Monday, Dec 01, 2008
Three US aircraft carriers with strike groups, task forces and nuclear submarines have piled up in the waters of the Arabian Sea opposite the shores of India, Pakistan and Iran, and in the Persian Gulf.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US began massing this formidable array of floating firepower at the outset of the Islamist terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai last Wednesday, Nov. 26.
Tehran responded typically with a threat of retaliation should the Americans decide to use the Mumbai terrorist attack to hit Iran.
It is more likely, according to our military sources, that the Americans are on the ready in case the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the New Delhi’s charge of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai atrocity explodes into an armed clash on their border.
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This is indicated by the units now deployed:
1. the USS John C. Stennis, which carries 80 fighter-bombers and 3,200 sailors and airmen and leads a strike group..
This carrier joins two already there, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which patrols the northern Arabian Sea, part of whose strike group cruises opposite Iran’s southern coast; and the USS Iwo Jima, which carries a large marine contingent on board.
2. New to these waters, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, is the Destroyer Squadron 50/CTF 55, which has two task forces: Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) for strikes against warships and the rapid deployment of marines to flashpoint arenas; and Mine Countermeasures Division 31, which stands ready to prevent New Delhi or Islamabad from mining the Arabian Sea routes connecting their ports. Those routes are vital waterways for US marine traffic supporting the war in Afghanistan.
3. To manage this armada, the command and control vessel, USS Mount Whitney, has been brought over from the Mediterranean.
4. Four nuclear submarines.
The arrival of the southwest Asian marine patrol carrier Stennis and the Mount Whitney to the Arabian Sea opposite Iran’s shores set alarm bells ringing in Tehran. Our Iranian sources note that the Islamic republic’s rulers remember that after al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the Americans did not only invade Afghanistan, but also Iraq and they fear a similar sideswipe.
The Iranian chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Ataoallah Salehi sounded a warning when he stated Sunday, Nov. 30: The “heavy weight” of enemy warships provides the Iranian side with an ideal opportunity for launching successful counter-attacks.