Wednesday, April 22, 2020


It looks like the Iranian showmanship in the Persian Gulf has attracted the eye of the President. He put this out today. It couldn't be clearer and reminds me of the first set of Middle East Force Standing Orders I used to read on my first ship in the Gulf. They were required monthly reading by officers of the deck, junior officers of the deck and the combat information center watch officers. You read them and initialed the book and the Navigator and XO followed up to make sure everybody was current. In my first 12 months in MIDEASTFOR they never changed an iota and read pretty much just like this by President Trump:

As I remember the old orders, the Admiral's Standing Orders read, "I do not intend or require you to suck up the first attack. If they demonstrate hostile intent, open fire." That was one of the reasons what happened to USS Stark was so galling to me. If they'd read the orders and understood them, that never would have happened....but they obviously didn't or totally failed to understand them. They thought they were off the coast of Texas instead of patrolling  in an active war zone in a place called Radar Picket Station North. You'd think the mere name of their patrol area would have conveyed something about the dangers from armed fighter/bombers on the loose and the reason for RPS North.

The rules never changed that I recall under Joint Task Force Middle East and to be honest I never had occasion to read them when I was at NAVCENT/COMFIFTHFLT.


capt fast said...

I reckon that the USS Stark attack led to the increase in aggressive defensive posture the USN practiced later on in the gulf and contributed to the Iranian airliner shoot down by USS Vincennes. It did not not help that Iranian air forces F-14 were in the area emitting signals and that the ship was not in international waters or that other ships in the area had a differing picture of the actions in the area. I can imagine the CO of CG-49 was channeling the experience of the USS Stark and did not care to repeat it.
None of which excuses the CO of the USS Stark for losing 37 sailors lives and having 21 wounded. I understand that the USS Stark identified the attacker as a noncombatant business jet until they were lit up by targeting radars and had missiles launched well inside that systems attack envelope.
It would have served the crew well had the intelligence services notified the Navy of area combatants modifying erstwhile civilian aircraft to carry airborne weapons guidance radars and the weapons themselves. had they that level of information I doubt the crew would have acted as if they were patrolling off San Padre Island looking at the babes glistening in the sun.
I have serious doubts that the intelligence community as a whole at that time would have freely given such information out to DOD as the IC had issues with even talking to each other because of internal disputes and leaks. We in the USAF suffered losses due to lack of solid tactical information when going into a nominally low to medium threat areas doing surveillance for threat analysis. While not going in all dumb and happy, it is really surprising how bad a day can be when faced with ZSU-23/4 and SA-6 when those who knew just fucking lied their asses off to protect their sources. leaves a guy with a bad taste in the mouth.

HMS Defiant said...

One of the flaws that came to the fore in the Gulf was the utterly lacksadaisical attitude of the ships' company and COs to the reality of operating in a warzone. They did not get it after 1985. I laughed a little bit to myself when serving as deck officer on LaSalle and one of our rare escorts maneuvered somewhat violently to unmask batteries and throw white birds on the rail. What they were responding to was squawking Iran AF but it was the P3 or the C130 doing MARPAT looking for the next tanker to strike in the Gulf. Those were the two birds we were forbidden to shoot at. I don't think SSES ever called me about an F14 or any other fighter/bomber in 84/5. I got the IL3 calls out of Yemen from them but we mostly didn't get much in the way of air time on the fighter bombers back then. They hit the Safina al Arab about 3 miles from us but there was no signals intel that made it's way to either CIC or the bridge. In 88 and 89 we used to watch them racing in or back home. They'd be at just below the speed of sound and about 30 feet above the water as they went by. They were mostly Iraqi strikes but we used to see some Iranian strikes going into al Faw and the Shatt.

Stark was idiots. Vincennes were brand new in the zone and didn't have the cool that comes with repeated GQs and unmasking batteries. They got way to into a fight that didn't actually exist.

I have only the problems that a responsible naval officer has about the downing of the airbus. What was said in the press was utter garbage. Absolutely NOBODY fucked around when a gulf air defense system challenged anybody. Everybody sheered off, changed course, and squawked mightily. I think the guy at the yoke on the Iran Air flight was one of the first 'martyr's' to suicide his planeload of passengers. He wasn't the last.