A recent article on the Israeli-based DebkaFile reports that a third carrier group, the USS Nimitz, is steaming out of San Diego for the Persian Gulf next week to join the John C. Stennis and Eisenhower carrier groups already in the Gulf. The possibility of a third carrier deployment was first reported in Newsweek over a month ago. If the Eisenhower does not rotate back to the States--and many have speculated that it won't--this will represent the largest U.S. naval air presence in the Gulf since the 1991 Gulf War I.
Many have speculated that the current captive/hostage standoff between Iran and the U.K. might be the spark that ignites a conflict between the U.S./U.K. and Iran. While a limited air campaign might ostensibly be over freeing hostages (how this accomplishes that is anyone's guess), more than likely it would be used to 1) degrade Iran's uranium enrichment production; 2) destroy its ballistic missile sites; and 3) and destroy or disrupt Iran's command and control over its Qods Force and other paramilitaries operating in Iraq. According to several media sources quoting a Russian military intelligence source, this air campaign is code-named Operation Bite and is scheduled to begin sometime around April 6 (Good Friday . . . **sigh**, what a way to bring in Easter Season).
This might not be the first U.S.-Iranian head-to-head confrontation, as this week's Time reports on a still-classified skirmish between U.S. and Iranian forces on the border with Iraq six months ago.
But, as we used to say in the Army, the enemy gets a vote too. So how would Iran respond? We've already seen crude oil prices spike in the past few days over the hostage standoff. What if Iran intentionally limited the supply of crude, either through reducing production or taking military action in the Strait of Hormuz? What if it responded by ballistic missile attack against Israel or Baghdad? What if it just amped up the paramilitary support in Iraq, or launched terrorism and sabotage missions in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere?
In other words, what is our desired goal in this proposed airstrike and does it outweigh the potential costs?