Jerusalem – A leading U.S. Navy commander said NATO should prepare for Iranian missile strikes on member states.
U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Sandy Winnefeld said in a magazine article published this month that an Iranian attack on Israel was the most likely scenario and would demand a response from the Western alliance.
“Perhaps most worrisome of the threats in the region is Iran’s increasing ability to quickly launch ballistic missiles in an attempt to overwhelm Israel’s organic defensive systems,” Vice Adm. Winnefeld said. “This is, in my opinion, by far the most likely employment of ballistic missiles in the world today, and it demands our immediate attention in the event of a need for a U.S. or NATO response.”
Vice Adm. Winnefeld, in an article titled “Maritime Strategy in an Age of Blood and Belief,” for the U.S. Navy’s Proceedings Magazine, said Iran could be provoked into a massive strike by what he termed an “isolated, and perhaps seemingly unimportant, event.” The commander said the U.S. Navy must deploy missile defense assets and rapid-response forces to counter the Iranian threat.
“While U.S. Navy missile-defense capability need not be on-station all the time, it needs to be present in the theater conducting other missions, ready to respond quickly as needed,” Vice Adm. Winnefeld said. “It would be wise for several of our very capable European partners to consider achieving this capability as well for their own defense against this threat.”
In the article, Vice Adm. Winnefeld called for enhancement of NATO and U.S. capabilities in what he termed maritime domain awareness, the understanding of vessels, people and cargo in a naval arena. He said this would require intelligence and operations integration.
“While our capable and highly valued maritime partners are present in the Mediterranean on a daily basis, there is a broad disparity among them regarding the threshold for action before or during a crisis,” Vice Adm. Winnefeld said. “However, farther south lies an area with great promise for coalition maritime action.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008