Archive for June, 2010

We Southerners are a suspicious lot at the core. For some silly reason, we always look askance when things happen in threes; and so, with General McChrystal and Rolling Stone, we have the third Four-Star seduced into a damning vanity piece. Two of them resulted in the implosion of a career, the other just survived with an insult. Let’s review.

First, something that should be in GOFO 101. From a man all Southerners love to hate as much as they respect,

“I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.”
—- General William Tecumseh Sherman

That should be the core instinct of all Generals and Admirals, as if kept close to the heart would keep reporters at a proper distance. If kept at a proper distance, it would help mitigate the following problem.

Unless they make a special effort to remain humble and recruit a Staff that will keep them that way, a General or Admiral will find himself in an almost god like position where he can do no wrong and is surrounded by those who will remind him of that on a regular basis. That causes you to let your guard down and assume that everyone you speak with has less power than you and therefor is no threat to you.

Additionally, all men are weak. All men have a natural desire for attention and adulation. The press are often the medium through which you can get attention – have more people become aware of your name and importance. Reporters know this. They are persistent, they are persuasive, they will play what ever angle they need to in order to get a story. Though they may seem to be interested in you, they are only interested in you the same way my dog is interested in my ability to transport my cheese toast from the toaster to table. They follow closely, watch with exceptional focus – waiting for a mistake.

Reporters are not your fans. They are not your friends. They have a paycheck to earn. They have their own desire to see their names in front of millions of people. They don’t care about your goals, your plans, your Commander’s Intent. They care about getting a story.

All this is well known. Why then in the last three years have we seen Admiral Fallon, Admiral Mullen, and now General McChrystal fall into the media vanity trap? Simple. They forgot their place.

Let’s review; Admiral Fallon was taken down by a horribly written puff-piece in Esquire by someone who should know better, Thomas P.M. Barnett.

Though he came through the affair only looking silly with his “don’t look at my schedule – I believe in Life/Work Balance” mixed messages, Admiral Mullen was photoshopped by Fast Company magazine to look like Bogart’s LCDR Queeg -no mistake there.

Now we have General McChrystal taken down by – yes – Rolling Stone magazine all because he forgot who he was and what the nature of a reporter is.

What do all three mistakes have in common? Simple. Vanity. Non-mission related, non-value added vanity that degraded or destroyed the “brand” of men who gave decades of service to their nation and rose to its highest levels.

Esquire, Fast Company, Rolling Stone.

Really? A nation at war for a decade. A global war. STRATCOM & PAO guys help me out here. How do these help? Who did the risk analysis?

In the end though, that isn’t fair. It is the Admiral and the General that agree to this – and say what they say – who are responsible.

Everyone learn. More Sherman – less Fallon, Mullen, & McChrystal.

It isn’t about you. It is about the nation you serve and the service members you lead.

In the Stephen Spielberg World War II masterpiece Saving Private Ryan, Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) speaks to one of his young soldiers about the tenets of leadership. Captain Miller tells Private Rybman (Edward Burns) that leaders “gripe up, not down”. That a Ranger officer doesn’t gripe to a private; in fact a Ranger officer doesn’t gripe IN FRONT of a private soldier.

In the next few weeks and months, much will be written of the ill-advised and damaging interview granted by Commander NATO/ISAF/USFOR-A General Stanley McChrystal to Rolling Stone magazine. I have not had time to read and digest the interview in its entirety, but I have read enough to find significant alarm in what I saw.

General McChrystal disagreed with policy from officials of the Obama Administration regarding US policy in Afghanistan. Nobody seriously considering events should be surprised or particularly distressed by this. At the level of strategic decision-making, commanders are not merely “three bags full” executors of policy, but participants in the shaping of that policy through their knowledge, expertise, viewpoint, and judgment of National Military Strategy as an element of National Security Strategy.

Much of what General McChrystal takes issue with regarding Administration policy in theater may be valid observations and empirically correct, and it may not be. This can be debated separately, and certainly will be in hindsight. If the two viewpoints, the General’s, and that of the White House, were so fundamentally different as to be truly irreconcilable, then General McChrystal would have the choice that so many junior to him face, which is to salute smartly and carry out orders he knows to be wrong, or to leave the United States Army.

General McChrystal chose to do neither. He chose to publicly criticize those elected and appointed officials whose orders he swore to obey. What is worse, he did so in a way that clearly personally belittles those officials. And his attitude toward those officials, including the Vice President of the United States, was apparently no secret.

The aside comments of the General and his staff regarding Vice President Joe Biden are disrespectful in the extreme. It is bad enough that General McChrystal personally commented in such a manner, but his lack of respect and decorum was shared openly by his staff. The same situation existed regarding comments about Ambassadors Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrook, and retired Marine General James Jones, the National Security Advisor. Each was publicly disparaged by General McChrystal and his staff. One can only wonder what was said among that staff out of earshot of the press.

I am sure to get much disagreement on this next point, but in my mind General McChrystal’s most serious offense was revealing his “disappointment” with his President, “even though he had voted for him”. If a man with thirty-four years of commissioned service doesn’t understand why such a statement is so egregiously inappropriate, there is little in my limited vocabulary to enlighten.

I don’t agree with the assertions of some that Military Officers, especially senior ones, should refrain from voting. I know Admiral Burke and General Marshall did not vote, as they believed doing so would politicize them. I believe officers, ALL officers, should vote. It is their civic duty, and a sacred right preserved for them by the sacrifice of others. However, that vote is done in secret for a reason. And while that officer is in uniform or executing official duties, that vote should have no bearing whatever on how they execute those duties and responsibilities. Their statements, all of them, while wearing a uniform, are a matter of public record, and a reflection of both their personal leadership and the honor and tradition of the service to which they belong.

It is with no small concern that I have watched that assertion be set aside of late, as uniformed senior leadership has felt free to expound on personal beliefs in political matters.

Marine General Peter Pace, serving as CJCS, in March of 2007 expressed his personal views on the morality of homosexuality, for which he received much justified criticism. Admiral Mike Mullen, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also expressed, unsolicited, his personal views on homosexuals serving openly in the Armed Forces before official questioning began while testifying before Congress. To be clear, both men had an absolute right to their respective personal views, but it was exceedingly imprudent for either to have declared those views publicly in an official capacity. Such transgressions regarding expressing personal views encourage LTG Mixon’s actions in Hawaii, and the conduct of the Commander of USFOR-A.

General McChrystal has a right to his personal political views. They are his, and his alone. When they disagree with the orders and policy he is instructed to carry out, his choices are clear. Instead, he chose to let those personal views, and disdain for those elected and appointed officials who disagreed with him, shape the tenor of his discourse with his seniors, and most inexcusably, his juniors. He has failed at the very basics of leadership that Captain Miller explains so frankly to his young soldier.

So, the Commander in Chief has little choice but to accept General McChrystal’s resignation, should that late story be confirmed. If the President were not to do so, he risks the skewing of the civilian-military relationship that is a cornerstone of our personal and collective liberties, much as Truman would have done in failing to discipline General MacArthur in Korea six decades ago. The situation with General McChrystal leaves President Obama with another, very dicey problem. Who will be putting hands in the air to command in a theater where the strategy and policy have been so publicly discredited by a senior General Officer? And whomever is chosen, what will be the effect of a new commander dropping onto the scene just before a key offensive that may determine the long-term success of the US effort in Afghanistan?


Roosevelt Diplomacy

June 2010


The Navy was in the Drudge red ink headlines early on Monday morning as a report claims that “Egypt allowed at least one Israeli and 11 American warships to pass through the Suez Canal.” Clearly I have become too cynical, because an a Naval analyst frustrated with the numerical decline in US Navy ship numbers and force structure decisions of the last decade – the first question that popped into my mind was…

Is it even possible for the US Navy to transit the Suez Canal with 11 warships during peacetime?

After doing a bit of research as to what the report could mean, I offer the following facts and possibilities.

The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group did indeed cross the Suez Canal on Friday, however this has also been expected for some time. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) carrier strike group deployed on January 2nd, 2010 and would be returning home soon from their 6 month deployment. It wasn’t a question of if the Harry S Truman strike group would cross the Suez canal to replace the Eisenhower, only when. The Eisenhower group also consists of the USS Hue City (CG 66), USS Carney (DDG 64), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Farragut (DDG 99). With the whole strike group set to pull out of the 5th fleet area, it was expected the Truman strike group would move in and replace.

The Harry S Truman carrier strike group is one of the Navy’s largest strike groups (has been each of its last two deployments), this time with 6 escorts; USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), and the German frigate FGS Hessen (F221). The day after the Truman CSG was reported to have crossed the Suez Canal, FGS Hessen (F221) completed duties with the strike group and detached (after making the transit though).

So where are the other 4 warships, and who might they be?

One possibility is the USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) could be on its way to replace USS Cole (DDG 67), which has been serving in an anti-piracy role for NATO Standing Maritime Group -2 off Somalia. USS Cole (DDG 67) deployed on Feb 8, 2010, but it would not be uncommon for a US ship on a NATO SNMG patrol to spend at least some time – the remaining month or so – in the Mediterranean Sea. Close contact with our NATO allies is what these patrols are for, afterall.

Another could be the USS Elrod (FFG 55). Deployed on May 14th the ship made a drug bust off Morocco just two weeks into her deployment.

With USS Taylor (FFG 50) in Albania and most of the US Navy ships operating for the 6th fleet participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010, there are no other “US warships” deployed that could get the total to 11, which means either the count is wrong or the ships were not warships, rather support or replenishment vessels.

It doesn’t matter. From the standpoint of public diplomacy the Obama administration is enjoying the century old practice of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. When a single US aircraft carrier and 6-8 escorts transit the Suez Canal in broad daylight for Egyptian soldiers to witness – Roosevelt diplomacy is leveraged. It is the story of politics going back to before Athens and Sparta that a fleet of warships could get the attention of other states – and at the same time send a message that was both clear and ambiguous.

In this case the paper writers, blogs, editorials, and commentators carry the concerns of Iranian nuclear program as part of their description of the hidden meaning behind the movements. Since there are several US Navy ships into their 5th month of their 6th month deployments, the reality for the transit is all too obvious as the natural cycle of naval rotations. With that said, the sheer firepower and capability of even a single US Navy aircraft carrier will naturally lead to more creative headlines – which in and of itself represents a powerful diplomacy that only the United States enjoys as the worlds only superpower.

But the unfortunate reality is… the answer to the question asked above is NO. That powerful diplomatic capability in the spirit of Roosevelt for the United States is no longer real. There were not 11 US Navy warships, indeed under the best case at least three of those warships were foreign, phantom, or unarmed. The US Navy today is in numerical decline, and the reason is primarily because it is the choice of our nations Navy and political leaders to reduce the size of the US Navy fleet. When Gates looks to the post Afghanistan war era, he discusses recapitalizing the Army – for the next land war in Asia no doubt, and ignores the lessons of history regarding the link between a strong Navy and being a strong global economic power.

Enjoy the headlines of phantom fleets making phantom threats to bad actors internationally while it lasts, because we are only about a decade away from any headline proclaiming “12 US Navy warships” doing anything together during peacetime becoming a story of fiction.

Indeed, we appear to already live in a time when such headlines are fiction.


Stay Tuned!

June 2010


Seems the Israelis are reporting something a bit out of the ordinary. Whether this is what they speculate it to be is too early to tell. But it bears watching.

Egypt allowed at least one Israeli and 11 American warships to pass through the Suez Canal as an Iranian flotilla approaches Gaza. Egypt closed the canal to protect the ships with thousands of soldiers, according to the British-based Arabic language newspaper Al Quds al-Arabi.

One day prior to the report on Saturday, Voice of Israel government radio reported that the Egyptian government denied an Israeli request not to allow the Iranian flotilla to use the Suez Canal to reach Gaza, in violation of the Israeli sea embargo on the Hamas-controlled area.International agreements require Egypt to keep the Suez open even for warships, but the armada, led by the USS Truman with 5,000 sailors and marines, was the largest in years. Egypt closed the canal to fishing and other boats as the armada moved through the strategic passageway that connects the Red and Mediterranean Seas.

Despite Egypt’s reported refusal to block the canal to Iranian boats, the clearance for the American-Israeli fleet may be a warning to Iran it may face military opposition if the Iranian Red Crescent ship continues on course to Gaza.

You gotta admit, CVNs can be damned handy doo-dads to have around when you need ’em.

Command at Sea.

What does it mean, how do you do it, what does it takes to succeed – and more importantly – what are the responsibilities of Command at Sea?

Join fellow USNI blogg’r EagleOne and me today at 5pm EST for a wide ranging discussion with three present or former Navy and Coast Guard Commanding Officers on the nature of Command.

Our guests will be; CDR E. A. Westfall, CDR, USCG, Commanding Officer of the USCGC ESCANABA (WMEC 907). CDR James H. Ware, Commanding Officer, VAQ-135. CDR Michael Junge, USN, former Commanding Officer of the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41).

Join us live if you can and pile in with the usual suspects in the chat room during the show where you can offer your own questions and observations to our guests. If you miss the show or want to catch up on the shows you missed – you can always reach the archives at blogtalkradio – or set yourself to get the podcast on iTunes.

Just as a side note, if you joined us in the past and the audio quality made you feel like you were on HF VOX at dusk, well we’ve upgraded our switchboard and the sound quality is greatly improved. We hope to see you there.

Posted by CDRSalamander in Podcasts | 1 Comment

It is really quite something to start a Naval career reading blogs, and four short years later find oneself amongst the names of those you read. Admittedly it is intimidating, as well as an honor and distinction to be counted among them. I hope that you all will find my future posts interesting. Thank you to everyone at USNI for having me aboard.

YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

When, even in a political context, is it fair game to criticize a President in a time of war in his role as CINC? Is this a good thing? Is this a healthy thing? Does the CINC own the war he wages, or does his nation?

As for the middle two questions above, the answer is both yes and no; it all depends on the context. In a Representative Republic such as ours, criticism of public officials is an essential cleansing agent and self-correcting mechanism. It ensures flawed policies are discovered and mistakes corrected, and it assists weak policies to be strengthened.

There is a problem with criticism when the motivation for criticism is not to point out areas for improvement, but to destroy one domestic political entity strictly to strengthen another.

When a nation is involved in war, when non-value added criticism divides a nation against itself for political advantage, then the whole national enterprise’s effort is weakened. We have that problem now in Afghanistan, and it is getting worse – both parties are to blame.

During the previous administration, the political and media classes of this nation re-started a bad political play for a nation at war: the integration of party politics and the political personalization.

President George Washington did not like party politics – and for good reason. Though perhaps a necessary evil, in his farewell address – among other warnings – came this.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

Of course this isn’t new. The election of 1864 makes what we do now look tame, but does not excuse our behavior. At recent example of today’s version of what Washington warned us about can be found in the infamous Rockefeller Memo. Sadly, on both sides of the political aisle – this cancerous activity did not end when the Democrats took the White House in 2008.

From the start of this present conflict, I did not like the personalization of this conflict in the person of the President; pro or con. I still refer to this as The Long War. It will last multiple Presidents for many decades. We cannot wage this war on election cycles and expect to win.

After his victory in 2008’s election, President Obama had an opportunity to mitigate the interplay between national security and domestic politics. You can never get rid of it, but it needed to be decreased after the disgraceful overheating from 2003-2008. Our nation would be better for it. The foundation was there, and in many ways I think the instinct was as well; SECDEF Gates was kept on from President Bush’s administration. Old habits die hard though, and that did not happen. No, instead we got “the Obama surge in Afghanistan.”

Let’s review some fundamentals on the plan being executed in AFG now. The strategy, though revised as all plans are, predates President Obama and General McChrystal. Fact.

The pedigree is clear; the shortcomings identified by General McNeill in “NewWar” (smaller, lighter forces laden with caveat-encumbered allied forces leavened with wishful thinking and Tiffany Theories) combined with the lessons of Iraq – resulted in General McKiernan’s “Shape-Clear-Hold-Build” COIN strategy and the uplift of USA forces in AFG starting in mid-08. The concept development of Uncle Sam taking back the keys from NATO – the latest chapter being the creation of Regional Command Southwest – can be traced back to late 2007. Even “AfPak” predated the present administration.

I grudgingly accepted the new administration’s desire to “get their stink” on the plan in early 2009 – after all they needed to remove all the political mud thrown at the enduring AFG challenge, often by their own party, during the rule of the previous administration – but on balance, like the SECDEF, the plan is fundamentally unchanged.

In the last year, we have seen from both sides of the aisle a repeat of the “AFG is Obama‘s War” mantra. No, it is American’s War. It is the West’s War.

Because the political parties decided to continue the personalization of our Nation’s war, the inevitable has happened. As President Obama’s domestic political standing starts to wobble and he starts to show significant weakness, politicians are doing what they have a habit of doing – looking for any weapon to attack him. From the Left and the Right, they see the Obama Stamp on an item, and they grab it and attack it. The Left want him to leave now; the Right wants him to move the knob to 11.

Sadly, the AFG campaign now has an Obama sticker on it. The Obama Administration is not blameless in this – any fair minded person has to admit that they are at least 51% responsible for the personalization of AFG, and it didn‘t have to be that way. Remember the previous Administration‘s mantra? “I will follow the best advice from my Commanders on the Ground?” They should have picked that up, but they haven’t. As a matter of fact – with their immature “Smarter” spin, they are even more entwined with it. They could have turned a de-personlization of the conflict to political advantage, but they blew it to their detriment and ours.

Infuriating, we now have this;

Downbeat news reports and second-guessing in Congress about the course of the war in Afghanistan have touched a nerve in the Pentagon, where some worry the negativity is undercutting public sentiment before President Barack Obama’s strategy even has a chance to work.Defense Secretary Robert Gates is among those to privately voice concerns about a wave of pessimism that they believe stems partly from embedding journalists solely with military units in Afghanistan’s south, where fighting is fiercest. Some officials talk of changes to make embeds go elsewhere too.

As I warned over at my homeblog – the timeline of JUL 11 and the resulting STRATCOM cross-messaging is a Strategic blunder on multiple levels.

The Pentagon’s growing sensitivities put a spotlight on what some see as increasingly shaky support for a six-month-old war strategy that hinges on surging U.S. forces into the restive south, heartland of the Taliban, before starting a gradual withdrawal in July 2011, conditions permitting.Asked in a Senate hearing on Tuesday whether he still supported beginning a withdrawal in July 2011 given recent setbacks in the south, General David Petraeus, who oversees the Afghan war as head of U.S. Central Command, said: “I support the policy of the president.”

But he added: “In a perfect world … we have to be very careful with timelines.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering – I am not this source – though I think we have the same background. Maybe this guy is a Salamander reader?

But some top military officials say they won’t really know whether the counterinsurgency strategy is working or not until next summer, around the time Obama hopes to begin a draw down.”It’s a war. It’s not a political campaign,” one military official said. “The negativity (in the press and in Congress) can go too far. There are parts of Afghanistan that aren’t going well. It’s a mixed bag.”

SECDEF gets it too.

Gates let his frustrations show last week after a meeting with NATO ministers in Brussels.”I, frankly, get a little impatient with some of the coverage because of the lack of historical context,” he told reporters, noting that the 30,000-troop surge ordered by Obama in December was only now beginning to be felt on the ground.

“So as far as I’m concerned, this endeavor began in full, and reasonably resourced, only a few months ago,” he said.

Strategic patience. That is what we need. What we also need is the Obama Administration and members of both parties in Congress to back off. De-personalize and de-politicize as much as practical. Stop saying that the 30,000 is Obama’s surge. It was planned by the military prior to Obama taking office. It is America’s surge. Give the military the time – the Strategic patience – it needs to finish the job. This can be done.

Oh, that is from one to three decades BTW. Will someone please beat that into the head of Geoff Morrell please? He isn’t helping anyone but the Taliban with talk like this. This isn’t a political campaign ….. and oh; don’t go into comments and quote Carl to me – read him in the original German if you want to know what he is talking about. Here is Geoff giving prima facie evidence that he needs a new job.

“While I understand the fact that there have been developments, such as the increase in casualties, that would cause concern, there also needs to be a recognition that we know and warned this fight was going to get harder before it got easier,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

“We do expect, by the end of the year, we’ll be able to show that they are making progress,” Morrell said. “Let’s at least allow them the next six months to prove that General McChrystal’s strategy will work.”

Six months? What is his Operational Planning training, Risk? Somehow, we need to get back to fundamentals. And yes, I am repeating myself – for a reason. Some things need repeating 2, 3, a thousand times.

Though not always true, this plan was developed and is being executed via the best military advice in response to the direction and guidance by the Commander in Chief. Though there have been modifications on the edges and a natural adjustment as we move forward – the fundamental plan in place has been with us through two administrations. It is a good plan and the right plan. Sure, there are some good points about how to perhaps better execute it in places – but that is an Operational and Tactical issue.

This plan will need to be in place for many more administrations, from both parties. It is in the interest of the military and this nation to back away from personalization and politicization. We endanger our own Center of Gravity – the support of the American People – if we do not.

Is there a place for criticism? Absolutely. Criticism and hard questions are essential to make sure the best plan is there. Where does it go to far? When it gets mindless in pursuit of partisan politics.

There are two places where the CINC is 100% fair game during a time of war; those appointments at the highest levels that he makes to run the conflict at the Strategic and Operational Levels, and his direct intervention in sound military policy.

His top appointment that are at the Operational and Strategic levels WRT AFG? Gen. McChrystal and Gen. Petraeus? ADM Stavridis? No complaints there.

Sound military policy? Well, LBJ’s micro-managing of the air war in Vietnam is one example of bad – and this “JUL 2011” is another. If the CINC’s critics want a legitimate topic to attack the President’s conduct of the war – that is your target. That is fixable – as you hear SECDEF Gates and others trying to do as they look for a face-saving path for the CINC to back away from his comments.

The rest of the attacks on the conduct of the war in AFG? Shipmate – that ain’t President Obama; that is the military.

According to the May issue of Marine News:

Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc. is in final negotiations for a two-boat contract for 180-ft multi-role security vessels. This vessel is based on Horizon’s 170-ft and 182-ft fast crew supply boats delivered in 2008 and 2009. The MRSV will be constructed of aluminum and is envisioned to be powered by four Cummins Q-60 diesel engines driving four Hamilton waterjets. Armed with machine guns and a 25mm bow mounted rapid-fire cannon, the MRSV will patrol the waters surrounding offshore oil fields, protecting them from terrorists, pirates and other threats. Armor plating will envelop the house as well as vital machinery spaces to protect the vessel from small arms fire. The MRSV will be capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots and will accommodate eight passengers in addition to the crew.

I don’t know who the negotiations are with, but I think this is an excellent idea (as you might learn from visiting here, Multi-Purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels, Department of Cheaper Pirate Fighting, Department of Crazy Ideas: How about a cheap inshore fleet? and all the links therein).

Top drawing is from Marine News article and shows armed vessel. Lower photos are from Horizon Shipbuilding and show their 175′ and 182′ fast crew supply vessels.

Looks like they would be perfect pirate and inshore patrol craft.

At the end of May, IDF soldiers boarded a flotilla of activist ships attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. During the boarding, nine activists on the largest ship, Mavi Marmara, died. In the wake of the deadly incident the arab street expressed outrage. Governments in the region were quick to exploit the anti-Israeli public sentiment. Turkey’s Prime Minister even suggested he might break the blockade himself, escorted by the Turkish military. However unlikely, the statement garnered him a surge in popularity amongst his countrymen and Palestinian supporters.

Iran has also attempted to use the media attention to boost its popularity. Initially, Iran hinted at sending the Revolutionary Guard to escort convoys, but after that was rejected by Hamas the idea was dropped. Now, Iran has taken a different approach. Over the last few days, two Iranian ships carrying food, construction supplies, and toys left port in the latest attempt to run the blockade of Gaza. The flotilla was organized by the Iranian Red Crescent Society. Iranian officials have confirmed that the Revolutionary Guard will not be escorting the blockade runners.

This is not the first time Iran has sent an aid ship to Gaza. In 2009, an Iranian ship carrying food and medical supplies was blocked from docking in Gaza by the Israeli Navy and from docking in el-Arish by the Egyptian Navy. However, given new political climate after the last flotilla raid, these new blockade runners will in all likelihood make a more concerted effort to make it to Gaza’s shores, forcing Israel to again use a heavy hand.

With a budget squeeze looming, CNO Admiral Roughead says it’s time to ask provocative questions…Well, here’s one: Is it time to shrink the Navy Chaplain Corps?

Here’s one answer.

What provocative questions are you asking to help save the Navy? Let us at the USNI Blog know.


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