Thursday, March 9

Why the UAE is so Important to the Navy and America

Some news stories are reporting that the UAE is used for port calls for Naval Shipping. I have also seen some reports that there are more Naval vessel calls to the UAE than to any other foreign port.

Dubai is a critical logistics hub for the U.S. Navy and a popular relaxation destination for troops fighting in the Middle East. On many occasions since the ports story erupted, the Pentagon has stressed the importance of the U.S-UAE relationship.

Last year, the U.S. Navy docked 590 supply vessels in Dubai, plus 56 warships, Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, said in a Senate hearing last month. About 77,000 military personnel went on leave in the UAE last year, he added.

During the hearing, he warned about the implications of a negative decision on the ports deal: “So obviously it would have some effect on us, and I’d not care to quantify that, because I don’t have the facts to quantify it. It would certainly have an effect on us.”

56 warships, that's not so bad you say. I agree, that's about one a week. Look at that other number though. 590 Supply vessel calls. Some of those vessels are Underway Replenishment ships. These are ships that carry fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and food and supply warships at sea. This way, the warships do not have to dock and expose them to risks, like was experienced by the USS COLE. Also, since the warships do not have to dock every couple of days, they can stay on patrol constantly, requiring less ships and 'men' to cover Naval operations.

Now if the UNREP ships cannot load supplies in the UAE they will probably have to go outside the Persian Gulf. This will increase the time it takes for these vessels to reload and return to the fleet. Take a look at this map of the Gulf.

Anything strike you as a threat? Notice how Iraq is all the way in the Northern Corner of the Gulf. Iraq was not a serious threat to Naval vessels mainly because they did not have access to the sea. The story is completely different concerning Iran. First, I am sure we will all remember the Strait of Hormuz and how Iran was using that as their killing zone for Tankers headed to Iraq. The Strait is no less dangerous to US Naval Traffic. Unfortunately, Iran has easy access the the ENTIRE GULF. There is not much breathing room in the Gulf for the Navy to operate in. The Iranians aren't stupid either. They won't gun for the warships. They will go after the cargo and UNREP vessels. Going after the Navy's supply lines. If there is any shooting between the US and Iran, expect good portions of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to be Iran's shooting gallery. The US Navy would be operating in the enemy's backyard.

Which Country on this map is best positioned to assist us? Yep, the very country Congress is working so hard to piss off. Are you paying attention Congress? Are you paying attention House Speaker Dennis Hastert?

I was on a research vessel in the Gulf in 94-95. I had a disagreement with one of the scientists one day when I commented on the idiotic extremes he wanted to go to to "blacken" ship and cover all of the light emanating from the vessel (the ship was painted glossy white.) "You get reports that Iran was attacking vessels in the Gulf. What do you do?" he asked, expecting me to explain how I would conceal the vessel. My reply was the opposite. "I would turn on all the deck lights on and paint red crosses on the hull." He was somewhat surprised at my reply. He made the mistake of asking a follow-up question. "Is that all you would do?" He found my reply unsettling. "Nope, I would also have the lifeboats swung out as I headed for port as quickly as I could." We were a research vessel after all. (And an easy target.)

You can bet that the Pentagon is not trying to figure out it's options. God only knows how many Iran plans not have to be reviewed just in case Naval vessels are no longer welcome in the ports that they can call at now. General Abizaid, gave Congress his two cents about their stupidity yesterday:

Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, took an unusual step for a military leader Thursday, criticizing opposition to the attempted purchase of some U.S. port operations by a Dubai-owned company, calling it "Arab and Muslim bashing."

Abizaid, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, and other military officials were asked about DP World's withdrawal from the deal as they left a briefing of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He said the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, is vital to the military's stake in the Persian Gulf region. The Navy heavily uses the port there.

"I am very dismayed by the emotional responses that some people have put on the table here in the United States that really comes down to Arab and Muslim bashing that was totally unnecessary," Abizaid, who just returned from Iraq for meetings in Washington, told reporters. - WP

So now we hear that there might be some real consequences for American Companies as a result of killing this deal.

It is not clear how much of Dubai’s behind-the-scenes anger would be followed up by action, but Boeing has been made aware of the threat and is already reportedly lobbying to save the ports deal.

The Emirates Group airline will decide later this year whether it will buy Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner or its competitor, Airbus A350. The airline last fall placed an order worth $9.7 billion for 42 Boeing 777 aircraft, making Dubai Boeing’s largest 777 customer.

You can bet that the French are already in the UAE telling everyone how they love them in an attempt to win as much as possible that was originally destined for American firms.

I suspect that the US also lost a huge intelligence treasure-trove. Everyone was running around, yelling about the possibility that someone might get access to something they should not see. Well that works both ways. What kind of intel might the US have gotten access to? Movement of cargo between two foreign ports making it easier to track WMD around the world? What would that have been worth?

At the moment things appear to have calmed down because the US terminals will be sold to a US Company. As dumb as Congress has been lately, it will probably take them months to figure out that the shareholder of the American Firm that will assume ownership of the terminals will be DP World.

This soap opera is not over by any means!

Great Coverage of the results of this Deal:

Dubai threat to hit back - The Hill

More Port "Absurdity" - VI - The Buckle - Macsmind

Abizaid Criticizes Port Deal Opponents - Washington Post

How to create a real security crisis. - Opinion Journal

The Anchoress: Dubai Deal A Bad Play All Around - Descission 08

The Tragic Treatment of the UAE Ports Deal - Strategy Page

An ally has been betrayed... - Called As Seen

Other FFI Posts on the Port Deal:

Congress Reaction "Ignorant, Scaremongering" - Maritime Industry - 8 March 06
NJ Senator Lautenberg - "Dubai Hysteria" Victim - 8 March 06
UAE DP World Port Deal - Endorsed by Israeli Shipping Line - 3 March 06
Congressional Action:UAE DP World Port Deal - "Dubai Hysteria" - 2 March 06
Try this Port threat on for Size - 20 February 06
UAE DP World Port Deal is a Non-Issue - 19 February 06


Anonymous said...

was that the r/v corey chouest(sp?) you were on in 94/95?

Fred Fry said...

I was on a USNS research vessel.