A few words on roles and limitations …



1.  The President of the United States is constitutionally head of the Executive Branch of the tri-partite federal government of the US. He is ALSO Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.  He/she is not Commander in Chief of the United States.  That means that he is not king or emperor.  Citizens of the US are not in any way obligated to accept his policy views.  Only members of the armed forces are so obliged.   The press idiots cannot absorb that idea.  I am thinking of Maria Bartiromo who seems to yearn for Il Duce.  The governors of the states ARE NOT the subordinates in any way of the president.  Trump's nonsense implying that if they don't do what he likes he will remove them is without factual basis.  The only way he could do that is to declare that state government had collapsed and declare martial law.  He would personally be responsible for that in federal court after the crisis.  He can, of course, seek to influence them using federal money as "bribes."

2.  OTOH As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces he can order those forces into action subject to subsequent action by Congress against him under the War Powers Act. A stupid woman reporter at today's WH briefing repeatedly asked him what the Rules of Engagement (ROE) are for the Navy in the Arabian Gulf in regard to Iranian harassment of our warships in those waters.  Idiot!  If the Commander in Chief says he has directed the US Navy to "shoot down and sink" Iranian vessels harassing our warships, that IS the ROE.  pl 

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37 Responses to A few words on roles and limitations …

  1. Yeah, Right says:

    We both accept that I know shit about the concept of a chain of command, so I’m asking this question out of genuine ignorance: can an officer take it upon himself to start shooting up Iranian speedboats on the basis of what the Commander In Chief has just pronounced on public TV?
    Wouldn’t the existing (written, I assume) RoE remain until such time as the new directive from the CiC works its way down the chain of command and arrives on that Captain’s desk?
    If that is the case (and, again, I admit I don’t know) then the reporter’s question may be poorly phrased, but is not necessarily idiotic.

  2. turcopolier says:

    Yeah Right
    IMO as a person who has participated in revisions of ROE in real life, an oral directive from the CinC stated to the Secretary of Defense and CJCS is sufficient to change the ROE. The paperwork will catch up later. If a US Navy or Coast Guard CO allows the Iranians to damage his ship he/she will be held accountable. The Iranians should knock it off. Now! Would there be Iranian retribution in some place like Syria or Iraq? Very likely.

  3. walrus says:

    I listen most mornings to the Trump task force briefings. They are very informative. I heard Trump tell Iran to knock it off or else. You can’t get any clearer than that.

  4. Grumete Elora Danan says:

    But…Which coast have the US Coast Guard to guard in the Persian Gulf

  5. leith says:

    I personally think the IRGC Navy brass that authorize these harassment swarms have watched too many Mad Max movies.
    But why doesn’t the Navy’s LRAD sound cannon seem to be working? Those Iranian fast boats stayed in the area for at least an hour. Were they too close in for it to be effective (the LR in LRAD stands for Long Range)? Or do the IRGC sailors now use ear protection? Doubtful as the LRAD sound cannon can put out 160 dB. Is it possible for them to have developed a sound interference system similar to what LRAD uses to protect the operator? Or is the LRAD too slow to track fast moving speedboats? It was used successfully in the past against Somali pirates, but they were in slow skiffs. Those IRGC speedboats, based on the British Bradstone Challenger award winning racer, can reportedly do over 70 knots (80+ mph).

  6. turcopolier says:

    Elora Dana
    You are an ignoramus. The USCG is bigger than the Spanish Navy. We have two navies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Coast_Guard#Equipment

  7. turcopolier says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS To hell with sound cannons. Leave the wreckage burning on the water.

  8. Leith says:

    Turcopolier – The sound cannons do not appear to be working so to hell with them is a good idea.
    And IRGCN wreckage burning on the water would satisfy me and probably satisfy lots of US sailors. But I’m not sure it would bring joy to the hearts of US troops based in Iraq that are under threat of Iranian ballistic missile attack such as what happened in January at the airbases in Asad and Erbil.
    So better IMHO would be to use Seal Team snipers to take out the IRGC coxswain steering any boat that comes too close. Or take out the engine of a harassing boat instead of sinking it. That would get the message across and still be considered proportional and reasonable in the eyes of the international community. Would there be a counter response? Yes, but perhaps the Ayatollahs would recognize the proportionality and restrain the more fanatical whackos in the Revolutionary Guards.

  9. turcopolier says:

    I mentioned retaliation in Iraq and Syria. We should get out of those places, places where we should not have that kind of “hostages.” No, burning wreckage is what I want to see.

  10. Leith says:

    I too have long thought we should leave Iraq and Syria to the residents.

  11. walrus says:

    If. you can reliably shoot a coxswain or an engine of a fast moving Iranian speed boat with a sniper rifle I’d be surprised. I don’t think I could even in my prime and I was regarded as pretty good. Miss and you loose the element of surprise.
    CIWS would send a more emphatic message.

  12. Yeah, Right says:

    “No, burning wreckage is what I want to see.”
    I’d be curious to see a map of where the Iranians carry out those harassment swarms. Are they careful to only do them within the “distant cover” of their shore-based anti-ship missiles?
    In which case burning wreckage may well exactly what you want to see, only to see that the Iranians have standing orders to immediately light up the US vessel with radar and fire salvo after salvo of silkworm missiles at it until it, too, is burning wreckage.
    Just a thought worth considering.

  13. TV says:

    Why is the USCG there?
    Are their ships (cutters) sufficiently armed to deal with IRGC?
    And, the CG is always asking for more money for Arctic operations (justifiably) so why they are spending resources doing the USN’s job?

  14. Vegetius says:

    Sounds like he is laying the groundwork for another Gulf of Tonkin episode, whether he means to or not.
    Whatever his own instincts, Trump is surrounded by the same guys that W was. Sure, the names are different, but it’s the same guys.
    This alone shows that not at all the transformational candidate he purported to be, at least with regard to our continued efforts at achieving Zionist foreign policy objectives.

  15. turcopolier says:

    I guess you could not be bothered to take the time to read the wiki on USCG. They routinely reinforce the navy in war situations. This is not a maritime police force. It is, among other things, a blue water navy in itself.

  16. turcopolier says:

    yeah, right
    “Silkworm?” That piece of s–t?

  17. Yeah, Right says:

    Indeed a piece of shite.
    Did you know that the Japanese were sticking bombs on their trainers and flinging those at US warships.
    Worthless shite in anyone’s language, but they were flinging enough of them that weight of numbers became an issue.

  18. Leith says:

    Walrus – Definitely a tough shot. Lots of factors involved. But doable with the right person on the trigger. Those boats won’t always be doing 70 knots and won’t always be zigzagging. There will be patterns that can be taken advantage of. Even a miss of the coxswain that still hits the boat sends a clear message. Save the CIWS rounds for their designed purpose to protect against incoming missiles or aircraft that got through the screen.
    Vegetius – I blame the first-in-his-class but still pig-ignorant Secretary of State. But you may be right that Trump is leary to fire him for political reasons.

  19. A.I.S. says:

    I am quite uncertain if a further escalation with Iran will improve the strategic position of either the USA or the west.
    Iranian sea-mine (mines arent sexy, but they are quite effective) and kind of crappy but lots of them rocket swarm warfare may well do a number. I would also be unsurprised if Iran reopens its old assasination toolkit. They used to be fairly reasonable at that, and well, Tit for Tat has always been a thing with them too.
    Both Russia and China may be interested in seeing how an Iranian missle swarm, backed by a smallish number of not so crappy missles will fare as well.

  20. JamesT says:

    I guess I have to play devil advocate and ask if the Iranians are actually breaking any international law or laws of the sea. If they were to attack or even damage a US ship then a kinetic response would be warranted. But if they are simply thumbing their nose at US ships, and they are technically not violating any laws of the sea, attacking them for harassing behaviour may come back to haunt the US when China “shoots down” some US vessel for “harassing behaviour” in the South China Sea. Iran is not a nuclear power – but Russia and China are, and China and Russia are not going to accept a different set of rules for them than what apply to the US.

  21. turcopolier says:

    What is the word? Ah, yes, “wimp.”

  22. turcopolier says:

    Another wimp. I went through all that business with Iranian sea mines during the Iran-Iraq War. Not so formidable.

  23. turcopolier says:

    Yeah, right
    Have I heard of the Divine Wind? You really are an obnoxious little creep. You are banned

  24. A.I.S. says:

    with all due respect, I am not American.
    You war with Iran or you dont, it wont be my blood unless it escalates massively to involve Russia/China on the Iranian and Nato on the US sides. In that case it will be my blood, ironically on opposing sides as I am half German half Russian. I vowed to defend Germany rather then Russia during my service in the German rather then Russian army, so I am your ally. I am attempting to prevent you from undertaking actions that are very likely to be quite detrimental to your own strategic position, moreso if you dismiss the degree, intensitiy and effectiveness of likely Iranian resistance.
    From an analyst pov., the Iran-Iraq war happened right after the revolution, with an Iranian military establishment going through purges/defections and the afromentioned existential major land war with Iraq etc.
    Iran has a pretty different military establishment (which is for one, actually established) now. This military establishment spent what, nearly 40 years preparing for a possible American war. Persians arent morons. Assuming that these decades of preparations wont have an effect is incredibly questionable.
    Extrapolating current Iranian performance from Iran-Iraq war Iranian performance is akin to predicting Soviet WW2 military performance from Soviet military performance during Russian civil war or the Soviet Polish war.
    While one could draw successfull inferences from it (considering f.e. shortcomings in Soviet logistics, which were very much present during operation Barbarossa) but on a whole, the Red army of 1941 was a pretty different beast compared to the Red army of 1921-1923 and performed very differently compared to said red army.
    Secondly, a 1940 German analyst who predicted an easy collapse of the RKKA during Barbarossa based on Polish-Soviet war performance would have to awnswer question why more recent Soviet wars/conflicts, such as Kalkhin Gol did not change his assumptions. Germany in 1940 being what it was, such questions did not get asked at a high enough level.
    As a matter of fact, said German analyst would probably be on safer grounds to dismiss Soviet military capability then you are in dismissing Iranian capability, as he could marshall the Soviet debacle in the Winter war in the defense of his “Not so formidable!” argument. Iran has meanwhile had a Kalklin Gol (Hezbollahs victory over Israel in 2006) but no winter war equivalent (perhaps the initial loss of Iranian backed Afghan warlords to the Taleban, but comparing this to the winter war is a sizeable stretch). Their efforts in Iraq/Syria are meeting their political objectives, at acceptable costs. This is a clear step up from their performance in the Iraq/Iran war.
    Meanwhile, Iranian proxies/IRGC performed adequately in their recent conflicts, Iran position in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and arguably Afghanistan have improved considerably due to the efforts of their frequently proxied armed forces, they do not have to contend with a possible Soviet/Russian threat (which was a concern for the Iranians, given the Anglo Soviet invasion of Iran during WW2, as well as the well documented and quite forcefull Soviet Support of Kurdish independence, during the 1980s), while the US has to take into account Russian and Chinese opportunism.
    Overall, Irans position is massively and overwhelmingly stronger right now then it was during the Iran-Iraq war. It is not stronger then the USA, but it is much stronger then it was.
    Failing to take this into account will cause uneccesary US casulties and make an escalation more likely and more costly.
    Failing to take this into account on a operational/strategic level, by committing insufficient forces to such an operation based on underestimating the level and intensity of Irans counter measures, could cause a US defeat in one of the initial battles, essentially a repeat of the 2006 Hezbollah war with the US being in Israels and Iran in Hezbollahs role.
    This will have massive reprecursions.
    The US could/should eventually prevail even if it suffers an initial defeat, but will do so at costs (strategic, human, material and morale) that considerably exceed initial US assumptions.
    It is also possible that initial defeats create comparable command paralysis to the one that affected Israeli leadership in 2006, but I find this fairly unlikely as the overall correlation of forces (both quantity and quality, Irans forces are imho not qualitatively better then Hezbollahs, while I would argue that American forces enjoy a qualitative edge over Israels, particularly over 2006s Israels which was hamstrung by being in the process of adopting a pretty dumb doctrine) is more favorable to the US, and the current US doctrine for battle is not obviously inherently stupid, which Israels was in 2006.

  25. English Outsider says:

    Vegetius – I think this is the sort of thing they’re worried about –
    Fact is, the Iranians are being stupid. They might know that their boats are doing no more than conducting dangerous manouevres. So might the Captain of that American ship.
    But there are a number of non-state actors who have the resources and ability to put a boat in the water similar to those Iranian boats but to use it to do what was done to the USS Cole.

  26. turcopolier says:

    EO et al
    A lot of you do not understand the mentality of navy captains. They will defend their ships at all cost if they are allowed to do so and now they are allowed to do so. The Cole? She was at anchor in Aden port when just this kind of behavior suddenly became a deadly attack. Her former CO is now a pathetic figure who appears from time to time on 24/7 news.

  27. turcopolier says:

    Are you “b?” You sound like him. Try to overcome your night terrors. Stiff upper lip, etc. BTW. I was a participant in the Iran-Iraq War.

  28. turcopolier says:

    You want to shoot at coxswains of Iranian boats with rifles? You don’t seem tp understand that what you want to do in this situation is to make the result of their aggressive behavior so bad that it serves as a disincentive. The IRGC may be Islamic fanatics, but all God’s chillun don’t want to go home on any particular day.

  29. Norbert M Salamon says:

    You, Sir, are correct: silkworm of 1980 is old rather useless missile.
    Unfortunately [for USN] Iran possesses sunburn missiles, which are most lethal in the confines of the Persian Gulf. Such missiles will persuade US officers to decline finding any Iranian harassment of their ships – assisted suicide is not career advancement

  30. Leith says:

    turcopolier –
    If you want to send a hard message that will make them take notice, then put some five-inch shells on the Kharg Island speedboat base. Why swat at individual bees in a swarm when you can take out the nest?
    Those harassing speedboats are just flimsy fiberglass. Don’t waste resources on them. Maybe they are just putting on a show in order to jack up the price of crude oil? Trump may be doing the same with his shoot-them-down tweet?

  31. egl says:

    “No, burning wreckage is what I want to see.” Giving the neocons exactly what they want?

  32. turcopolier says:

    Giving the Iranians what they do not want. Giving the neocons what they want is not always a bad thing. A naval combat does not have the geopolitical impact for us that a land war would have. At the same time we should get out of Syria and Iraq.

  33. Leith says:

    Norbert Salamon –
    There are valid defenses against missiles like the ‘Sunburn’ that use active radar homing during terminal guidance. They are low-flying sea skimmers and hard to detect so you would need a tipoff to know they are incoming. The tipoff assets would surely be on alert.
    I’d be interested in what Tidewater or Andy or other former Navy men who have commented here in the past have to say on the Sunburn, and on Trump’s tweet in general?

  34. ked says:

    “ Trump’s nonsense implying that if they don’t do what he likes he will remove them is without factual basis. “
    He was probably being sarcastic.

  35. turcopolier says:

    That could be but it is still dangerous nonsense.

  36. Anon says:

    The boats are activating the ships electronic defence systems,iranian and co. land based eavesdropping systems are tracking the responses.
    The attack will start first with an electrical surge from land based chip fryers,similar to the ones you

  37. Vegetius says:

    English Outsider what you say makes sense. But I do not trust the men around Trump about as far as I can throw a Boston Whaler.

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