By Ray Starmann
The latest capture of two US Navy high speed craft and their crews by Iran, are just another in a long line of provocations and insults by the Iranians towards the United States.
This most recent episode of Iranian sand kicked in America’s face occurred on the eve of President Barack Jimmy Carter Obama’s State of Denial speech last night.
Here’s a rundown of the official story from the Navy:
Ten U.S. sailors were taken prisoner by Iran when two small boats were patrolling near Iranian waters. The U.S. claims one of the small Riverine Command Boats experienced mechanical difficulties, strayed off course, and then disappeared from radar. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured the boats and took the sailors prisoner, accusing them of “snooping” and demanding an apology from the U.S. government.
The boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain at the time, and the Pentagon briefly lost contact with the crew. Officials said the sailors were part of the Riverine Squadron 1 based in San Diego and were deployed to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain. The Riverine boats are not considered high-tech and don’t contain any sensitive equipment, so there were no concerns about the Iranians gaining access to the crafts.
The Navy will investigate “the circumstances that led to the sailors’ presence in Iran.”
Iran’s Fars News Agency first reported the release. Fars quoted a statement by the “Islamic Revolution Guard Corps” saying Iran “has released the U.S. marines and their vessels in international waters after its investigations showed that they had gone astray during their voyage in the Persian Gulf. In its statement, the IRGC pointed out that its investigations show that the U.S. combat vessels illegal entry into Iranian water was not the result of a purposeful act,” Fars said.
Iranian officials said they had determined that malfunctioning navigation devices were responsible for what they called the “intrusion.”
“Following technical and operational investigations and in interaction with relevant political and national security bodies of the country and after it became clear that the US combat vessels’ illegal entry into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s waters was the result of an unpurposeful action and a mistake and after they extended an apology, the decision was made to release them,” the statement reported by Fars said.
“The Americans have undertaken not to repeat such mistakes,” it added, and continued, “The captured marines were released in international waters under the supervision of the IRGC Navy moments ago.”
I rarely pull out my dusty old trident, but in this case, here goes. I was a Navy SEAL officer in the 1980s, and this kind of operation (transiting small boats in foreign waters) was our bread and butter. Today, these boats both not only had radar, but multiple GPS devices, including chart plotters that place your boat’s icon right on the chart. The claim by Iran that the USN boats “strayed into Iranian waters” is complete bull$#it.
For an open-water transit between nations, the course is studied and planned in advance by the leaders of the Riverine Squadron, with specific attention given to staying wide and clear of any hostile nation’s claimed territorial waters. The boats are given a complete mechanical check before departure, and they have sufficient fuel to accomplish their mission plus extra. If, for some unexplainable and rare circumstance one boat broke down, the other would tow it, that’s why two boats go on these trips and not one! It’s called “self-rescue” and it’s SOP.
This entire situation is in my area of expertise. I can state with complete confidence that both Iran and our own State Department are lying. The boats did not enter Iranian waters. They were overtaken in international waters by Iranian patrol boats that were so superior in both speed and firepower that it became a “hands up!” situation, with automatic cannons in the 40mm to 76mm range pointed at them point-blank. Surrender, hands up, or be blown out of the water. I assume that the Iranians had an English speaker on a loudspeaker to make the demand. This takedown was no accident or coincidence, it was a planned slap across America’s face.
While many authorities believed that the US Navy personnel had a long stay in store for them in Iran, the Iranians decided to release the sailors.
A statement said that the sailors and the boats left the Iranian naval base where they had been held shortly before 9 a.m. GMT (4 a.m. EST). The nine men and one woman were later transferred ashore by Navy aircraft, while the boats continued toward Bahrain, their intended destination. There was no indication the sailors had been harmed.
In a written statement, Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iranian authorities “for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter.”
Why was John Kerry thanking the Iranians and what was he thanking them for? At best, the Navy craft strayed into Iranian waters. Any civilized country, which Iran is not, would have turned the Americans around. At worst, the Iranians did overpower our two boats.
What in the heck is Kerry thinking? The Iranians don’t deserve our thanks. They deserve a warning. That warning is simple. You pull this again and we will destroy the Revolutionary Guard garrison on Farsi Island for starters.
What exactly were the rules of engagement? If the rules of engagement allowed US ships to return fire, why didn’t they?
The Iranians know Obama is weak. The Iranians know Kerry is weak. They know the US military is weak under Obama. Furthermore, the Iranians, like many of our enemies across the world know that we are spending more time on sensitivity training and being gender neutral than training for war.
Several days ago, the Iranians fired rockets within 1500 yards of the USS Truman. It’s more than obvious our enemies do not respect us. It’s more than obvious that these provocations will continue as long as Obama or God forbid, Sanders or Hillary is elected.
In summation, we are, as an old grizzled sergeant once told me, “In deep Kimchi.”
After the Truman incident, we should have told the Iranians that if they fire anything as much as an Estes rocket within 200 miles of a US ship of war, they will lose not just a ship, but their navy.
As far as I’m concerned the Iranians still have it coming after what they did to us in 1979 and 1980. In the words of John Wayne in The Longest Day, “Send’ em to hell.”