Last week, Galrahn and I separately discussed the power of rumor in US warship movements. Specifically, how the rumor of an eleven warship American fleet passing through the Suez channel might affect the behavior of certain Mideast states. This week, we have a second example of this type of rumor. Two days ago a Global Post blog reported that 46 US Navy warships and 7,000 Marines were on their way to Costa Rica. Yep, you read that right, 46 ships.

The truth is more mundane. There are Marines on their way south, but not to fight. The 600 Marines are part of Operation Continuing Promise 2010, which set sail with USS Iwo Jima on July 12. USS Iwo Jima will be home to 1,600 personnel conducting medical assistance, construction, and other assistance programs in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Panama, and Suriname. Why did the Global Post misreport the story? There are many possibilities: bad fact checking, sensational reporting, etc… However, my personal favorite comes from a commenter on Daniel Lamothe’s Marine Times Blog, Battle Rattle: “Well Dan,” the commenter says, “that’s because 1 marine is worth about 700 other military fighters”.

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy, Soft Power
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  • KhakiPants

    Have any of these propagators bothered to ask what possible beef we would have with Costa Rica considering what can only be described as an armada and an invasion force?

    It seems like a very silly rumor.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    We’re invading Costa Rica?!? Man, how come I never get sent to places where there are good tax shelters?

    The 46 ships would be a trick. So would the 7,000 Jarheads.

    But the commenter is right. One Marine is worth 700 others.

  • Derrick

    Will the Dept of Defense be contacting that reporter and asking him to post the facts as well as an apology?

  • Yeah – well said Derrick !

  • Allan Atherton

    I suspect this is an exaggeration bordering on a hoax
    From 1968-1971 I was an officer aboard the helicopter carrier USS GUAM (LPH-9). It had a sister ship, the USS IWO JIMA, but perhaps the present one is a newer ship, as the GUAM became obsolete and was sunk for a reef. The GUAM was the flagship of the Caribbean fleet, and every year went down there with 1500 Marines and a couple dozen helicopters to practice amphibious assault on Vieques Island off Puerto Rico. Then the GUAM returned to North Carolina to fly off the troops and helicopters to Quantico. Every year for 4 months, the GUAM and a few escorts deployed to make port calls all around the Caribbean to show the flag. Just a few ships and their crews.
    This Costa Rica business is probably just another visit of the Caribbean fleet to a country that has invited it for the business that a port call makes. If there is some drug connection, it may be advisory conferences, but this is not an invasion. We don’t have the 46 ships and 7,000 troops to spare for this hoax.

  • Warthog

    Its not a Hoax. Embassies which have frequent port visits made by U.S. warships draft one Diplomatic Note (DIPNOE) a year or a quarter to request permission for U.S. vessels to visit the country. It is a generic note that acts as a horse blanket for all potential ships and forces that could visit for port visits, exercises, training, etc. .

    U.S. Embassy Costa Rica named every ship in our inventory (not sure about every USMC unit). An opposition party (elections just happened) member got his hands on a copy of the DIPNOTE, took it, and ran with it. The media accepted it at face value. The embassy downplayed the negative media attention. IWO JIMA was permited to enter and is wrapping a very successful first mission to Limon, Costa Rica, that was planned at former President Arias’ request.

    There is still debate about letting other deployers enter port.