Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Iran Beclowns Obama Again Over Downed Drone - Responds With War Games In Gulf

An event took place which is worth looking at in detail...just in case President Obama trots out the tall tale again that's he's not an appeaser and is decisive when it comes to foreign policy.

This latest episode started when a top secret American RQ-170 Sentinel drone went down over Iran a few days ago.

The Obama Administration's first impulse was to deny it...until the Iranians showed it on state television.

The RQ 170 is a fairly complex piece of gear, and stories differ as to what happened. The DoD says it malfunctioned. The Iranians say they used a top secret technique to bring the drone down electronically.

Such things happen, and knowing what I know about Iran's state of technology, my personal leaning is towards a malfunction.But the real malfunction apparently occurred afterwards, in the White House.

This is a perfect example of the 3 AM call scenario. For whatever reason, we had a top secret piece of equipment on the ground in the hands of our enemies. As ex-VP Dick Cheney relates below, President Obama was presented with 3 options to get the drone back in our hands including destroying it before the Iranians could plumb it's intelligence and the technology involved. His response? To do nothing, because he was afraid Iran might be mad at us...so he just asked for it back politely:

As if the Iranians were going to comply! The first part of their response was to openly mock the president and the US:

"The Americans have perhaps decided to give us this spy plane," Ahmadinejad said. "We now have control of this plane."

Speaking through an interpreter, Ahmadinejad said: "There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane, who can surely analyze this plane's system also. ... In any case, now we have this spy plane."

(ed. note..in Farsi, this could also have been translated as "This plane is now our property.")

He added, "Very soon, they're going to learn more about the abilities and possibilities of our country."

On Tuesday, a semi-official Iranian news agency said authorities have shrugged off the U.S. request. Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said the United States should apologize for invading Iranian air space instead of asking for the return of the unmanned aircraft.

Cheney of course asks the ultimate question..why not simply destroy the ground, ideally when there are a crowd of Iranian technicians poking around it? If our unmanned drones aren't engineered to explode when a certain radio signal or computer code is transmitted to them, a cruise missile would have done the job quite nicely. Instead, the president once again allowed a valuable piece of technology to fall into enemy hands because he was scared Iran,who has been in a state of war with us for thirty years and has been openly guilty of hostile action might take it the wrong way!

The Iranians didn't content themselves with just ridicule. They announced a sequence of 'war games for their navy with the explicit purpose of practicing maneuvers to shut down the Persian Gulf at the Strait of Hormuz, a four mile wide channel though which most of the crude exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq passes through.

The Iranian energy minister told Al Jazeera television last month that Tehran was making plans to use oil as a political weapon if there were any future conflicts over its nuclear rogue program.

They have absolutely no reservations of provocative actions of this sort. You see, the Iranians know very well exactly what sort of man they're dealing with in President Obama.

One final word about the re-engineering, courtesy of Wired...it's unlikely the Iranians can pull it off:

“Someone will figure out the [materials'] composition,” the Boeing engineer explains, “but producing them is entirely a different matter.”

For the drone vivisectionists, it only gets worse. After examining the (alleged) RQ-170′s airframe, they will likely focus on its sensors. We don’t know for sure what devices the Sentinel carries, but it could include video cameras and a ground-mapping radar. The Darpa robot designer says the RQ-170′s radar — if it carries one — could share subsystems with the radars on the latest F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, which might give U.S. adversaries some insight into how those planes operate, too.

But the designer isn’t too worried. “Even if [the radar] showed up completely intact, they may not know how to use it because they don’t know how to use the software.”

Moreover, the software includes classified anti-tamper measures. At least, it’s supposed to, according to the Boeing engineer. “Dumbest thing in the world if it didn’t.”

So maybe we got lucky. Or maybe we didn't. Blowing up the drone certainly would have made sure, and denied the Mullahs a propaganda coup.

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B.Poster said...

The problem with sending in a commando team to retrieve the downed drone or sending a cruise missle to take it out or you have to know where it is within Iran. Given the state of US intellegence, this is highly unlikely that we would be able to say other than making a wild guess as to where it is. Even if you know where it is, it is likely very well guarded. You'd have to get past the defenses and then get the team or teams out afterward. Again, not very likely.

The same problem arises with using a cruise missle. You'd have to know where the drone is. Once again, very unlikely. Its more likely we have not a clue where the drone is. An additional problem arises in that Russian and Chinese technicians are likely assisting the Iranians in working on this. In fact, the lead role is likely being taken by the Russians here. As such, assuming you lcoate the drone and send a cruise missle to take it out Russian and Chinese will be killed. Such an attack would all but guarantee a war with Russia and China. This is a war we can't afford and its even less likely we could win such a war. Even if we could, Mr. Obama would be all but handing the election to his opponent if war broke out.

"...and knowing what I know about Iran's state of technology my personal leaning is towards a malfunction..." I must say I like your optimism!! What is more likely is the Iranians took control of the drone by jamming the signals from its US controllers and using their own technology to gain control of the drone and land it where they wanted to. In the event of a malfunction or loss of contact with US controller, it seems the drone would have been programmed to self destruct. Since the Iranians probably with Russian and Chinese help took control of the drone, they were able to over ride this.

Now regarding the information from "wired" I would like to add that is often times fatal to unerestimate the power of a mortal enemy. No security system is fool proof. Also, since they've likely gained control of the drone, they should be well on their way to cracking all of its secrets. Given the state of Russian and Chinese technology, they will likely be able to assist the Iranians in building an even better one.

The drones have been very successful for us. It was only a matter of time before our enemies would adjust to this. Frankly, I'm surprised it took as long as they did. Now we must adjust.

I'm sure you've heard the report that we've lost another drone. This lends further credence to my theory that the enemy has figured out the drones. Now I hope and pray that you optimism is well founded and that we got "lucky", however, the term I prefer to use is "blessed."

Rob said...

Hi Poster,
I assure you that we knew exactly where the drone went down. They have electronic tracking devices built into them.

I never suggested sending a commando team in to get the drone. It would have been a stupid idea, especially as we can always make another one.

The chief thing is dent Iran the use of any intel it had collected or any look at the technology. A missile would have solved that problem admirably.And I guarantee you, neither Russia or China would go to a nuclear war over a few dead technicians, if in fact any were killed. ( and BTW,it would be Russians,not Chinese - it's the Russians who are helping build up Iran's nuclear infrastructure, not China.)

Given your opinions on the supposed 'all powerful' Russia and China, I'm surprised you're not in a bunker holed up somewhere. The truth of the matter is that as of now, both country's technological levels are far below America's.

As an example, both Russia and China are so lacking in drone technology that they are attempting to buy drones from Israel..which likewise have reverse engineering precautions built into them.

The key point here is that Obama has given us yet another example of his indecisiveness and lack of leadership.

B.Poster said...


Thanks for the reply to my post. When the Iranians, probably with Russian help, took control of our drone they very likely disabled the tracking the devices at about the time we "lost contact" with it. As such, we have no idea where it is. Kind of hard to go after something we that we don't know where it is. Iran is a huge country. It'd be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack.

Even if we locate the drone and send multiple cruise missles at it, the Iranian air defenses that were built with Russian help will likely easily handle these cruise missles. I agree with you sending in a commando tema would be a bad idea. It was mentioned as an option presented to POTUS in a news report. Even if we figured out where it is, it is very well guarded. We'd have the task of inserting the forces into Iran, they'd need to carry out the mission, and we'd need to be able to extract them. This would be a suicide mission for these men and the chances of actually destroying the drone or retrieving it would be almost nil. Again, this assumes we know where the drone is. We don't.

Its true we can make another one, however, it will need to be upgraded with new technolgoy. The enemy has figured this one out. It was only a matter of time before they did. Frankly, I'm surprised it took them this long.

Of course every time we eliminate one of theose people, it is a huge propaganda victory for them!! Does that translate into battle field victories? I'm not sure. Something will have to be done to address the narrative on this war. I'll address that in another post.

The Russians probably don't have to risk nuclear war. The media fire storm against America after the death of Russian citizens would be extreme!! There's be calls for sanctions and it would drive a further wedge between us and "allies" we desparately need. Some serious snactions against America might even be implemented.

There's no point in holing up in a bunker. We have families who depend on us. Also, I don't think the timeing is right for Russia right now. There nuclear arsenal and China's massive numbers at least goes a long way to cancleling out any qualitative edge America might still have. Also, they've eroded that edge in recent years while America has done little to counter Russia's nuclear threat or China's numeric edge.

Israeli drones are likely superior to America's drones and I have considerably more confidence in them than I do in America's leaders. Who is this person from Wired? Is he/she an Obama shill or a they that dumb? I lean toward Obama shill. Either way not good!!

The fact is the Iranians with Russian help have cracked our drone technology and can now control it. The person at "Wiredc" had an opportunity to tell the truth to the readers. Unfortunately they opted to do something else.

I agree wtih your last sentence. The best approach would to redeploy all forces and military assets in the Middle East and elsewher in the world to defensible positions along America's borders and coasts. This way they have a fighting chance to defend our great nation. This would require true leadership. Unfortunately we have none either in the White House or at "Wired."

Good outcomes for America are still possible but we simply must make major adjustments to our foreign and domestic policies. Again, leadership is needed.

B.Poster said...

For this post, I'm assuming we can overcome the enormous challenges with any kind of invasion of Iran. There is another issue we must overcome. We will need ALLOT of help to carry this out. In order to get this help, we are going to need to do something to change the narrative on the conflict with Iran.

The narrative on the conflict with Iran is that it started in the early 1950s when America and Britian overtthrew Iran's democractilly elected government for the purpose of stealing Iran's oil and exploiting the Iranian people. As a part of this, the Americans and Britons installed the repressive Shah who further beat his people and further allowed America and Britain to steal from and abuse the Iranian people. As such, every time America does something to America the Americans "have it coming." When the British embasy was invaded, the British likewise "had it coming."

This narraive is known by all Americans, Europeans, and those elsewhere on planet earth. In fact, in much of Europe and much of the world, it is the only narrative on this conflict they know.

To make matters even worse, many people in the American governmetn believe the narrative. POTUS spent much time around such people. This will likely manifest itself in timid foreign policy towards Iran and perhaps others. They might ask "why should America defend its borders? Its wealth was stolen from the "third world." Shouldn't these people have the right to claim what was stolen from them?

The current narrative on Iran means it is going to be hard to get the assistance we need. Even if we can for a time the narrative will be repeatedly endlessly by the media. This will drive a wedge between us and any allies we might have. In time, the publics in these countries may force their governments to side openly with Iran against us.

The truth is the standard narrative on this is probably not accurate. The truth is likely considerably more complicated. Nevertheless it is the narrative. If we are going to be successful, we need to address it and hopefully change it. How do you suggest we go about doing this?

Rob said...

Hi Poster,

A) Trust me the Russians haven't 'cracked our drone technology'. That's exactly why they were trying to buy drones from Israel.And the Iranian air defenses are no match for a Hellfire or two. The Russians never did give them th eS-300's they wanted, and even if they had, Israel knows how to spook them. Th Syrians had Russki S-300's guarding their nuclear site when it was taken out.

You also might remember a story I did awhile back about a shipment of S-300's that went missing for a few weeks, until Israel told Russia where to find the ship. It was anchored in the water,with both the S-300's and the crew gone.

C) I have absolutely no clue where you got the idea I favor us playing defense in fortress America. It's a bad idea. We 've talked about why before.

D) There's also no need to invade Iran in order to get done what we have to get done. They're a weak, dying nation on the verge of collapse with severe internal unrest. Again, this is something we've discussed before.

e) Please don't try to pull that 'poor third world nation stuff' with me. Mossadegh, the commie we helped take out back in the fifties was a wack job who had already been dismissed by the majlis but was hanging on to power with the aid of the communist Tudeh Party, who were a Soviet surrogate. The Russkis had their own coup planned. We just beat them to it, and it was a lot better for the Iranian people than becoming a Soviet satellite.

F) The US could handle Iran quite easily at this point without allies. Britain and France don't have that much military capacity at this point anyway. Khaddaffi proved that. The IDF might be willing to lend a hand,although perhaps not with this president. They'd probably be better employed mopping up Iran's proxies near their borders anyway.

As for changing the narrative,why bother? You do what you have to do to protect your national interests.

Trust me the Euros and the Arabs might squawk, just as they did when Reagan confronted the Soviets. But underneath, they will be damned relieved the mullahs are back in the bottle.And in case you haven't noticed, both of them have their own pressing economic problems to deal with.


B.Poster said...

You did not suggest you support a fortress America approach. The point I was trying to make is you are correct in your last sentence where you assert that Mr. Obama has not shown good leadership. Then I should have started a new paragraph where I explain what I think should be done. But my proposed solution requires leadership.

I attempted a lengthier reply to your reply to me, however, it was to long. Time permiting I will make it more concises and try again.

B.Poster said...

As I suspected, the Iranians hijacked the drone, at least according to the Iranians. Granted they may be prone to embelish their accomplishments, however, the Iranian engineer said they were able to "spoof" the drone into landing in Iran while thinking it was landing at its home base in Afghanistan. According to the offical they were able to exploit a weakness in the GPS system without having to hack into the radio signals sent from our people to the drone. If the Iranians had managed to hack into the radio signals, it seems the engineer would want to let us know this. This leads me to believe the report from the Iranian is credible.

According to the report the weakness exploited by the Iranians was long known to US engineers. This begs the question why did they not take steps to fix this if they long knew about it? There seems to be a flaw, hopefully not a tragic one, in the US defense establishment of over estimating our own strength while underestimating the capabilities of adversaries and potential adversaries.

I suspect this problem lies in the need to please in order to get ahead. Leaders often want to be told every thing is hunky dory and wish to be surrounded by "yes" people who will tell them what they want to hear but that is for a different post.

Hopefully we are blessed. If the Iranians have been unable to tap into the radio signals controlling the drone then they may not be able to control it and if the flaw that they exploited was long known about by our people then there is likely a fix for it and we can still successfully deploy these things.

I suspect the Russians helped the Iranians in this regard. Also, I suspect the Russians have all of the specs on these things from their sources in the US government. As such, I'd expect them to know as much about these things as our people do within a week. Combining their knowledge gleaned from this with their own knowledge they will probably be building better drones than the captured one within a month and will have them deployed within six weeks or less. Also, combining this with Russia's industrial capabilities which are superior to ours means they will be able to make better drones at a much faster rate than we can. Hopefully I'm wrong. US military and intellegence officals had best not underestimate our adversaries again!!

B.Poster said...

A.) I certainly hope you are right, however, reports seem to indicate the drone was hijacked and "spoofed" into landing where the Iranians wanted it to. I think it highly likely the Russians had a hand in this. The Russians likely have all of the specs for these drones from their soruces in the US. Now with an actualy copy they will be able to combine their own expertise with this and will likely be able to build better drones than the captureed one by the first of the year. This combined with Russia's superior industrial capability means they will be able to maek more drones that are better and faster than what we can do by the end of Jan 2012.

The Russian weapons you mentin were designed to thwart America, not Israel. Israeli pilots are better trained, have better technolgoy, and better leadership than American pilots do. As such, defeating them will be far easier for Iran than defeating the Israelis. At the very least, we'd take major casualties.

C.) You're right you don't favor fortress America. Sloppy writing on my part. Unfortunately we are getting to the point that if our nation wishes to survive it may be the only option available to us.

D.) Iran is a very young nation. It has a vibrant population. Any unrest will only lead to a new boss who is at least as anti-American as the former boss. Essentially meet the new boss same as the old boss. In contrast, America's native population is aging, its infrasturcture is crumbling, it faces massive national debt and unfunded entitlements, its military is word down to the point where even basic antional defense is problematic at best. I think the term dying nation better fits America than it does Iran.

E.) I'm familliar with the narrative you present, however, very few people are aware of this. We need to work on changing this in order to get the support we need for this and other things we need.

F.) The Russians and the Chinese are going to go to the mat if necessary to defend their ally. If we are giubg ti be successful, we are going to need support from allies. It gets awfully cold in those European winters. The Western Europeans depend on the Russians for much of their oil supplies. This will be leverage to get them to stay out. Also, with the current narrative in place it seems unlikely anyone will want to help us any way.

I would like to see countires like Britian and France invest more in their militaries. Then we could have a true NATO alliance with each nation pulling their own weight in a more equal manner. This ain't gonna happen right now though. As such, we need to act in our interests regardless of what they do.

If they will be damned relieved when the mullahs are back in their bottle, then where the h@ll are these people to state the case? Why are they not hitting the airwaves to make the case? Didn't a major Saudi offical buy a major stake in FoxNews. Presumably this would have been to get the Saudi message out. Yet except for over the top critisim of America all I hear is silence. If these people want the mullahs back in the bottle so to speack, they need to speak up and state the case now!!

Rob said...

Hi Poster,

A) I wouldn't be so sure about Russian capability to re-engineer our drone if I were you. And BTW, based on cold hard figures Russian productivity and industrial capacity isn't within spitting distance of ours. The country's economy mostly lives on oil, gas and mineral wealth, not manufactured goods.

B)Again, I can't imagine why you give such high marks to Iran's air defenses. Their air force is negligible,their air defenses are well below par. You'd be amazed what a few daisy cutters or JDAMs dropped in the right places can do, especially when there are only limited and antiquated fighter planes to disrupt the carnage.

D) Take a look at Iran's demographics and birth rate, Poster. Look at their economy, and realize that their opil output is shrinking by about 7% per year due to corruption and antiquated equipment. They're a dying nation.

E) Russia will not intervene, although you'll hear some rhetoric. The Russkis would be tickled pink to see a rival oil producer taken out of the market. China won't be happy because they need to oil, but they're not going to kiss of $800 billion dollars and lose their best export customer to go to war over Iran.

Further, as I said, we don't need Europe to do a pre-emptive strike and take out Iran's nukes. We don't need to invade them.