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IMCMEX-2012 – A Show of Muscles

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

A hypothetical situation has created in which harsh sanctions imposed over Iran would ultimately lead to blockade of the Persian Gulf. Iran would try to block oil shipping lanes to US and Israel, which will be taken as threat to the world trade. With this background, the International Mine Counter-Measures Exercise 2012, code named IMCMEX-2012, started in the Persian Gulf from 16 to 27 September 2012. Navies of 6 countries and 25 (30) nations including US, Britain, Japan, France, Yemen and Jordan are participating. The areas have been divided into four zones North (Bahrain), South (Oman), West Operation (Djibouti) areas and East (at an undisclosed location).  According to a report besides others, the multinational force includes three Nimitz Class carrier groups, having support of 12 battleships. These battleships comprise of Cruisers, Frigates Destroyers and Assault Ships.

It needs to mention here that where fleet of Avenger Class minesweepers will do most of the job but US did not lose an opportunity to market mine hunting, sweeping and neutralization technologies, during the exercise to attract international buyers. As part of Navy’s Mine Counter-Measures (MCM) force will be based on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and her MCM mission. MCM use sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control. MCMs have already been deployed in Bahrain. The preparedness of US Navy can be judged from the fact that during preparation of exercise, US Navy destroyer USS Porter,  a guided-missile destroyer, which was heading for her deployment to the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain collided Japanese oil tanker  outside the Strait of Hormuz, causing huge damage. If we recall, in the past too, USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine collided in the strait with the USS New Orleans in Strait of Hormuz causing oil spill and huge damage.

Vice Admiral John Miller, Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command will be monitoring the exercise from Fifth Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain. In the opening remarks, he said, “This exercise is about mines and the international effort to clear them. Represented here are the best of our individual countries’ efforts dedicated to securing the global maritime commons and I look forward to seeing how this exceptional team of professionals moves forward.” The exercise will prove American hegemony on seas around the globe, in which US and its allies will keep Strait of Hormuz and other chokepoints points open. The exercise will involve setting up of at least four Bases to locate special operation forces, helicopters, and naval units for patrolling. It is pertinent to mention here that US deployed some of its Navy warships, Submarines and Minesweepers in Red Sea, Indian Ocean as well as at Pacific Sea last year which will also sail to new locations to give deception to observers.

Interestingly,  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a statement to media on the day exercise was to commence that Tehran was close to being able to build a nuclear bomb. The massage was propagated as if Tel Aviv seems looking for an opportunity to strike Iranian nuclear and missile facilities and expects Washington to back Israel. However, in a statement, Lieutenant  Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain has refuted that exercise being conducted in connection with possible attack on Iran, “No; this international mine countermeasures exercise 2012 is not being conducted in response to any one particular threat or a specific situation.” It is pertinent to mention here that Tehran, though have much smaller Navy, has caution her fleet and ordered to acquire defensive mode. If we recall, Iran already conducted three days War Game in July this year and fired ballistic and other missiles at desert targets as a warning to threats of military action by Israel and the US. In such a scenario when Iran would resist attacks on its facilities, she may carry out attacks or mine the Persian Gulf, which will disrupt shipping. If such a development takes place, US and allies will make an international effort to clear the mines. During the course if some ship is damaged it would attract international sentiments against Iran.

There are murmurs that Beijing is engaged in its own standoff with Japan, which has placed both the countries at the verge of war and it is the best time for Israel to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. But things are not as simple as they appear. It is the worse time to dare to attack any Muslim country as they have united after filthy attempt to disgrace prophets. Any misadventure would lead to further unifying of Muslim Ummah. Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Paris would have to face some surprises if war actually begins. As today, Iranian Forces have not only Shahab missiles series but they have reverse engineered advance version of Stingers and Russian long range ballistic missiles. The point needs to comprehend is that the US defeat in Afghanistan is sufficient proof to conclude that state of art technology has been defeated by outdated weapons. IMCMEX-2012 is still in progress and it is too early to comments wheatear actual purpose of the exercise has been achieved or not but one thing is clear that militarization of Indian Ocean would not be welcomed by many peace loving nations.

Afshain Afzal

September 18, 2012

Related link – http://tinyurl.com/9oon9cx

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