President orders "shoot down" on harrassing Iranian ships

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President orders "shoot down" on harrassing Iranian ships

Although nost of the focus here has been on "shooting down" of boats (perhaps inartfully articulated), the threat here and the "orders" are deadly serious.  And the "order" such as we have available from the tweets, seems good to be to at least put the Iranians on notice that we are done playing this game.


The commander in chief has issued a stark warning to Iran a week after 11 Iranian boats swarmed U.S. ships operating in the Middle East.

"I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The Navy last week released photos and a video showing the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' navy boats making what the service described as repeated "dangerous and harassing approaches" near U.S. ships operating in international waters. The boats swarmed the Navy and Coast Guard ships for an hour.

I'll go on to the rest of this issue in a minute, but there was one article from Military Times that seems odd to me.

“My interpretation is that this is the unique way that our President communicates to the American People and the international audience,” he said in an email message. “In my opinion, Tweets are not a good way to convey military orders. Our military organizations look for official instructions that guide our operations — those come through more established processes.”

Votel said that if he were still in uniform, he would “be paying attention to the specific instructions that were coming through the DoD chain of command."

“Actions in these areas are guided by the Law of Armed Conflict; Rules of Engagement; and the authorities delegated to Combatant Commanders by DoD Execution Orders (EXORDs),” he said. “The EXORDs are the official way we communicate orders and instructions.”

Having been retired for a little more than a year now, Votel said he has “no insight into what may be taking place in this sphere right now.” But, “as you experienced while traveling with me — our Naval forces are quite adept at dealing with these situations and have well-developed and practiced procedures that they employ. I remain very confident in their ability to continue to do so. Likewise — we have lots of tools to deal with this.”

This seems like an article in search of an issue.  I'm pretty sure there was more to the "order" than a tweet to "shoot down" navy ships.  I'm not even sure Votel wasn't saying just that, that he couldn't really comment based on a tweet. 

From another MIlitary Times article:

Two senior Defense officials who briefed reporters on Wednesday could not confirm whether the tweet amounted to a direct order to commanding officers in the gulf.

“The president issued an important warning to the Iranians,” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said. “What he was emphasizing is, all of our ships retain the right of self-defense.”...

Trump clarified his tweet Wednesday evening in his nightly press conference from the White House.

“No, that’s the rules of engagement,” Trump said when asked if his tweet amounted to a change. “That’s a threat. When they get that close to our boat, and they have guns, they have very substantial weapons on those boats, but we’ll shoot them out of the water.”

This seems to confirm what I thought above, that this wasn't an "order" per se.  But it does put the IGRC on notice that "self defense" could be viewed more expansively.

Did the Iranians get the message?

The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned Thursday he ordered his forces to potentially target the U.S. Navy after President Donald Trump’s tweet a day earlier threatening to sink Iranian vessels.

Iran separately summoned the Swiss ambassador, who looks out for America's interests in the country, to complain about Trump's threat coming amid months of escalating attacks between the two countries.

“We have ordered our naval units at sea that if any warships or military units from the naval force of America’s terrorist army wants to jeopardize our commercial vessels or our combat vessels, they must target those (American) warships or naval units,” Salami said.

Yeah, I don't see that working out too well for the IRGC. 

Here's the video of what percipitated the discussion:


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.