The US has been taking it on the chin from the Iranians in the Persian gulf where the Iranians are using fast attack speedboats to threaten American ships. Typically a number of Iranian speedboats head toward the US vessel at high speed, circle it, and then get in front of it at with the US ship closing fast directly on the Iranian craft. Despite fog horn warnings, shooting flares and other tactics, the Iranians confront the US ship and all it can do is turn and run.
This provides the Iranians with a psychological and political victory. But it also allows them to refine tactics on how to take down an American ship in future should the Ayatollah order it. The day when one of these demonstrations turns into a bloody incident is not far off.
So what can the United States do? Pull our ships out of the Gulf, shoot the Iranians out of the water? Are we left with only these two alternatives?
The truth is that if a lone US ship fires on an Iranian speedboat, we will lost because the other speedboats (they generally come in packs of 5 or more) will shoot their missiles and guns. So that is not a good way to handle the problem.
Nor do we want to leave. That would be a humiliation of the US that would anoint Iran as the Top Dog in the Persian Gulf. Our allies will desert in droves; and our power will be significantly diminished. No US leader can accept that proposition.
But what we can do, and should, is to take the Iranian game to them. Why can’t we harass Iranian ships and chase them around the Gulf?
Of course we will need to get some high speed boats and helicopters, as well as jet fighter planes, organized to do this, but the tactic is straightforward. If the Iranians try and shoot at us under those circumstances they won’t survive.
Think how an Iranian captain of a fast attack boat will feel as an F-18 swoopes down on his ship so the captain and feel that heat of the jet exhaust, feel the rumble, and lose his hearing from the noise just overhead. Do you think he will shoot or run? Either way, we win.
It is time for us to show what we can do and let the Iranian’s know that the time of the free lunch is over. Above all, we need to change the game so they can’t use the swarming boat threat against our sailors.