U.S. Announces New Missile Defense Systems in the Persian Gulf

U.S. Announces New Missile Defense Systems in the Persian Gulf

The U.S. announced that it will be expanding both air and sea-based missile defense systems in and around the Persian Gulf. The move is a response to a perceived threat from Iran.

"The chairman has made it clear many times that he remains concerned about the ballistic missile threat posed by Iran, but it would be inappropriate to discuss any mitigation or defense measures we might have in place to deter/defeat that threat," said a spokesman for Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The move builds on an expansion of the missile defense program that started during the Bush administration and has continued to grow under President Obama. It is another arm of Obama’s antagonism to Iran, or maybe his response to Iran’s antagonism of the U.S. which also include Obama asking for more sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. It is clear that Iran continues to try and build up their military arsenal, nuclear or no, with a shipment of missiles seized in Thailand this week bound for Iran from North Korea.

According to General David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, the new deployments are in additon to 8 Patriot missile batteries in 4 unidentified Persian Gulf countries. The moves are intended to obstruct Iran’s short- and medium-range missile threats.

The new U.S. missile deployments will include land-based Patriot defensive missile installations in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain. Sea-based expansion will be on Navy ships that have missile defense systems within striking distance of Iran, as well as greater presence in the Mediterranean.

Much of the Navy fleet is outfitted with Aegis interceptor systems that are capable of cutting off ballistic missiles above the atmosphere- the system has the capability to track 100+ targets.

The system is being put in place as part of a larger plan to secure safety in the Middle East. Combine the U.S. efforts in the war on terror with our operations in Iraq, our continuing presence and support of Israel, and our growing programs to counter any move by Iran and you have a significantly expanding Middle East U.S. military presence. Bringing the troops home from Iraq may be a footnote if this kind of expansion continues.

Since being dubbed part of the axis of Evil, Iran has shown up more and more frequently on the U.S. radar. Most recently, the U.S. has led calls for nuclear sanctions against he country. Those sanctions have not been imposed, and Iran has largely ignored or outright resisted any kind of monitoring efforts. So what is the U.S. doing? Going on the passive-offensive that is setting up massive military and missile systems. Will this have much effect on Iran? Probably not in the diplomatic relations, where I can see Iran continuing to ignore and resist. But it reinforces the kind of assuagement defense that the U.S. and maybe China are capable of. Big military presence not for the fact that it is inflicting any pain or destruction, but for the threat of it. The implicit “We are bigger than you” kind of implication that makes negotiations work for the U.S. We’ll see how it works.

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army (via Flickr under CCL)