09 January 2008

Iranian Belligerence

Iranian speed-boats harassed U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf three days ago. From CENTCOM:

Following a routine transit through the Strait of Hormuz Jan. 6, three U.S. Navy ships operating in international waters in the Persian Gulf were approached by five Iranian small boats that demonstrated irresponsible confrontational behavior near the U.S. ships.

U.S. Navy ships USS Port Royal (CG 73), USS Hopper (DDG 70) and USS Ingraham (FFG 61) were steaming in formation at approximately 8 a.m. as they finished a routine Strait of Hormuz transit when five boats, suspected to be from the Islamic Republic of Iran Revolutionary Guard Navy (IRGCN), maneuvered aggressively in close proximity of the Hopper.

Following standard procedure, Hopper issued warnings, attempted to establish communications with the small boats and conducted evasive maneuvering.
Considering that what happened to the USS Cole in 2000, the Iranians had to be aware that small watercraft would be seen as a threat if acting in an aggressive manner. They may have been trying to gauge what response the U.S. Navy would give, or they may have just been trying to create an incident.

The media may have lost interest with the region due to a lack of opportunity to push their doom-and-gloom, and with their focus now on the political primaries, it's not surprising that this was nothing more that a quick note before moving on to other stories. Had our Navy needed to use force to ensure the safety of our ships, however, I think that this would have been covered much more intensely. Hints and allegations of trying to start a war with Iran would likely have surfaced, along with suggestions that the incident was an attempt to take our focus off of domestic issues in order to help Republicans.

Is that too jaded? Maybe, but I'm glad we didn't need to find out this time. Our Sailors and Marines weren't harmed, the Iranians didn't get any propaganda out of this, and the pundits didn't get to spin it. On many levels, it's good that our Navy didn't need to escalate any further than they did.


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