The Baatan Expeditionary Strike Group (marines and amphibious assault ships) just formed up and is heading in the general direction of the mid-east;
the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group is already in the Persian Gulf, routine rotation in theatre.
The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is in theater but pulled out of the Gulf to patrol the coast of Somalia. The Stennis Carrier Strike Group is supposed to be heading there, but they didn't leave first week of Jan as originally suggested, now scheduled to leave sometime this month. No other carriers are at sea, although there are 2-3 (Roosevelt, Reagan and Nimitz) who could pop out at shortish notice if pushed.
The number of subs at sea is at a several month low, as is the number of support ships and escorts.
A squadron of F-117 light stealth attack bombers did just deploy to South Korea, they usually rotate a squadron there in summer, so could well be normal USAF squadron rotation.
A squadron of F-22 raptor fighters deployed to Japan, which is a first, but with the F-22 going active they'd be deploying somewhere soon.
There is either a B-1 squadron or half B-2 squardon in regular deployment in the Indian Ocean, rumour is that all the B-1s have been forward deployed somewhere in the mid-east or indian region at a airbase not to be named. Don't have a good sense for whether this is true.
No sign of air tanker or B-52 forward deployment,
It is a puzzle: I remain convinced that Bush thinks he has an obligation to strike Iran to stop their nuclear bomb development, and I suspect the chance to do so runs out this spring, the rhetoric and incident level is also sharply ratcheting up, but the US can not strike Iran with just 2 CSGs and 2 ESGs, that is not enough strike power, even combined with ready air force assets.
So nothing can happen unless there is either a horrendous chain of escalating incidents and associated build up, which would be a trainwreck, or there is a sudden, possibly secret, surge in some additional US assets. Such moves are hard to hide (like flying to Seattle for AAS there were several Stennis group sailors on recall on the plane...), and aircraft carriers are conspicuous, they'd have to deploy under the disguise of routine exercises; the associated air force reserve call up would be very hard to hide.
Simplest explanation is bluster and bad planning; with a half-assed slide to war, which is of course the absolutely worst way to do something that stupid.
Navy News this morning has an announcement that the submarine force is standing down after the collision in the Persian Gulf - supposedly that was the Eisenhower's escort sub playing tag with a Japanese oil tanker.
Interesting time to stand down.
Not sure what to make of this Washington Note article
But nobody could be that stupid, could they?
John--any Administration that, at this late date, with so few friends (or, perhaps more accurately, non-enemies) in Iraq, could manage to find itself in an armed standoff with the Peshmergah over a consulate is, indeed, demonstrably capable of being that stupid.
Stein--thanks for the deployment update! Crude oil down 4% today...
John Wilkens said: But nobody could be that stupid, could they?
Uh Oh.... It's Dubya
Bush is going to "embed" US soldiers among the pro-Iranian Badr death squads--I mean Iraqi police. The US army is very heavily dependent on supply lines which go through the Shi'ite regions in the southern Iraq. Wonder what happens if the US-Iran conflict begins...
Saudi Arabia is very worried on the rise of the Iranian influence in Iraq and has threatened to support the Sunni insurgency. It is not far-fetched to fear a possible confrontation between the two states, which would probably also involve the smaller Gulf states. Syria is obliged to support Iran, so it would be drawn into the fighting, and so does Hizbullah with all likelihood. Which means Israel joins the battle.
An US-led war--especially one started with Israeli airstrikes--in Iran would probably bring down the regime of the pro-US Musharraf in Pakistan, which would lead to a nuclear-armed fundamentalist rule there. Hard to believe that India would not react to that. Finally, there's Turkey which won't let an independent Kurdistan to form in the northern Iraq.
Most insane thing is that some neocons actually hope that. It is called "creative destruction"; a country or region ravaged by internal strife (like Iraq) is more manageable than independent states with potentially anti-US leadership.
As we know well the region is a powder keg. But now it is surrounded with madmen with burning matches in their hands.
I don't quite know which clairvoyant said this just prior to Bush's misadventure in Iraq, but it seems now to finally have come true.
"Bush's Israel card will eventually backfire..."
Moral of the story:
Neo-cons aren't the least bit concerned what price we pay for Israel's greater geo-strategic interests; so long as the job gets done.
And that, my dear friends, is where the buck REALLY stops.