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By John Helmer, Moscow

The sudden change of US warfighting plans in defence of Israel, disclosed on Saturday by General Lloyd Austin, the US Defense Secretary, reveals the trap which Russia, China, and Iran have opened, and the desperate measures the US has taken as it falls in.

Austin announced  that he has “redirected the movement of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to the Central Command area of responsibility. This carrier strike group is in addition to the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which is currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It will further increase our force posture and strengthen our capabilities and ability to respond to a range of contingencies.”

“I have also activated the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as well as additional Patriot battalions to locations throughout the region to increase force protection for U.S. forces.”

The Eisenhower’s new destination has not been announced. US military media are claiming it will be the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea, or both.

The Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) is officially the Arab and Iranian territories east of the Mediterranean shoreline, focusing on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and targeting Iran, Russia, and China.  

 “In a small change that could have major meaning,” Pentagon officials are telling their press,    “the U.S. is changing its plans for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. The change could place the strike group in waters where Chinese warships have been active in recent months. Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the Eisenhower strike group would head to the eastern Mediterranean instead of Europe as had been planned. Sailing in the eastern Mediterranean would have put the strike group to the west of Israel. But that plan changed after a week in which U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq came under fire from Iran-backed militias, and a U.S. Navy ship in the Red Sea downed missiles launched from Yemen…On Saturday, Austin said in a statement the strike group will now go to the ‘Central Command area of responsibility.’ Central Command covers a vast amount of Middle East territory, including the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.”

The purpose of “these steps,” Austin said, is to “bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel.” The priority order is a switch. Israel comes last – Iran, Russia and China come first.

For the first time too,  the US command has acknowledged what President Vladimir Putin meant when he said in Beijing last Wednesday, October 18,  that he has deployed  MiG-31s armed with Kinzhal missiles within range of the Eisenhower.

Austin added for Sunday television viewers in the US:    “If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict and take advantage of this very unfortunate situation that we see, our advice is: don’t. We maintain the right to defend ourselves, and we won’t hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

The US doctrine of self-defence while attacking states like Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran,  Yemen, and Somalia isn’t new. In September 1969, when Libyan Army Captain Muammar Qaddafi took control of his country, he carefully skirted the US Air Force (USAF) base at Wheelus (Mellaha), which was stocking nuclear weapons at the time; Qaddafi then squeezed the US forces out of Wheelus over twelve months, but the USAF evacuated its nuclear weapons swiftly.   

Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon don’t have time; the Israelis even less.

But Austin’s rush to change the sailing orders for the Eisenhower and fly THAADs and Patriots to US bases in the Arab territories reveals he’s short of time too. This is because the entire portfolio of US air defence systems is being defeated. The Russian Kinzhal has defeated the US Patriot batteries around Kiev; the Hamas swarms of drones and rockets defeated Israel’s Iron Dome on October 7. THAAD has been tested in combat once, against a Houthi missile, rocket and drone attack against Abu Dhabi targets in January 2022. “Several were intercepted, a few of them [weren’t].”

The USS Carney’s firing against Houthi missiles and drones in the Red Sea has exposed how vulnerable that southern line of attack against Israel would be if the Houthis try swarming instead of testing their ordnance, as they did against the Carney. Originally, in the Pentagon  version of Friday, October 19,   three Houthi missiles and several drones were intercepted on their way to Israel. A day later, CNN revised the story by reporting “a US official familiar with the situation” to say there had been a “nine-hour duel” and four cruise missiles and fifteen drones came down.  

Tongue-biting and stammering are clinical symptoms of the mind which knows what to say but has difficulty getting it out; this usually causes loss of self-esteem.  When General Austin is speaking like this, it signals the mind doesn’t know what to say, and is desperate for self-esteem.

Austin also signalled that the Pentagon is preparing rapid deployment forces for evacuation of air and ground base soldiers and airmen in Jordan, Syria and Iraq if they are swarmed by protesters. “I have placed,” Austin said, “an additional number of forces on prepare-to-deploy orders as part of prudent contingency planning, to increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required.” The likelihood that the Pentagon is laying plans for US ground troops to fight to keep the bases is low; secret Congressional briefings are bound to leak if that possibility is entering the US presidential race at this stage.*

Instead, these are Kabul Airport type evacuation missions. The fear in the Biden White House, and the Democratic National Committee, is that US military personnel or other officials may be taken hostage following swarm attacks by the Arabs across the region.

According to a military source near Washington, “Biden got them out of Kabul. [President Jimmy] Carter didn’t get them out of Teheran. If CENTCOM has anything in mind it’s missile defence capability, readiness and base security – and figuring what the hell the Chinese are up to.”

Left: US aircraft wreckage in Iran following the failure of the hostage-rescue mission known as OPERATION EAGLE CLAW in April 1980.   Right: read the new history of US operations against the Arab world.

Russia and China are saying little, doing more.

By redeploying the Eisenhower from the eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, the US has moved the aircraft carrier out of range of Russian Kinzhals in the Black Sea. However, in the Persian Gulf, the Eisenhower will be within shooting distance of MiG-31s and the Kinzhal in the Caspian Sea, as well as other long-range Russian missiles.

Left: According to a US state propaganda agency, Russia has fired long-range ballistic missiles from the Caspian to targets in the Ukraine, including Kiev, between May and October of 2022; flight distance was about 1,800 kilometres. Right: The red line from international waters and airspace of the Caspian to the mid-Persian Gulf is about 1,700 kms. 

In the Red Sea, the US fleet will be within range of several types of Iranian ballistic missiles against which there have been no US combat tests to date. Click here to review the Iranian missile armoury, including estimated range, payload and accuracy.  There is ample evidence that the general staffs of Russia, China, and Iran are currently coordinating in the Persian Gulf, where there was a visible surface navy exercise in March, and since then much that is invisible in intelligence-gathering and sharing, targeting, early-warning systems, and the like.  

According to this source,    the anti-air and land target capabilities of the DC-10 missile arming the Chinese Navy’s Type-052D destroyer now in the Persian Gulf “poses a number of security challenges for the United States. The DH-10 has a low flight altitude that increases its stealth capabilities against the air defense radars. The DH-10 can also be updated during its flight with new targeting data, allowing it to change targets. The stealth capabilities employed by the DH-10 allow it to confuse or outmaneuver the radars and defenses around ships in the region.”  

In March 2023, Reuters reported from Beijing on the naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman with vessels from Russia, China and Iran: “The 2023 edition of the ‘Marine Security Belt’ exercises will help ‘deepen practical cooperation among the navies of participating countries’, China's Defense Ministry said.” Source: https://www.reuters.com/

A Moscow military reporter comments: “in my view, Russians and Chinese should cut to the chase and say, you can try sorting it out with Israel, but here is the red line. Obviously, that red line has no meaning if it is not with the capability to deliver on the threat.”

“Hanging out with or near Israel just became very dangerous,” according to a US military source familiar with the situation. “I think the Houthi firing, trap or not, scared the shit out of them [Pentagon]. The number of drones and missiles the Carney ‘shot down’ keeps going up. It’s not just the missiles they are worried about. Iranian drone technology, and their capacity to get them into the hands of their allies, must be causing alarm. What scares them about the Chinese task force is the range of its cruise missiles as well as its capacity to link up with Iranian and (I assume) Russian air defence radar and targeting networks. They’ve all been practicing together.” 

“Every American and allied base in the region is now under a joint, mutually supportive, Russian, Iranian and Chinese umbrella. In short, a trap.”

[*] American voter disapproval of President Biden's foreign policy performance is growing; the current negative spread of 19 points is approaching the worst it has been in Biden's term. His trip to Israel and unqualified support for the Israeli war against the Palestinians have gained nothing for him  from American voters.

Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/

NOTE:  on Israel’s southwestern front, Egypt is bringing up armoured forces to the El Arish-Rafah area. Media reports from Qatar suggesting the reason is to combat Palestinians moving into the Sinai from Gaza are false.  

“Urgent Local sources and eyewitnesses reported to the Sinai Foundation the arrival of large military reinforcements to the Rafah border area on Thursday afternoon [October 19]. The sources said that the reinforcements included officers, soldiers, military vehicles, jeeps, and tanks.” -- source: https://twitter.com/ 

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