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Largest ever fleet of warships mustered in Persian Gulf

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 18th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The drumbeat of war is sounding louder as Israel inches closer to the precipice. Meanwhile a massive armada of American and British warships is concentrating in the gulf, containing multiples more firepower that Iran could ever muster. Experts think this is a prelude to conflict with Israel poised to strike before November.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The US has mustered three carrier battle fleets and the British have several supporting ships including minesweepers, a new  Type 45 destroyer, and they have a second fleet ready in the Eastern Mediterranean that can arrive to support the Gulf fleets within a matter of days. That second fleet contains the French aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle and the British HMS Illustrious.

Each of the three Nimitz class carriers has more airplanes than the entire Iranian Airforce.

Ostensibly, the concentration of firepower is to conduct the largest wargames yet, as a show of force against a defiant Iranian Republic that western intelligence forces say is on the brink of developing a working nuclear weapon.

Thousands of marines and special forces troops are also on hand.

The wargames include cooperation and contributions from more than 25 nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and France.

However, the mustering of force is unusual in size, and its use as a warning to the Islamic Republic is clear. In the words of Oliver Cromwell, "A man-o'-war makes the best ambassador."

Iran has already scheduled their wargames for next month, as a response to the allied threat. Iran has modern radar installations, unmanned drones, and missiles that can shoot down aircraft and ships. Perhaps most potently, Iran has swarms of small fast attack boats ready that can be used in near-suicide attacks on allied fleets. By virtue of sheer numbers, allied casualties are assured.

So should conflict erupt, both sides can expect heavy losses with Iran losing the most. However, it would remain to be seen just how the conflict would play out over the long term. Few can say if Iran's nuclear capabilities would be damaged, now that most of their assets are sheltered in bunkers so deep no Israeli bomb can hit them, and other assets are likely dispersed where they cannot be found or hit. Iran has had plenty of time to prepare.

Still, Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. The Islamic Republic represents an existential threat to the Jewish nation as Iran's leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and their special forces have trained and supported terrorist strikes on the country.

For their part, both the US and Britain have tried very hard to persuade Israel to hold off an making any attack at all. Not only because such an attack might be costly and produce limited results, but also because it could affect the outcome of the US political elections in November.

Israel is refusing to wait because no other power has suggested what the decision point, or "red line" with Iran would be. These red lines would be automatic triggers for military action, and none have been articulated publicly. Without such assurances, Israel is now refusing to wait.

Conflict in the region is not exactly guaranteed, but one would have to be very na´ve to assume that it isn't likely. Iran still refuses to cooperate with international inspectors and demands, while Israel feels it is out of time. Committed and caught in the middle are the allied powers whose fleets must respond to any possible retaliation against oil moving through the Persian Gulf.

For now, it seems that Israel gets to decide if the wargames move forward as planned or if their contingent becomes part of a full scale combat force. One thing is certain: wargames or not, this is not a game for those at sea in the Persian Gulf.

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