conducts exercises when its forces are deployed near each other. [snip]


The war games involve more than 10,000 U.S. personnel mounting simulated attacks on enemy aircraft and ships, while hunting submarines and looking for mines.

"What it should be seen as by Iran or anyone else is that it's for regional stability and security," Aandahl said. "These ships are just another demonstration of that. If there's a destabilizing effect, it's Iran's behavior."

The U.S. drills were the latest in a series of competing American and Iranian war games. Iran conducted naval maneuvers in November and April, while in October the Navy led a training exercise aimed at blocking nuclear smuggling.

In January, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Stennis strike group was being sent to the Mideast as a warning to Iran that it should not misjudge America's resolve in the region.

Iran has grown increasingly assertive in the Persian Gulf as the U.S. military has become focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iranian officials have publicly called on America's Arab allies to shut down U.S. military bases and join Iran in a regional security alliance.


I am a serious Hawk, so you know I am happy about this, but Iran does need to be reminded of their place. Meaning, in the greater scheme of things, you better be careful.

I just wish we all could watch the exercise. I think they should televise the exercises for the American people.