Analysis

U.S. Navy Suckers Iran into Shooting Down Surplus Drone: Scores Big Intelligence Coup

Intentionally or not, in the current contest of wills with Iran, the United States is now in a dominant geo-political and military position. Intentionally or not, the United States now has the most accurate, comprehensive, intelligence on Iran’s order of battle that any adversary has ever harvested from its opponent in history. We may not have arrived at this point due to a clever plan but we are here just the same, so let me describe where “here” is.

Iran was caught seeding mines into the strait of Hormuz in, what many believe, was an attempt to stage a heroic rescue of international sailors who were victims of the instability caused by the reckless actions of the President of the United States. That plan did not survive contact when the freighters did not sink and the USS Bainbridge arrived on scene to stop the Iranians from pushing one the disabled freighters into Iranian waters.

The United States produced convincing intelligence fingering Iranian Revolutionary Guard units as the originators of the mines which Iran dismissed out of hand. Then a tense situation went hair trigger when the Iranians shot down a U. S. Navy drone inside the straits of Hormuz. This was not just any drone, it was a RQ-4N BAMS-D (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator) an experimental precursor to the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton. There were four of these demonstrators (made from old first generation drones) refurbished for the MQ-4C program which is now complete and the demonstrators were scheduled for the scrap yard.

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It is amazing what you can find on the internet.

I am not sure why a demonstrator drone, destined for the bone yard, was sent from the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River to the Persian Gulf. But I know what I would do with a surplus drone designed to fly well below normal drone ceilings and big enough to look like a jet on radar. First, to honor the innate common sense of the British people I would name the drone Droney McDroneface. I’m serious, this is a tribute to Boaty McBoatface the name chosen by the British people for their brand Arctic research. The British Government, being dicks about it, would not allow the that name but did allow one of the research drones to be called Boaty McBoatface but us McBoatface purists do not recognize this naming as legitimate.

After anointing the first American Cyber Rambo with a proper name I would run Droney into the teeth of the Iranian air defense system. That way I could watch and record what they do, how they acquire my drone, how long it takes them to close with that drone, and after closing, how long before the pilot was allowed to go weapons free and shoot it down?

The United States had most of this intelligence already, what more could they have learned from running a drone at the Iranians? They could have found a way into Iran’s missile control systems.

That kind of granular intelligence about a potential enemies air defense systems is priceless and it cannot be generated any other way. The Iranians said our drone flew into their airspace, we say it was over international waters, I say if we didn’t run the drone deep into Iranian airspace we are idiots. Who cares what Iran said about the drone track, they would claim it was in their airspace regardless. We know they lie as a matter of principal in affairs of this nature; as do we. That is how the game of international outrage is played.

Following the script of the traditional Middle East North Africa (MENA) Kubuki Theater (a.k.a  diplomacy) play book President Trump launched a retaliatory strike with air and rocket assets. Congress and the media immediately played their assigned roles by preemptively declaring that congress must authorize any military conflict with Iran. The bi-partisan duo of Matt Gaetz (R Fl.) and Ro Khanna (D Ca) are correct on this point. They are referring to the War Powers Act passed in by congress in 1973 and never used since.

We have been fighting around the world for 18 years, in every clime and every place, with a continuing resolution passed by George Bush in 2001. Why all do these congressmen suddenly want to get involved with military strikes in the middle east? We’ve been dropping bombs and droning people non-stop there for 18 years and now they care?

Congress has removed itself from the oversight of our military by refusing to do the work required, by law, to get proper authorizations for the use of military force. How many times did former SecDef Mattis and the CJCOS General Dunford plead during congressional testimony that they would welcome and, in fact need, congress to do its job in that respect? The question answers itself while amplifying, to the American public, serial congressional incompetence at a vital function they assigned themselves with the War Powers Act over forty years ago.

Then, in a blink of an eye, just as the 2020 contenders had registered their moral outrage at the President performing his role in their Kubuki Theater, he off -foots them. Hard. How well have these virtue signalling  statements aged?

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted that “there is no justification” for escalating tensions with Iran. “Donald Trump promised to bring our troops home. Instead he has pulled out of a deal that was working and instigated another unnecessary conflict,” she wrote. “There is no justification for further escalating this crisis — we need to step back from the brink of war.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, an Iraq War veteran, tweeted that war with Iran is “HIGHLY likely unless Trump swallows his pride & returns to the Iran nuclear agreement he tore up,” referring to the Obama-era pact.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Trump was “governing by chaos” and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said a potential war with Iran “would be a disaster.”
“Congress must assert its constitutional authority and stop Trump from going to war,” Sanders tweeted.

Concurrent with the feint raid was a real cyber attack that knocked out all the Iranian missile control systems. This, I firmly believe, is a direct result of the sacrifice of Droney McDroneface. When Droney lured the Iranians into shooting him, her, or it down they showed us a way into their control systems. Missile control systems are closed loops; there is only one way in and once we found that the goose was cooked. As Richard Fernandez observers in this  Belmont Club post:

A successful cyberattack inflicts considerable financial damage on the target, rendering vital equipment inoperable. It costs money to diagnose the damage, patch it and test the fix. Before the system can be restored it would be necessary to ensure there was no residual malware. Although Iran has denied any damage to its missiles the unbridled fury of their public response indirectly confirms they are hurt.

There is another unique aspect to a cyber attack — they produce no pictures.

Pictures cause problems, and right now President Trump has no problems. Had he gone with traditional strike package he would have big problems from the pictures of dead kids caught in collateral damage. If we had not caused the collateral damage casualties the Iranians would have done so themselves.  That is how the Iranians play the game and we have known that for decades.

It gets even better because President Trump has used this crisis to conduct serious diplomacy in his unique style:

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In every international crisis yet to confront the Trump administration, one of the first points he makes is he’d rather make a deal then have a fight. The President is announcing to the world one of those inconvenient truths that ruin the legacy media narrative. The United States does not need a drop of oil from the Middle East, as we are now the largest producer in the world. What’s more, we became the largest oil producer in the world despite, not because of, our federal government. That is a point for foreign governments to ponder, there is not another country on earth that could do the same.

There is also not another country on earth that can patrol the worlds sea lanes to ensure commerce moves unhindered upon the high seas. For the past 70 years, the United States has willingly borne the burden as the hegemon by maintaining a large, professional, exorbitantly expensive military capable or world wide deployment on short notice. This has not made us popular on the world stage and despite the obvious free rider problem with allies who do not pay their share our country has “borne every burden” and is it now time to ask why?

Iran just got a good taste of the Trump Doctrine and what has that cost them? Untold millions of dollars and man-hours to replace and repair their missile control system, which means? They are now Open Kimono. They know we know their air defense system inside and out and that their missile control systems are down hard. If we struck now there is not one damn thing they could do about it. They know it, we know it, and now you know it.

As an aside, the term Open Kimono vis-a-via Iran was introduced to me by Jeff Kenney of the world famous All Marine Radio weekly Lynch & Kenny show. When Jeff retired in 2016, he was the longest-serving Marine on active duty. When you hear him go off on a rant, you won’t believe how someone who served for so long (41 years) can be so funny.

Jeff and I spend about an hour each week with Mike “Mac” McNamara who hosts All Marine Radio. The three of us were instructors at the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course in the early 1990’s. As is typical with infantry officer we bumped into each other repeatedly in the ensuing years in places like Okinawa, Baghdad, and Jalalabad.

Afghanistan has recently surrendered the cherished institution of official corruption called “The Checkpoint.” As I pointed out in my last post, this is a potential game changer. Why, after 18 years of resistance, did Afghanistan choose to do away with the checkpoints? Who knows, maybe it is just coincidence, but I smell the makings of a deal because Afghanistan had to give Trump something to make him stay. The only “something” he has asked for is movement on corruption.

It could be a coincidence that the one thing Trump has asked for is actually happening in Afghanistan. It could be a coincidence that in the only confrontation with a foreign power, with shots already fired, he won without firing a kinetic shot. It could be a coincidence that the one drone Iran shot down was past its service life and heading for the junk yard.

This could be a coincidence, or it could be a response to pressure on the supply of 90% of their oil:

SEOUL (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping said in an op-ed in North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Wednesday that China supports North Korea’s “correct direction” in politically resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula.

The front-page op-ed is an honor rarely granted to foreign leaders and comes a day before Xi is set to visit Pyongyang on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, making him the first Chinese leader to visit in 14 years.

Yesterday, President Trump became the first American President to set foot in North Korea. That too may be a coincidence. But the coincidences are piling up and all of them favor President Trump.

 

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susanh
Member
susanh

Fascinating. Thanks so much, Tim. “Droney McDroneface” Love it!

I hope Maximus is still ruling the world!

Susan B
Member
Susan B

Really enjoying your views on current events in that area of the globe, Tim. I’m glad you are giving the credit that I also believe Trump deserves on how he’s orchestrating things.

Mason
Member
Mason

I find it extremely hard to believe that Trump was the author of this action from start to finish, meaning the feint within a feint to launch a cyber attack. However, I have been surprised at every turn how this is turning out, in other words I have been proven wrong, oh so wrong . . . and I am glad. To date, I think how this is unfolding is like an entirely different view of Trump for me. Maybe I have been wrong, maybe he isn’t going to push the button, maybe just maybe, he is listening to, and… Read more »

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