Who done what?


According to news reports the US has retaliated against shore radars in Yemen with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

OK.  I wonder why the USS Mason did not sink attacking small boats with the 20mm, 4500 rds/minute radar trained gatling guns on board.  there  usually are two, one in the bow and another at the stern.  These things have a range of over 2 miles and will chew a speed boat to bits in an instant.  The Mason would also have had one or two 5 inch radar trained naval guns.  If you are attacked at sea you sink the opponent.  That is basic stuff, especially when you consider the unforgiving nature of the US Navy when dealing with a commanding officer who lets one of their precious ships be damaged.  I was on the JCS investigating board for the Iraqi attack on USS Stark.  The circumstances of the damage on the ship were quite ambiguous but the captain and his officers knew well from the beginning that their careers were at an end in spite of the fact that they managed to save the burned out ship.  So, why did the CO of USS Mason not react more forcefully DURING the attack?

And then there is the little matter of the identity of the attackers.  As some here know I was Defense Attaché in Yemen long ago and know the country well having repeatedly returned.  The Houthis are, IMO, unlikely to have anti-ship missiles.  These are small arms equipped tribal guerrillas.  There is a portion of the Yemen Army that has remained allied with the Houthis and loyal to former president, Salih.  These fellows have a "missile battalion" with which they have been shooting at targets in Saudi Arabia with SCUD (old Soviet stocks?) and other ballistic missiles.  The targets are just about all military in nature; air bases, ground force positions, etc., and they have been hitting a lot of them.  Might they have old Chinese Silkworm anti-ship missiles or the like?  Certainly. 

IMO it is impossible at this time and on the basis of available information to decide exactly what has transpired in this ship action against shore batteries and who did what.  pl

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81 Responses to Who done what?

  1. turcopolier says:

    Let’s not jump to conclusions. pl

  2. Jeff Roby says:

    Cui bono?

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It must be because they are trying to crush the Party of (Imam) Ali – after 1400 years.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Jeff Roby
    And the answer is? pl

  5. Fred says:

    “… why did the CO of USS Mason not react more forcefully DURING the attack?”
    Incompetence or cowardice in the face of an armed enemy? He should be court martialed. Unless there was no threat at all in which case the facts will be hidden far better than Hilary’s emails have been.

  6. MartinJ says:

    I think that the action was signalling an intent to cause future trouble in the Bab al-Mandab strait. The message to the US is that Yemen can cause more trouble than it is worth. I would hazard the “idea” is to make the US decide how far it is willing to go in this war, how much it is willing to back the Saudis, and at what cost. With minimal resources Yemen can interdict commercial shipping and oil tankers, should it choose to do so.

  7. MasterSlacker says:

    I think LtCol(ret) Bateman covers it reasonably well in Esquire

  8. eakens says:

    Let’s assume for a hot second the US does cede Syria to the Russians and Iranians. Do you think the Russians would seek to plant a flag in Yemen next?

  9. scott s. says:

    I have seen nothing about “attacking small boats”. Instead it appears Mason engaged the first shore-launched missile with SM-2 and ESSM missiles. The second shore-launched missile apparently splashed outside engagement range. Meanwhile the ship also deployed ECM (reportedly Nulka) against the missile seekers. CIWS would engage any leakers (which didn’t happen in this case). I’m not sure what capability the 5″ with VT-frag projectiles would have. Some but not what you would want as last line of defense. Though this does bring back memories of gunnery quals at Gitmo where we would do the “John Wayne” exercise at Vieques Island (steam at full speed towards the beach, firing Mt 51, then reverse course and fire from aft Mt 52). There were also the fire support missions sometime during which you would receive counter battery and have to engage.

  10. mike allen says:

    “impossible at this time and on the basis of available information to decide exactly what has transpired in this ship action against shore batteries and who did what.”
    I have not yet seen any reports of attacks by small boats. Although there was some speculation that there may have been spotters in skiffs. Are there any published reports that the USS Mason or Nitze or Ponce were attacked by small boats?
    Some news bulletins on the attack also mentioned that the US ships were painted by radar before the attacks Sunday and Wednesday. In a piece this morning Sam LaGrone of US Naval Institute News, he says the radar sites targeted were near Ras Issa, north of Mukha, and near Khoka; all on the Red Sea coastline. Reuters said they were told by shipping sources that radar sites were hit in the Dhubab district of Taiz province, a remote area overlooking the Bab al-Mandab [strait] known for fishing and smuggling. I myself know nothing of Yemen geography.
    Any conjecture of fabrication of the Sunday and Wednesday attacks are way too early regardless of suspicion. And questions about incompetence or cowardice by the Captain or crew should never be said by people who were not there and have not investigated the circumstances.

  11. Jeff Roby says:

    I’d venture that it wasn’t the Houthi resistance. Either the U.S. wanted to get more involved, OR the jihadis wanted the U.S. more involved Narrows it a bit.
    On the U.S. media end, I’ve noticed a slight shift from “U.S. must get MORE involved militarily because of the children” to U.S. must get more involved because of “strategic interests.” They need that, because dead children aren’t enough for them to spend blood and treasure. The veneer is getting stripped away

  12. Earthrise says:

    I thought it was strange that the missiles both ditched into the water before striking the ship. Now maybe it is a new ECM I am not aware of, but I felt it was either a demonstration, or a false flag as most people believe. I wonder what these three Tomahawks hit? I can’t imagine that there would be any active radar left in Yemen after all these months of aerial bombardment. If they really were anti-ship missiles, they would be portable, again fixed locations would have already have been bombed. The US does not need to use their navy to attack assets in Yemen, as they could just get their air controllers in Riyadh to do them work for them. Of course they could be angling to take a more active (overt) role in the brutalising of Yemen, a signal that SA has failed (der!).
    The other option is that the assets that were struck were Iranian, or even Russian. The strike could be revenge for wrecking of the UAE ‘Swift’, or at least a message to back off. I think many of us are wondering how the Houthis can hit Saudi based with such accuracy with unguided ‘Scuds’. Someone is helping Yemen, and while no doubt the IRGC is active, I think this is mainly Saudi propaganda. John Pilger said a few months ago that World War Three has already started, looks like he is right. Don’t worry about calling a war that nobody turns up to, what about the war that no-one knows is even taking place!

  13. FB Ali says:

    When the participants in such events don’t say what really happened, there is no alternative but to come up with the most likely explanation.
    The basic events were:
    – The Houthi combatants in Yemen fire a missile and hit a UAE vessel in the Bab-al-Mandab strait.
    – A few days later the USS Mason claims to have been fired upon in the same area, and retaliates by destroying 3 Houthi radars on the coast (almost certainly the same ones that were involved in the attack on the UAE vessel).
    Why on earth would the Houthis fire on a US ship? Haven’t they enough enemies already, wreaking havoc on their country?
    I am fairly certain that this was an unprovoked attack by the USS Mason on the radars as payback for the attack on the UAE vessel. And, to preclude any such future ventures.
    The rest is just BS!

  14. BrotherJoe says:

    The initial reports that I heard stated that the missiles were fired from shore and fell short of the US vessel. Could the Houthis have seen a ship but have been unable to identify it as American at such long distances ?

  15. Wrxally says:

    Cui Bono? Al Saud and US defence contractors. Timing is suspicious , just as the Obama admin is criticizing Saudi brutishness and questions about its huge arms purchase appear in the MSM.

  16. Andy says:

    As far as I can tell there was no small boat attack on the USS Mason or any other US vessel.
    Additionally, the Houthi coalition definitely has anti-ship missiles – they used one against a UAE vessel last week. They released a video showing the radar for the system, the missile launch and the hit on the ship. The hit was obviously filmed from a small boat nearby – it’s also likely that boat passed targeting information to the cruise missile site. Here is the video:
    In March 2015 the Houthi’s gained control of the Yemeni Navy base at Mocha which reportedly stored the Navy’s c-801 cruise missiles. Houthi forces or their allies then used them at least 3 times in 2015 to attack Arab coalition ships in the Red Sea.
    Finally, as for the inevitable theories that the US Navy “fabricated” this, that is something that only happens in novels. The number of conspirators needed to keep a fake attack secret is quite large and the US government leaks info like a sieve.

  17. F5F5F5 says:

    According to Stars&Stripes, The USS Mason’s Aegis system did detect and intercept two missiles fired from the Yemeni coast. The missiles fell respectively 12 and 8 miles from the ship.
    According to other sources the missiles were either anti-ship Chinese C-802 or their Iranian variant, Noor.
    Who fired these missiles is still unclear, but the destruction of those shore radars are clearly an advantage for US and allied navies which are now free to romp in this area.

  18. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I’m open to the possibility this is part of a propaganda operation. I doubt the commander of a USN vessel would let themselves be attacked without some response. But we do have the bizarre incident of the Iranian Navy capturing those Navy guys … last year was it? My how time flies. I guess the spirit of Admiral Farragut is wispy and vaporous indeed. That or someone’s pulling some wool.

  19. b says:

    All sources from Yemen say the know of no attack and the Houthis and Saleh say explicitly they did not attack. There is also little motive on their side as they are obviously aware of the consequences. No one but the U.S. ship itself reported an attack.
    Reuters reported a few days ago that the U.S. fears, and State discusses, possible negative legal consequences from the U.S. supported Saudi attacks in Yemen. There is also lobbying within and outside of Senate against that support. An “attack” makes “defense” legal and thereby enables the Obama administration to continue its support for the Saudis without further trouble. Problem solved! Neither CBS nor ABC nor CNN reported the 18 month long U.S. support for Saudis last night when they reported the U.S. strike on “Iran supported Houthis”! Nothing about the 10,000 dead and millions near famine in Yemen and who caused them and the heavy U.S. involvement in it (5,700 refueling flights, $billions of ammunition sales)!
    The above speaks for a “Gulf of Tonkin” event.
    There is also the possibility of a false flag attack.
    The attack took place on the western Yemeni coast but near the southern end. The area is not under full Houthi control. Al-Qaeda and other Saudi supported tribal forces are also there especially west and south of Taiz. Since March Al-Qaeda in Yemen has been observed and pictured with RPG-32 and other modern anti-tank weapons. (We can guess from where.)
    All attacking missile were reported has have fallen short. Only the second ship launched countermeasures. The countermeasure from Lockheed includes a decoy rockets system that is designed to attract terminal-radar steered missiles (like the C-802 silkworm) onto itself. But the missiles fell short – they did not seek/hit the decoy (which stays quite near to, above the ship). The C-802 also has a good range (120km at least.) Four were launched if you believe the latest navy spin. It is implausible that the Houthi or Saleh’s troops would fire four(!) of the few they probably have and all fell short. Especially as the one fired against the UAE fast supply ship was a really good hit.
    This above points to the possibility of a false flag attack with shorter range anti-tank weapons (“missiles”) by AQ or other Saudi/UAE aligned forces. If it was it obviously had the desired effect.

  20. b says:

    Funny and very sad – today the NYT headlines and “reports” that the Houthis “believe” that the “hidden hand” of the U.S. supports the Saudis.
    I wonder how the Houthi got that “believe”? Might it be because they “know” of “public” U.S. support from dozens of earlier factual NYT reports and official U.S. statements that say so?
    “Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War”
    Dear Americans, your media are an absurd mess.

  21. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to All,
    Did the United States just knock out three of the most important aids to international commercial navigation on the littoral of the Arabian shore of the Red Sea?
    I have tried to imagine what it would be like to be part of an Islamist team, one that is detailed to launch an attack with a Noor on an American warship. I think I would pick my spot carefully, with an eye to a ravine you could duck into, and scramble down, off site, if the worst happened. The worst would be when the SLQ-32 system (“Slick-32” to its masters) picked up the critical moment of the Designation Phase, when the target (their ship) is “painted,” by what I imagine to be a radar that is attached to the two-box truck which brought the missiles, a truck that is also capable of launching them. Once painted, the coordinates of the location of the target are programmed into the missiles’ onboard computer. Previously, the two missiles must have been linked by the wire of,say, a field telephone, in order that there is such synchronicity in the launch that the one does not kill the other. After that, the two missiles can be launched. There are now, with upgrades, at least dual guidance systems; the Noor has a datalink, which means that the fire-team can monitor and correct the glide path of the missile by television. I assume you can launch a Noor out of a box made of two by sixes, if need be. I feel certain that you also take both missiles and radar off the truck and manhandle them where you want them to be. (Over by the ravine.) So the Noor is “shoot and scoot’, as those who have done it, such as TTG, have already explained , if with mortars.
    Now, the DDG with the ‘Slick-32’ may have reasons to hold off a few seconds or minutes from launching the Tomahawk, though it should be noted that its maker, Raytheon (or “Raya-thon”), has told us: “It can detect aircraft search and target radars well before they detect the ship.” (‘A Proxy War Between Saudi Arabia and Iran has spilled over the shoreline and into international waters.’)
    Here is what is interesting about the situation. If there are aids to commercial navigation , say as a part of the varied and sundry electronic systems array of a lighthouse, then the target, the ship, if it has come into range of the radar sweep, will be very clearly “painted’ by the lighthouse radar. The more powerful transmitter of the lighthouse radar will serve as a booster to making the Designation, and you can quickly lock-on to the ship. The “Designator” does not now have to dawdle over his little black and green screen of his portable radar worrying about whether or not that additional white fleck, (a whitecap) is ‘clutter,’ or something else. He also does not need to patiently greasepencil in three or four dots, over long seconds of sweep by sweep,to see how fast the target is moving, and in what direction. This is not unknown Neptune Ruby, bound for Mombasa. You already know who it is from your scouts. Who knows when they started to report in? They may have started reporting in from Naples, since the folks that serve Fleet Landing have a Need to Know. (“Anna, come quickly from Ischia! They’re back!”) The target will have been watched for days, or weeks. And you cannot sink a little fishing boat loaded with tax-free Khat, Johnny Walker Red Label, and gelignite, just because it is out there in their own waters.
    If the American attack was made on the portable radar systems of a Noor missile, then why would US officials suggest that the radars are fixed radars?
    “US officials said the Houthi had seized the coastal radar facilities at Ras Isa, Mukha (Mocca, where coffee came from?) and used them to track and target vessels at sea with anti-ship missiles.”
    Coastal. Radar. Facility.
    That is not what the Noor or Chinese C-802 antiship missile is. It is not a “facility.” It is a missile on a truck that is transporting also a small radar. Nobody needs to “seize” it because someone, probably Iran, using covert methods, has shipped the whole ensemble into Yemen without anyone knowing, and then has transported and then has hidden the entire thing somewhere. It’s portable!
    And this is exactly what the Jewish state said about its destruction of the radar used for navigation off of Beirut, after the 2006 hit on the INS Hanit. The Israeli spokesmen said that Hezbollah had “seized” the lighthouse facilities and radar stations. The Americans and the legacy Jews are now repeating each other.
    Question. Why do you need to seize a radar station to use or misuse it? It is there, free, giving a powerful “return” on everything out there, and all you have to do is tune in. From anywhere within range. In fact, a seizure would surely be reported, be a possible tip-off, and allow the ship the needed time to simply steam out of there.
    If Americans and Israeli spokesmen are saying the same thing, are these two situations similar? Well, let’s put it this way. If a terrorist attack using Noor was launched off of Juan les Pins, or Menton, would French navigational radar such as at Toulouse, be knocked out?
    The difference here is that when you knock out the radar at Beirut, you are not on the navigational route of 8-10 per cent of the world’s oil. Up a waterway that famously has a lot of coral reefs and islands and requires passage through certain designated shipping lanes which are often near islands. And is rapidly becoming hostile.
    Focussing on Ras Isa, one of the three destroyed facilities. Which we are told were not particularly important. It needs to be pointed out that the oil pipeline from Marib runs from 107 miles east of Sanaa, drops down below the city, and then ends up at Ras Isa (a total of 272 miles), where it then is either partially stored (I infer from photos) in one or two white storage tanks on shore, or is pumped out through an undersea pipeline to a 409,000 DWT Floating Storage and Offloading Vessel (FSO Safer) which is permanently moored 4.8 nautical miles offshore. There are fixed mooring buoys in an anchorage nearby. The visiting tanker having arrived, no doubt relying (as in a sandstorm )on the port’s radar, presumably associated with a lighthouse–and lighthouses are on most of the larger islands, such as the French built lighthouse on at least one of the three Hanish Islands, perched on top of reddish, burnt umber, tree-less, waterless, something that looks like an enormous partially sunken meteorite, hundreds of feet high. This tanker will pick up its mooring, tie up to the buoy, then pick up the nozzle of the hose from the Safer which will extend a safe distance, and will spend hours taking on board its cargo.
    There is also a concrete pier off of Ras Isa in a protected area tucked in behind Kamaran Island. This is a place where all the color and beauty of our world is only to be found underwater. It was also a quarantine station under the rule of the Ottomans for pilgrims making Haj.
    The Marib pipeline has a capacity of 200,000 barrels of light crude a day. Normally about 125,000 barrels a day flow through it, and it is all for export, unlike the natural gas line from Marib, which is a different story. Ras Isa is one of the most important ports of Yemen, though a ship could not even take on water there, or obtain fuel. When the Marib pipeline was severed by “tribesmen” in 2012, Yemen lost more than four billion dollars.
    If it is true that the United States has destroyed three lighthouses/ radar complexes that make it much, much safer for an important amount of the world’s shipping, including LNG carriers, to make passage up the Red Sea, the first question that has to be asked is, did that really happen? There has got to be an explanation about these “fixed” facilites. What were they?
    I can guess that one way we will begin to find out is when there is a sudden annnouncement that shipping insurance in that region has suddenly gone sky high.
    This is incredible!

  22. ancient archer says:

    And of course, the US which now has a valid (and explainable to the sheeple back stateside) reason for getting involved in the war in Yemen. It’s not just R2P anymore (maybe that reason is getting old and overused). It’s self defence

  23. Earthrise says:

    I just read this article on Southfront, one of the most important I have read:

  24. Tigermoth says:

    Here are links to 3 USNI News articles on the incidents: FYI sunset is at 17hr43 in Yemen at the moment.
    All attacks were by missile no smallcraft at all.
    “…The crew of a guided-missile destroyer fired three missiles to defend themselves and another ship after being attacked on Sunday in the Red Sea by two presumed cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi-forces, USNI News has learned.
    Mason launched two Standard Missile-2s (SM-2s) and a single Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) to intercept the two missiles that were launched about 7 P.M. local time. In addition to the missiles, the ship used its Nulka anti-ship missile decoy, the sources confirmed. Mason was operating in international waters north of the strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the time of the attack…”
    “…Houthi rebels fired two more cruise missiles at the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87) on Wednesday and Pentagon officials are pledging a response, DoD spokesman Peter Cook said in a Wednesday statement.
    “For the second time in four days, USS Mason responded to an incoming missile threat while conducting routine operations in international waters off the Red Sea coast of Yemen,” Cook said.
    “Those who threaten our forces should know that U.S. commanders retain the right to defend their ships, and we will respond to this threat at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner.”
    Mason was operating in the strait of Bab el-Mandeb when two costal defense missiles were launched at the ship from the vicinity of southern city of Al Hudaydah at around 1800 local time (1100 EST), according to information from defense officials provided to USNI News…”
    “…A Navy guided missile destroyer launched an attack against three radar sites in Yemen with Tomahawk cruise missiles in response to recent attacks on U.S. ships in the region, the Pentagon announced late Wednesday.
    USS Nitze (DDG-94) launched an unknown number of the Tomahawks against the installations along the Red Sea and north of the strait of Bab el-Mandeb around 4 a.m. local time on Thursday (about 9 p.m. Wednesday EST).
    “Initial assessments indicate that all three targets were destroyed,” read a statement from a U.S. defense official issued to the press late Wednesday.
    “These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea, including last week’s attack on the USA-flagged vessel “Swift-2″, and during attempted attacks on USS Mason and other ships as recently as today.”…”
    Past Houthi/Yemen Army ship attacks:
    “…A source in military circles confirmed that it is already the 11th sunken ship over the past six months. Recall that the previous successful attack took place on the 4th February. On that day the militias of the “Houthi” movement sank 4 boats belonging to Saudi Arabia…”
    Southfront 15/12/2015 article lists the dates of 8 sinkings last year.
    “…The Saudi warships were reportedly two destroyers and were targeted by the Yemeni army missiles in the Al-Mukha coastal waters in the province of Ta’iz on Tuesday…
    For several months now the Saudi-led forces have been trying to win control over the coastal regions near the waterway. The developing of the battle is as follows:
    On December 11, the Yemeni forces destroyed a Saudi warship in the Bab-Mandab Strait.
    On December 5, the Yemeni forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship in the waters near Bab al-Mandab Strait.
    On November 25, the Yemeni forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship in the waters near Bab al-Mandab Strait.
    On November 15, Yemeni forces destroyed a Saudi-led coalition warship al-Mukha coast.
    On November 7, Yemeni forces fired rockets at a Saudi-led coalition warship and destroyed it near al-Mukha coast.
    On October 25, the Yemeni forces hit and destroyed another Saudi warship in Bab al-Mandab Strait
    On October 11, another ship which belonged to the Egyptian army and named al-Mahrousa was destroyed by Yemeni missiles in the coastal waters near al-Mukha coast.
    On October 9, Yemeni army and popular forces also fired missiles at a Saudi warship, and destroyed it in Bab al-Mandab Strait.
    The warship was wrecked off the Southwestern coast of Yemen, in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which makes the connection between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.”
    This indicates there is a competent anti-ship outfit operating, although there has been a gap of a few months with no ships sunk.
    THe USNI article indicates that the 3 radar stations were operating during the Swift boat attack (US flagged according to the article) and the USS Mason attacks.
    The indicate a Chinese made C-208 missile as most likely on the Swift boat.
    My question to Col Lang is IYO whom might have this kind of anti-ship capability in Yemen?
    Other questions are:
    Are the launch platforms for the C-208 mobile?
    If there were a total 2 to 4 missiles fired at the USS Mason on two occasions why did they all seem to fall short? That doesn’t seem consistent with 12 hit targets in the past year.
    Were the 3 radar stations just monitoring the coastal waters or used for targeting? Youtube videos of prior sinkings indicate the Yemenis use visual recon from small boats possibly like in the Swift attack videos.
    Is this preparation for a landing force?
    Who benefits? CNN news check latest 50 articles: None on Sanna Funeral bombing. Poof it’s gone. BBC: none, Fox News:1, Associated Press: none, South African News24 doesn’t even mention Yemen at all, LOL.

  25. Tigermoth says:

    My thoughts are echoed:
    “The leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has warned that the US military is preparing the ground for an act of aggression against the war-torn Arab country.
    In a televised speech on Thursday, Abdul Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, the Houthi Andarullah leader, condemned Washington’s recent missile attacks against three mobile radar sites on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, claiming the US are preparing an invasion.
    “The US is after laying the groundwork for making an invasive move against [western coastal] Hudaydah Province,” the statement said, adding, “Through this measure, the US is after building up pressure on and harassing the people of Yemen.”
    “The Yemeni nation will defend its territory, freedom and independence, seeing it as its right to use any legitimate means against violent invasions,” the Houthi leader said.”

  26. AJones says:

    “Finally, as for the inevitable theories that the US Navy “fabricated” this, that is something that only happens in novels. The number of conspirators needed to keep a fake attack secret is quite large and the US government leaks info like a sieve.”
    For years there were many people throughout the U.S., in the U.S. military (USAF), government, and contractor companies, which knew about the specific global surveillance programs and snooping on average and all Americans. This was going on for years, involved lots and lots of people, including huge high tech companies, yet it was kept completely secret until Edward Snowden dropped a dime.
    James Bamford and Alex Jones might have been speculating on the possibilities or likelihood of such a thing Snowden revealed, but that’s no different than the well-informed people on SST speculating on the likelihood of a staged incident.

  27. hemeantwell says:

    “Dear Americans, your media are an absurd mess.”
    So nauseatingly true, and absolutely no offense taken. The Times article was a marvel of tunnel vision and misdirection. No reference to ongoing US support of the Saudis, implying that it is on the basis of the response to the missile attack only that the Houthis are (irrationally) charging the US with complicity. When I try to imagine anyone taking this seriously, the first stop is Orwell and 1984.
    b, keep up your good work keeping track of this rubbish.

  28. turcopolier says:

    The Chinese C-801 missile has been present in Yemen for many years and I see no reason that the missile trained people present on the Houthi/Salih side could not have acquired these and used them against shipping. The missiles are truck mounted and mobile and have an accompanying mobile radar. IMO the three radars struck by the US Navy may well have had nothing to do with whatever happened but they were easily targeted as semi-fixed installations and not well hidden. Some knowledge of Yemen would lead one to believe that C2 is not very tight there and unauthorized attacks could have occurred. The Yemenis do not acknowledge the attacks? Why would they? As to the doubt expressed that the US government can maintain secrecy over an extended period of time this is simply not true. An unclassified example from the Cold War would be the presence of nuclear weapons in the Nike Hercules anti-aircraft defenses around every major American city. Thousands of US Army people served in these defenses and secrecy was maintained. I do not know what happened in the Bab al-Mandab but I doubt that the US really wants to land troops in Yemen to fight in those god awful mountains. I don’t really see what the point would be. would it be to bail out the Saudis in their failed war? That seems unlikely and very out of character for Obama who is, IMO, a trimmer and much more likely to due something fairly invisible like targeting or mid-air refueling. Is it possible that Carter is off the reservation with this? I don’t know. pl

  29. Fred says:

    Since I’m the one who tossed the hyperbole out there please be advised that hyperbole is all that there is. I’m sure the folks on USS Mason understand that pretty clearly.

  30. Fred says:

    Too many Americans are sitting at home being distracted by watching Clinton News Network, More Special Network Bloviating (for) Clinton; reading daily from the Fifty Shades of Grey Lady (NYT) printing press or any of the other various Haven Monahan information-operations campaign by the Establishment politicians and their flunkies against the bloviating billionaire from NYC to know or care about this. Of course the steady drumbeat for yet another war in Ukraine (where the son of the Vice President of the United States just coincidentally serves on the board of the largest non-government gas company), Syria, Yemen, and where ever “our girls” are really can’t get any traction given the importance of what happened three decades ago to some poor lady in first class seating on an airline where everybody else saw even less than the folks in Detroit saw in yesterdays drive-by.

  31. b says:

    @pat – saw claims the UAE is preparing a landing force in Assab in Eritrea where they have a large port and an airport.
    UAE, or better its mercenary army under Australian command, has been quite capable in all its war waging in Yemen so far. I would not dismiss a possible landing by them.

  32. Abu Sinan says:

    The GPC, Saleh’s organisation, release a statement saying that this attack was not done by his group or Houthis, rather it was done by AQAP. It also states that the US was made aware of new Da3sh forces that have recently arrived in Aden, that the US was made aware of this by Yemeni forces. There are a lot of stuff coming both from the GPC and from Saleh about this issue.
    I dont trust Saleh, but I dont see any possible way an attack on a US vessel advances the Saleh/Houthi cause one bit, just the opposite.

  33. mike allen says:

    Among the 140+ killed and 600+ wounded during the 8 October funeral bombing by the Saudis were a number of important Yemeni political and military personalities supporting a peace deal. That surely enabled many hardliners.
    Add to that the probability that the Saudis used American made bombs and remnants of those bombs had markings identifying them as US made.
    IMHO that is enough for Houthi anger to overboil and lead to firing at US Naval ships with missiles; so that it was neither a fabrication nor a false flag.
    I do agree with the Colonel that there is no point for the US in landing troops in Yemen. Why should we bail out the Saudis? We have been squeezing the Saudis to accept a ceasefire.
    On the other hand Colonel, while I agree there was no Snowden-type whistle-blower for nuke-tipped Nike Hercules; I seem to recall that it was pretty much common knowledge at the time. I don’t know whether that was speculation, or rumors sparked by pillow talk of missile crewmembers, or by unattributed leaks to the press.

  34. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    IMO the Nike Hercules thing was not common knowledge at the time and nobody went to the press with the story. Do you have a citation to the contrary? I learned of this as well of the Nike H’s SSM capabilities at the Advanced Course when I was a captain. An air defense officer mentioned it casually during a lecture. I had been on Nike battery positions a number of times and nobody ever mentioned it. I used this example because it is no longer classified. there are many others I could mention but they are still held close by the government. pl

  35. John Minnerath says:

    There was a time not that long ago that military secrets were treated as such.
    Even the news media respected it.
    For a time from the mid 50’s through the early 60’s my father was an Artillery Officer assigned to a number of different Nike missile battalions and was also a classified documents controller.
    As a kid I was full of questions, but of course never got any answers, I remember one pestering session when he finally told me he had security clearances that even the fact they existed was classified, nuff said.
    During my Army years much of what we did was classified, we attended regular lectures about that fact and why and also how to recognize when someone was fishing for information.
    Today’s constant leaking of any tidbit that may have the least bit of confidentiality surrounding it is sickening. And I think in turn that also leads to cover ups non of us want.

  36. MartinJ says:

    The Emiratis are barely able to cope with Aden. Right now the focus is on the north. Last few days saw southerners fighting to take over the border crossing in Sa’ada with Saudi Arabia.
    Furthermore the Emirati backed groups have been unable (or unwilling?) to take the fort near Bab al-Mandab at a place called Dhubab, and another fort in Karish to the north of Aden. I will be extremely surprised at any landing on the Red Sea coast.

  37. MartinJ says:

    while the Huthi/Saleh coalition remains by far the strongest military force on the ground in Yemen it is far from a happy marriage.
    The Huthis have the numbers.
    Saleh’s Republican Guard have the training and equipment.
    Additionally, Saleh has most of the cash, most of the links to major internal players, and most of the intelligence assets. But he doesn’t have strength of numbers. That’s why he needs the Huthis.
    But both are extremely wary of the other. The Huthi leader lives virtually on the run and has not been to Sanaa in many years. They know they are the weaker partner and know that eventually Saleh will have to deal with them before they deal with him.
    I would hazard that this attack is a false flag in the sense that its probably not the Huthis yet somehow they take the blame. The Huthis don’t have their hands on this kind of kit for a start.

  38. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    I have no such citations. I never served at those sites or with former crew or officers. Perhaps it was just a rumor that I heard.

  39. Bill Herschel says:

    We have to knock out the radars, because Houthi’s with radar are incredibly bad mojo. As in $5 a gallon gasoline going into the election.
    So we consult Edward Bernays. He tells us that he is tired being asked the same question again and again and spits the words, “Harm’s way”.
    So the Houthi’s are discovered to have put American sailors in harm’s way.
    Thank you Tidewater for a fascinating post.

  40. Abu Sinan says:

    I agree with Martin on this one. The UAE’s performance so far in Yemen has been underwhelming. Some people want to put forward the retaking of Al Mukalla from AQAP but in reality that was much ado about nothing. UAE negotiated with AQAP and local tribal leaders and AQAP were allowed to leave with their men, arms and vehicles. They went west and have been working independently and with the Coalition.

  41. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater said to All,
    Hey, it’s already been what the British call “POET’S DAY.” Piss off every Thursday… Etc.
    Quinquireme of Ninevah from distant Ophir,
    Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
    With a cargo of ivory,
    And apes and peacocks,
    Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
    Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
    Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
    With a cargo of diamonds,
    Emeralds, amethysts,
    Topazes,and cinnamon,and gold moidores.
    Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
    Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
    With a cargo of Tyne coal,
    Road-rails, pig-lead,
    Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
    John Masefield
    “Wot the hell, Archy, wot the hell”, said Mehitabel. “Take a chance!”
    Brand new VLCC, steaming up the Red Sea from Perim jazarat to Bay of Kamaran,
    Radar-guided by coral reefs, and the hundred isles of Saudi Farasan,
    Atlantic Ocean voyaging to an American City by the Sea,
    And a people thirsty for its cargo of Arabian light crude,
    Pumped over brooding mountains from Marib, The Queen of Sheba’s town,
    Sweet as Virginia bright tobacco, or the Burgundy of Beune.

  42. turcopolier says:

    I’m a St. Estephe guy. pl

  43. The Beaver says:

    Bomb first and then ask questions or investigate:
    The U.S. has yet to determine who was responsible for the launch of missiles at Navy warships in the Red Sea from areas in Yemen in the control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.
    “We don’t know who was pulling the trigger,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said, but the missiles were launched from “Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. Iran has played a role and been supportive of the Houthi rebels.” The Houthis have denied carrying out the attacks

    Russia is responsible for hacking, Iran is responsible for Houthis, wonder what China will be responsible for in the coming weeks?
    Me thinks that Sec Def Carter is playing a dangerous game to stay in place come January 2017.

  44. The Beaver says:

    Ambush of a Saudi convoy on their way to cross over the Yemeni border to enter Saada Governate:
    from what i can gather from different posters of this video.

  45. mike allen says:

    The Iranian Frigate is closer to 45 years old than the 30 years you cited. Although I believe the US has older platforms in parts of our military.
    And I did not imply the Alvand was a to threat to a US destroyer with an Aegis system. The announcement was a nice piece of messaging on their part though.
    What I think the US should do is focus on messaging like the Russians, Syrians and Iranians do. The Chinese and Europeans have much more to lose than we do in the Bab al Mandeb. Well over a thousand ships per month transit that body of water, at least half carrying crude or LNG or manufactured goods from China and the other countries of the Far East. Other navies should be involved. Let the Chinese and the Europeans know that we (meaning the US) are not the sole defenders of those straits. Reconstitute the international naval cooperation (including Iran) that seemed successful against Somali pirate attacks not so long ago.

  46. Andy says:

    There is a huge difference in maintaining secrecy for an authorized and legal military program aimed at defending the US from Soviet attack and secrecy for an illegal order designed to create “wag the dog” lie for political purposes. I do not believe that most of a US Navy crew plus all the others involved or knowledgeable would ever agree to participate in such an illegal deception, much less keep silent after the fact when it became public and was used for political effect.
    In my opinion, absent some actual evidence, the notion that US military personnel possibly participated in such an illegal deception is completely without merit.

  47. mike allen says:

    Tidewater –
    Nice verses, better than Masefield IMO. When do we see more? I don’t believe for a minute that is your first attempt in the genre despite what Mehitabel said. Have you heard any of the ‘Fisher Poets’ penned and recited by “deckhands and skippers, cannery workers and shipwrights, young greenhorns and old timers”.
    I’m a craft beer man myself, but do drink vino with SWMBO when we have pasta or red meat. Instead of your “Burgundy of Beune”, you and the Colonel should try the “Wine of Walla Walla, Washington”. The area vinyards are still young and not as world famous perhaps, but the wines from there are surprising a lot of judges. The weather and soil is better for the grape than Bordeaux and Burgundy. Much of the rootstock came from those regions. We have some great vintners but need to recruit some more. Plus it is half the price of Napa and French wines.

  48. turcopolier says:

    Not sure which “Andy” you are. You are exceedingly naïve. the great majority of people have no idea as to what is legal and what is not. They simply obey orders. Take the case of My Lai. I was required to study the case in depth at the Army War College. the fact was that very, very few people in the company or at battalion or brigade objected to the mass murder or did anything about it afterward. If there had not been some photos handed over to Hersh nothing would ever have been done about it, nor would anything have been known. And then, the officers of the ship involved this case would simply accept “orders” as being produced from the NCA. pl

  49. mike allen says:

    Fred –
    Hyperbole, exaggeration as a rhetorical device? Could be, I did not take it that way. I think if you said it in person to the Mason crew or the captain, they would take it as an insult and respond appropriately. You would get some hyperbolic exaggeration right back. Some of those old salts aboard have played the dirty dozens long before you did. I’d like to record the conversation for posterity.

  50. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Under US Code of Military Conduct, is not an offense also if one suspects that a crime has been committed and does not bring up to the attention of legitimate authority?

  51. Andy says:

    I’m the Andy that’s been around here for a number of years, though I comment infrequently.
    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. In the military I serve in (I retire next month) what is alleged by some commenters in this thread would be virtually impossible to execute and keep secret. I believe this not only based on my estimate of where most service members would draw a red line when given an illegal order, but also for practical and technical reasons that make executing a complex deception like this difficult. If one wanted to create a casus belli for greater US involvement in the Yemen civil war (which, as you noted earlier, doesn’t make much sense to begin with) there are much better and more compartmented scenarios that would have a much greater chance of success. Again, there is zero evidence to support the allegation that this was some kind of US conspiracy – it’s simply speculation and should be treated as such until and unless actual evidence is presented.
    My Lai is not comparable for a number of reasons and even comparable incidents are treated much differently today. Consider the case of the AC-130 attack on the Doctors without Borders hospital in Konduz earlier this year or the Kandahar Massacre perpetrated by Robert Bales. Even the friendly-fire killing of Pat Tillman didn’t stay secret for long. If there is something here it will come out eventually.

  52. Brunswick says:

    Yup, it’s Fleet 44’s 8th deployment to the Somali coast on anti-Piracy patrol,
    Right on schedule.
    One Frigate, on Fleet Supply Ship.
    If I remember right, about 4 years ago they saved a US Flagged tanker and crew from a “pirate attack”, just by showing up to respond to the distress call.

  53. turcopolier says:

    I get the implication that I am out of date, but, you know what I think? People have not changed and given a chance will simply shut up and avoid problems. pl

  54. turcopolier says:

    “Fleet 44?” What is that? pl

  55. turcopolier says:

    Yes. So what? pl

  56. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    I’m out of date for sure. But I tend to think Andy may be right on this. I still subscribe to the Marine Corps Gazette and saw an article there not long ago regarding the laws of war and importance of reporting war crimes and unlawful orders. I am sure there are such in other US military journals and in leadership training programs. I do not have a citation as I get hard copy and the online version is subscription only. I think this is a different generation than us old timers. Not that we were war criminals, 99.99% were definitely NOT. Warrant Officer Thompson and his crew who reported the massacre at My Lai and rescued 16 of the victims are heroes and were not unique to our generation.
    Plus ‘IF’ this is the same Andy whose comments I have read before on your blog, he has posted well thought out opinion. And he has a lot of insight into naval matters. I’d like to hear his comments on this missile attack, but suspect he will wait until more is known and not speculate.

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Only verifying my own understanding.
    It is like the Quranic injunction about promotion of virtue and resistance to vice…

  58. wisedupearly says:

    trouble is, the neocons riding on Hillary’s coat tails are doing everything possible to break any/all cooperation with Iran.
    And our far from fearless friends in Saudi would certainly bitch and moan about any military rapprochement with Iran.

  59. Amir says:

    At 17 sec. you see a screen from the radar operator. Would this image have helped locate the radar operator for the subsequent USN operation to take out the Yemeni radars?

  60. Anna says:

    Some harsh words by a Russian professional for the US “deciders” among the brass: “dilettantes” in American military circles”

  61. LeaNder says:

    I dont trust Saleh, but I dont see any possible way an attack on a US vessel advances the Saleh/Houthi cause one bit, just the opposite.
    Saleh reminds me of Pat’s fascinating post on his experiences there. Yes, AQAP would make a lot more sense.
    MartinJ: Last few days saw southerners fighting to take over the border crossing in Sa’ada with Saudi Arabia.
    I am not up to date with matters in Yemen, but know that you and MartinJ know the place. But precisely does the above suggest?

  62. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, MartinJ.

  63. turcopolier says:

    No one trusts Saleh. He is a great deal like the Mexican bandit leader (Eli Wallach) in the “Magnificent Seven” (the original movie). That is part of his charm. pl

  64. Fred says:

    Be offended if you wish. I’m no longer on active duty and I was discussing the matter on this blog. Feel free to report me. Hopefully NIS has something better to do. Maybe they can explain just how wrong I was in saying “Unless there was no threat…”

  65. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    Yes, CWO Thompson did his duty. Hardly anyone else there did his duty. A bullet in Calley would have been a good idea, Ah! Sorry, that would have been the SF reaction. I don’t know how many service schools were inflicted on you over X number of years, but in my case there were a whole lot of them from the Basic Infantry Officer course to the Army War College. In every one of these schools, the responsibility of the soldier to see US and international law obeyed and the responsibility to report violations thereof were taught as they are now. I hope people do their duty as they understand it but the sad fact is that in the circumstances of crews, units, chains of command, etc. people can often be kept within the bounds of silence. Human nature does not change. The desire to belong to a group, especially in the military context is very strong. Would someone eventually talk? Quite possibly someone would, but not necessarily. In re “Andy,” I have been under the impression that he had served in the Army at some point in past, but that could have been a different “Andy.” we have a lot of people here who have the same or similar names. pl

  66. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    And furthermore the circumstances of an event are often quite ambiguous as to their “legality.” In such circumstance it is easy to establish a standard that requires continuing secrecy. The US government is full of SAPs that DO NOT LEAK. Many have existed for decades and they do not leak. Is the material in all these SAPs “legal” in terms of someone’s concept of legality? The correct answer is no.
    BTW a very old friend (another army person) used to joke that one’s level of intelligence varied inversely with the number of army schools successfully completed times the number of years of service. He called that Lynch’s Postulate. On that basis I am in bad shape. pl

  67. mike allen says:

    Fred –
    Report you for what? Hoof in mouth disease maybe? Happens to all of us sometimes, me too. And I was not offended, I just took it as an insult to the crew.
    So I just thought you might want to ask the question directly to the Sailors and officers of the USS Mason instead of indirectly asking it on this blog.

  68. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    I am also a candidate for your friend’s inverse IQ joke. Although probably more true and not a joke in my case.
    I take your point about many programs not leaking. But as you yourself noted earlier “Let’s not jump to conclusions” when a commenter upthread claimed the event was fabricated.
    I agree.

  69. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    I made it clear that, I too, am not clear about what happened. Lynch was a member of the USMA Class of 1962 so I guess he should have known a lot about military education. When I was in Song Be in Phuoc Long province in 1968 Lynch drove into town from Binh Duong province with the ARVN armored car company that he advised. Absolutely nuts. pl

  70. Andy says:

    One can certainly get a lot of information from videos such as this one, but I think the radar would have been located regardless. The Mason’s electronic warfare suite would give a line of bearing to the radar and then it’s just a matter of intelligence personnel examining imagery to determine the precise location. This is why most modern systems use mobile radars, but it appears in this case the radars were at fixed locations.

  71. Andy says:

    I do agree completely with that.

  72. mike allen says:

    Wised Up –
    Iranian oil tankers also have a lot to lose if the Bab al Mandeb is closed to shipping. The Iranian Navy should be part of any international effort to keep the straits open, like they were with efforts against Somali piracy.

  73. Andy says:

    Thank you or the kind words.
    It’s hard to know for sure the circumstances. Based on past events and the difficulty of over-the-horizon targeting in a crowded waterway, I have two theories:
    1. The missiles weren’t actually fired at the US vessels – they were shot at other ships nearby or along a line of bearing, but ended up flying close to, or inadvertently locking on the US vessels. These missiles systems are not “smart” – they are fired on a line of bearing and are programmed to turn on their homing seekers at a certain point – once that happens they will lock onto the biggest radar signature in their field of view. This is obviously problematic in a crowded waterway without precise location information and the ability to predict where the target ship will be so the weapon will lock onto the correct target. Just as one example, in the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, several C-801 or C-802 missiles were fired at Israeli ships from southern Lebanon – one of these missed the intended target, continued to fly out and eventually it locked onto a Cambodian freighter and sank it. These are dangerous weapons in crowded waterways and the Red Sea is very crowded. (BTW, those looking for conspiracies might consider the possibility that Arab Coalition vessels purposely operated in close proximity to the transiting US ships in order to draw fire). Based on the video from the UAE Swift attack, the Houthi-aligned forces used spotters in small boats to provide positive identification that was likely radio’d back to the radar station so they would know which blip on the scope was the target, which brings me to the 2nd theory:
    2. The US vessels were mistaken for Arab Coalition vessels. Visual recognition, positive identification, and strict procedural rules of engagement are not strong suits for many military forces, which is complicated by the fact that the Arab coalition uses a lot of western equipment. Even in modern militaries that have formal visual recognition training, there are still mistakes in correctly identifying hostile forces. There are numerous historical examples of this.
    To sum up, the denials from the Houthi camp along with the lack of logical reason for them to intentionally attack US forces all lead me to believe this was some kind of mistake. The US strikes on radar stations are a measured response which makes over-the-horizon targeting even more difficult. It doesn’t prevent Houthi alliance forces from firing additional missiles but it makes targeting beyond Yemeni territorial waters very, very difficult. It’s also not a blatantly escalatory counter-attack compared to ther targets (port facilities, C2, infrastructure, etc.).

  74. Andy says:

    PL, I served in the Navy for a number of years before switching over the the Air Force. I did serve with many Army personnel in Joint assignments and was always impressed with their NCO corps.

  75. mike allen says:

    Richardstevenhack –
    I do not believe that I accused you of “claiming the event was fabricated”.
    I simply stated to our host that he himself had asked us not to jump to conclusions.
    Be suspicious, that is a good thing. We all should be leery of things we hear in the press or see on the internet. As for myself, I do not believe the event was fabricated. But would listen to any legitimate proof if presented.

  76. turcopolier says:

    I have had you confused with another. The other guy was an Army MI type in early OIF. I met him and was not impressed. Army and USMC combat arms NCOs are fighter-leaders. That makes a big difference in everything. pl

  77. mike allen says:

    Andy –
    Thanks for the response. Both your theories make sense to me.
    I wonder (I admit I am an amateur and it is way to early to judge): Could it be a deliberate attack on the US by an angry and grieving missileer (no matter whether he was Houthi or a Saleh supporter) who may have lost close kin in the funeral attack? Reports are that many killed or wounded in the funeral hall were from non-Houthi tribes.
    I also note there was another funeral hall attack yesterday the 14th in Marib, Yemen. Not anywhere as bad as the one on the 9th. Reportedly it was on a funeral hall where people were going to express their condolences to the family of “Brigadier Abdurab Al Shadadi, the commander of the third military region who was killed while fighting Houthi rebels in Marib’s Sirwah district on October 7.”
    The Saudis BTW have fessed up but are scapegoating a Yemeni source. Hopefully these incidents and US pressure on King Salman will put an end to it. But blood feuds rarely die out, sadly.

  78. b says:

    False flag or Gulf of Tonkin?
    Well, it was a Gulf of Tonkin attempt. But someone decided to stop the scam now before more comes out: “Just call it a radar male function”
    Officials Saturday night were uncertain about what exactly happened, if there were multiple incoming missiles or if there was a malfunction with the radar detection system on the destroyer.
    Accused Iran – check.
    Demonized Houthi – check.
    Diverted public from U.S./Saudi mass murder in Sanaa – check.
    Took revenge for that UAE transport – check.
    The media, with all this egg on ts face now, will not talk about how they failed for this scam.

    The Centcom commander should be fired over this. Now. And the destroyer commander should do 3 years of latrine duty before being finally fired.

  79. turcopolier says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Wrightson_Nance A man for all seasons? I have known many highly talented senior NCOs. This guy has had a remarkable run, remarkable. More power to him. pl

  80. Fred says:

    Let me refresh your memory. I was responding to Col. Lang’s question, let me quote it here:
    ” I wonder why the USS Mason did not sink attacking small boats with the 20mm, 4500 rds/minute radar trained gatling guns on board. ”
    It’s pretty apparent two and a half days later that there were no boats shooting at USS Mason and thus why they didn’t sink them is rather moot at this point in time. At some point in the future if the Obama or Clinton Administration continues along the line of intervening on behalf of our “ally” Saudi Arabia – against Iran of course – then the points Andy makes about about visual recognition, positive identification, etc are going to be come into play many times. I’m rather doubtful about the quality of those skills amongst the warring parties and that includes our allies. The potential for incidents is going to be pretty damn high, and for what? Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy objects? Europe’s oil and gas supply? Let them send their own navies to defend their own interests.

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