The US Navy has a missile problem in the Red Sea

“The US Navy has a missile problem. A shortage of its best SM-6 missiles – multipurpose weapons that can sink ships, hit targets on land and intercept aircraft and other missiles – could doom its fleet. Missiles are being expended at a high rate in the current Red Sea fighting against the Iranian-backed Houthis of Yemen. What good are the Navy’s 85 destroyers and cruisers if they can’t shoot?
A little industrial ingenuity could end the crisis, however. Defense firm Lockheed Martin is proposing to arm Navy ships with a missile that normally launches from land: the US Army’s Patriot.

The Patriot is a deadly accurate munition, as Ukrainian and Russians forces have learned. The hard way, in the Russians’ case. But its main advantage over the Navy’s best SM-6 missile is that Lockheed makes a lot of them.

On paper, the US fleet is a giant floating missile magazine. Each of 72 destroyers sails with as many as 96 vertical missile cells. A cruiser – the Navy has 13 of them – has 122 cells. Each cell can fire various weapons such as an SM-2 surface-to-air missile or a Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile. But the best weapon that fits in the so-called “vertical launch system” is the SM-6.

The 22-foot, 3,300-pound SM-6 is the Navy’s only omni-role missile. Thanks to its sensitive built-in radar, it works equally well against targets on the sea, on land and in the air out to a range of 150 miles or farther. It’s even able to offer a defense against incoming hypersonic weapons.

But the SM-6 is complex. For a decade now, the Navy has been paying Raytheon to build 125 of the missiles per year at a cost of slightly more than $4 million per missile; the fleet has around 600 in stock. The production rate should increase slightly in the coming years.

Even taking into account the fleet’s large arsenal of less-capable SM-2s, there’s a real danger it could get overwhelmed by enemy missiles, drones and warplanes during, say, a war with China over Taiwan.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-navy-missile-problem-red-134529869.html

The US Navy is in the thick of the Red Sea fight. But there’s one warship class that’s missing

“The US Navy has surged warships into the Middle East in response to the growing threat that Yemen’s Houthi rebels pose to commercial shipping passing through regional waters.
But there’s one ship type the American fleet isn’t surging into the region. The troubled Littoral Combat Ship. Farcically, the LCS is one of the more numerous ship types in the fleet. But it’s totally unsuitable for hard fighting. And the fighting around Yemen has been very hard.

That the US Navy has left behind its 26 LCSs is the latest humiliation for military leaders who advocated for the ship during its long development – and the latest reminder that the American fleet is, in practice, much smaller than it appears to be on paper.

If the LCSs can’t fight the Houthis, who can they fight? That likely answer is: no one.”

“The idea was to equip the US fleet with 50 or more vessels that could sail fast in shallow, near-shore littorals. To keep them small, their weaponry would be light.

The Pentagon’s $37-billion commitment to the LCS was a profound misreading of the future security environment. With no long-range air-defenses, the 3,000-ton LCSs can’t protect themselves from the Houthis’ Iranian-made missiles and drones – to say nothing of protecting commercial ships that might be spread out across thousands of square miles.

And with no long-range land-attack weapons, the LCSs can’t strike back at the Houthis, either. If the LCSs are unsuitable for defense and offense against a regional militant group, how would they fare against a much bigger and more sophisticated foe like China?”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-navy-thick-red-sea-164758213.html

The US Coast Guard seized a big cache of weapons bound for Houthi rebels, including ballistic missile components and explosives

“Over 200 packages of illegal weapons and military components bound for Yemen have been seized by the US Coast Guard, the US Central Command said in a statement on Thursday.
The shipment was seized from a vessel in the Arabian Sea on January 28, per the statement. The US Central Command said the weapons had originated in Iran and were en-route to be delivered to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

A vast assortment of weapons were found on the vessel, ranging from medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, and anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies.

“This is yet another example of Iran’s malign activity in the region, ” Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, CENTCOM commander, said in the statement.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-coast-guard-seized-big-042318794.html

US Now Pursuing ‘Least Bad’ Option in Confronting Houthis

““Obviously, in some ways, deterrence has improved, because we have seen reduced attacks, but actually that’s only happened because we’ve degraded their capabilities — there will be more strikes, I’m almost certain of that,” Kearns said.”

“The US is now attacking in real-time as militants in Yemen mobilize missiles for attacks on commercial vessels. So far, it seems the military response has only emboldened the Houthis. “It is an honor for our people to be in such a confrontation with these evil forces,” Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the head of the militant group, said in a speech on Thursday, citing the US, the UK and Israel.”
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-presses-ahead-least-bad-235325634.html

Iran goes public with stark warning over suspected spy ship as U.S. refuses to rule out more strikes

Iran goes public with stark warning over suspected spy ship as U.S. refuses to rule out more strikes

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iran-goes-public-stark-warning-130042353.html

US warship had close call with Houthi missile in Red Sea

“A cruise missile launched by the Houthis into the Red Sea on Tuesday night came within a mile of a US destroyer before it was shot down, four US officials told CNN, the closest a Houthi attack has come to a US warship.
In the past, these missiles have been intercepted by US destroyers in the area at a range of eight miles or more, the officials said. But the USS Gravely had to use its Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the first time since the US began intercepting the Houthi missiles late last year, which ultimately succeeded in downing the missile, officials said.

The CIWS, an automated machine gun designed for close-range intercepts, is one of the final defensive lines the ship has to shoot down an incoming missile when other layers of defense have failed to intercept it.

The episode underscores the threat the Houthis continue to pose to US naval assets and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, despite multiple US and British strikes on Houthi infrastructure inside Yemen. The close call also comes just days after three US service members were killed in a drone attack by Iran-backed militants at a US outpost in Jordan.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-warship-had-close-call-194235834.html

What History Says About Biden’s Power to Strike Back Against the Houthis

“During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the framers debated how to allocate military and war powers among the branches of government. Some, like Pierce Butler of South Carolina, thought that power should lie with the president, while most others, including Elbridge Gerry, “never expected to hear in a Republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.” (Emphasis added.) Reflecting this consensus, James Madison successfully moved to change a draft sentence that empowered Congress to “make” war to language empowering it to “declare” war — the implication being that “the Executive should be able to repel and not commence, war,” in the words of Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman.”

“Convinced that paying off the pirates was both costly and without an end in sight, Jefferson resolved to take military action. For weeks, his cabinet debated whether the president had sole authority as commander-in-chief to send naval forces to the Mediterranean in a defensive posture. Only one, Attorney General Levi Lincoln, argued that he needed congressional approval even for this limited measure. But the cabinet’s general consensus held that Jefferson enjoyed some prerogative.

Jefferson agreed. Without congressional approval, he sent an American fleet to the Mediterranean, with detailed instructions of what to do — and what not to do. Commodore Richard Dale, the officer in charge, was ordered to “sink, burn, capture, or destroy vessels attacking those of the United States.” But his men were not to initiate combat or step foot on Barbary land. Only after the Republican Congress authorized “warlike operations against the regency of Tripoli, or any other of the Barbary powers,” did Dale’s forces proactively attack the pirate states on their own land. Ultimately, American military success, particularly at the Battle of Derna in 1805, convinced the Barbary authorities that it was time to call a truce. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed the same year, effectively drew a close on Jefferson’s Barbary wars.”

“Contrary to the assertions of progressives like Jayapal and conservatives like Greene, presidents since the founding have affirmed their authority and responsibility to deploy military forces defensively without congressional approval.
To date, Biden has unilaterally ordered targeted strikes against Houthi military targets to diminish the terrorists’ ability to persist in their piracy. He hasn’t ordered a ground invasion of Yemen, a wider offensive against civil and governmental assets or an initiative to depose the Houthi government. He has followed closely in Jefferson’s footsteps, even if 250 years of evolution in technology and warfare make a direct comparison complicated.”

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/01/24/biden-power-houthis-history-00137185

The War on Terror Zombie Army Has Assembled

“All of the ghosts—or perhaps zombies—of U.S. foreign policy for the past 30 years seem to be assembling into one big war. Since the Obama administration, Washington has promised to pull U.S. forces out of the Middle East, while quietly dabbling in proxy wars all over the region. That arrangement turned out to be neither stable nor sustainable. Right under everyone’s noses, and without permission from Congress, the United States has gone from proxy warfare back to direct combat in the Middle East.
The immediate cause of the crisis was unexpected: the mass Hamas-led killing and kidnapping of Israelis last October and the Israeli invasion of Gaza in response. But the underlying dynamics were there for everyone to see. American leaders believed that they could impose an unpopular order on the Middle East without putting in much effort and freeze the Middle East’s conflicts on Washington’s terms. And like an overconfident character in a horror movie, the Biden administration accidentally foreshadowed the bloody events to come.

“The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades now,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said a week before the war. “Now challenges remain—Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians—but the amount of time that I have to spend on crisis and conflict in the Middle East today compared to any of my predecessors going back to 9/11 is significantly reduced.””

“The Trump administration was unbothered. “The biggest threat that our allies and partners in the region face is not the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It’s Iran. You’ve got to start there,” Trump administration official Brian Hook said in August 2020. As was the Biden administration. Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in January 2021 that “it’s hard to see near-term prospects for moving forward” on the issue.

Perhaps the United States alone could have solved the conflict; perhaps no one could have. Either way, Washington had tied itself to the outcome. Israel continued to receive U.S. military aid in greater amounts and with fewer conditions than any other country. And the Abraham Accords made Israel a key part of the entire Middle East’s security architecture.

Meanwhile, Tehran was licking its wounds. Although the Islamic Republic of Iran is internationally isolated and domestically losing control, it has many cards left to play. Iranian leaders can still count on a large arsenal of missiles and drones and an array of pro-Iran guerrilla forces across the region. (The Houthis are one such group.) Saudi Arabia, once an advocate for bombing Iran, decided to cut its losses and accept a diplomatic deal with Iran last year.

“The stage was set, then, for the October war to spread all over the region. The Abraham Accords were exposed as both fragile and unpopular in the Arab world, especially after Israeli leaders began to talk about expelling Palestinians from Gaza en masse. Iran had a golden opportunity to escalate on its terms. Hezbollah, the pro-Iran party in Lebanon, immediately began firing on Israeli territory. Biden sent two aircraft carriers to the region to deter any further escalation against Israel, while also talking Israel out of a preemptive war on Lebanon.

Iraqi militias broke their truce with Americans the following week. The U.S. bases originally set up to overthrow Saddam Hussein and repurposed for the war against the Islamic State were now redoubts against Iran’s Iraqi supporters. Like the Obama and Trump administrations before it, the Biden administration cited the original Iraq War authorization to justify its newest battle.

Then the Houthis began to menace international commerce. Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare’e claimed that Israeli shipping was a “legitimate target” until the siege of Gaza was lifted. Echoing the logic of liberal American hawks, he claimed that Yemen had a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians. But the Houthi attacks also struck non-Israeli ships and drove international shipping companies out of the Red Sea, which normally carries around 10 percent of global trade.

As it turned out, the problem wouldn’t take care of itself. Despite the Abraham Accords, no Arab state except Bahrain was willing to intervene against the Houthis on behalf of Israeli shipping. (Saudi Arabia also seemed more concerned with maintaining its own truce.) Biden decided to cobble together his own fleet to fend off the Houthi assaults.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/12/the-war-on-terror-zombie-army-has-assembled/

Massive Attack On Al Assad Air Base In Iraq, Airstrikes Hit Houthi Missiles (Updated)

“Al Assad Air Base in Iraq, where U.S. military personnel and contractors are based, came under a massive barrage from Iranian-aligned militant groups in the country. The attack was so big that reports state it overwhelmed Al Assad’s air defenses, with multiple projectiles landing within its permitter, causing injuries.”

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is a blanket moniker for a number of groups hostile to the U.S. and Israel over the war in Gaza, claimed responsibility for the attack. It caused minor injuries to U.S. personnel and seriously injured one Iraqi.

“The U.S. has around 2,500 troops in Iraq as part of the anti-ISIS mission there. This would be the 58th attack on U.S. facilities in Iraq since the war between Israel and Gaza lit off after Hamas’s cross-border terror attacks on October 7th, according to Reuters.”

“in and around the Red Sea, it seems clear now that the U.S. is carrying out a sustained hunt aimed at striking the Houthi’s anti-ship weapons prior to launch. Yet another round of preemptive air strikes were carried out yesterday, with three missiles being destroyed.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/massive-attack-al-assad-air-214819320.html