Andrew Schoerke's analysis of recent events pertaining to the U.S.-Iran stand-off pays special attention the movement of U.S. naval forces.  --  Noting the return of a number of U.S. battle groups whose stays in the Mideast were extended but that are now heading back to the U.S., Schoerke writes:  "The apparent stand-down of U.S. Naval Forces in the Persian Gulf region may signal that the Bush administration no longer believes that a show of a powerful U.S. naval force is necessary or productive. . . . Remember, though, that on May 24 the clock runs out on the increased sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council on March 24."  --  Andrew Schoerke is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve captain who is also a member of Vermont Peace Train....


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NAVAL ACTIVITY UPDATE
By Andrew Schoerke

UFPJ-Iran
May 4, 2007

https://lists.mayfirst.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/ufpj-iran/2007-May/000239.html (members only)

Iran Update 5/10/07 [sic -- 5/1/07?]

The Nimitz Carrier Strike group left San Diego on April 2 for the purpose of relieving the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group which is on station in the northern Arabian Sea. The Eisenhower left San Diego last October 3 for a six-month deployment and has been in the 5th Fleet area of operations since November 3. Even if it started back now, and took the normal four week transit time to return to San Diego, it will have been deployed for a total of eight months, two months longer than a scheduled deployment. The duration of the Eisenhower deployment is exceeded only by the ten-month USS Abraham Lincoln marathon which lasted from July 2002 to May 2003, when Bush used it as a prop to announce “Mission Accomplished.” As of May 1, the Nimitz was in the South China Sea and still enroute to the Middle East.

In the meantime, the USS Boxer amphibious strike group departed the Persian Gulf on May 1, having left San Diego with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on September 11, 2006. By the time it returns to its home port, it will have been deployed for eight months; one month longer than normal. The Boxer is being relieved by the USS Bon Homme Richard amphibious strike group, with the 13th MEU embarked, which left San Diego on April 10; by May 2 it was near Guam. Since the amphibious assault ship, USS Saipan returned to Norfolk in early March, there is, for the first time since March, 2006, only one amphibious strike group, the USS Bataan, in the Persian Gulf. During their deployments on board the Boxer and the Bataan, the Marine Expeditionary Units disembarked from their ships and conducted joint training exercises with neighboring countries including Kenya, Djibouti, and India. They also escorted supply convoys, conducted security patrols and engaged in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.

Items of interest regarding Iranian activities include several uncorroborated reports which appeared in foreign newspapers. The *London Daily Telegraph* and the *Sunday Times* carried an article about a terrorist attack being planned in Iran. The basis of the information contained in the article was a leaked report from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre of MI5, which warned of a large-scale attack against England by an al-Qaeda/Iran terrorist link. The Middle East News Line carried a story on April 24 which stated that Israel’s military had determined that Syria deployed Iranian-origin cruise missiles of the type that was used successfully against an Israeli ship during last summer’s Lebanon war. Finally, on April 18, the Pentagon announced that a shipment of Iranian-made weapons bound for the Taliban was seized in Afghanistan. This was the first time that the U.S. military had officially asserted that such weapons were being supplied by Iran. Similarly, the Israeli newspaper, *Haaretz*, quotes the Commander of the Israeli Defense Force, Southern Command, as saying that Iranian terror and guerrilla experts are in the Gaza Strip training and providing weapons and explosives to Palestinian terror organizations.

The apparent stand-down of U.S. Naval Forces in the Persian Gulf region may signal that the Bush administration no longer believes that a show of a powerful U.S. naval force is necessary or productive. Perhaps the backdoor diplomacy being conducted between the United States and Iran, while joining in meetings with Iraq’s neighboring states to promote regional stability, will, as a minimum, reduce the chances of an accidental incident between Iranian and U.S. naval forces.

Remember, though, that on May 24 the clock runs out on the increased sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council on March 24. At that time Iran, in direct defiance of the U.N. Resolution passed on December 23, refused to reduce its uranium enrichment program.