Operation Millennium Challenge :: By Matt Ward

The global pieces continue to shift, moving inexorably towards their predetermined prophetic end time places. The election of President Donald Trump is provoking rapid change and causing hasty national realignments, especially in the field of international relations.

President Donald Trump is proving to be a mighty catalyst for change; relationships are being reset across to globe. Nation states that have for so long taken for granted their dependence upon the United States are now reassessing their positions. Equally, other nations that had relied upon the inactivity of America—even in the face of overt provocation, especially during the Obama years, are coming to terms with an entirely new reality in 2017.

Iran so easily outmanoeuvred and manipulated the former Obama Administration, are finding that the belligerence and harsh rhetoric that worked so well to subdue Barack Obama and John Kerry, holds no sway whatsoever with Donald Trump, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and U.S. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Iran is coming to terms with the fact that it doesn’t matter how loud they shout anymore, nobody is listening, and certainly nobody is intimidated. In spite of this, and in direct defiance of a whole raft of UN and U.S. nuclear accords, Iran continues to openly and very aggressively test their burgeoning ballistic missile technology, all the while continuing in their vile rhetoric toward Israel and the “Great Satan”—America.

To this end National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been specific; Iran are officially “on notice.” Trump has gone even further, stating plainly that Iran are “playing with fire.”

A clear read line has been put down by Trump and his administration regarding Iran. Unlike Obama, who allowed his own red lines to be constantly and very publically transgressed for  eight long years, Trump and his administration will likely prove to be as good as their word.

Iran’s immediate response was to dismiss Trump as a ranting extremist, and “vigorously” reaffirmed their commitment to increased future ballistic missile testing and development. They proved as good as their word the very next day, testing another ballistic missile in direct breach of signed accords and in defiance of the Trump personally.

Confrontation lays ahead. This path may well lead to war between Iran and the United States and this brings dangers, not just for the United States of America but for the entire world, the Middle East and Israel specifically.

In 2002, unknown to many outside military circles, the Pentagon and the U.S. Military war-gamed just such a war with Iran. The war game was code named “Operation Millennium Challenge.” It has gone down in infamy as a lesson in how not to fight a rogue, terrorist nation (much like Iran) if you are a large superpower with heavy fixed military assets, like aircraft carrier battle groups.

Operation Millennium Challenge was an utter failure. Running between July 24th and August 15th 2002, at a cost of over $250 million, Operation Millennium Challenge pitted one nation state referred to as “Blue,” which was the United States, against another rogue Middle Eastern nation, “Red.”

“Red” wasn’t a fictionalized Middle Eastern nation though, in the war game “Red,” in real terms represented Iran. The United States was war gaming a confrontation with Iran that had turned “hot.”

Red, or Iran, was commanded by legendary US Marine Corps General, Paul K. Van Riper, a recipient of two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, a Legion of Merit and a Purple Heart. From the beginning, as commander of Iran, Riper put the United States on the back foot. Even though the U.S. were able to bring to bear much more powerful and sophisticated military assets than the Iranians could ever hope to, General Riper was able to assume a momentum early in this war game that the United States simple could not pull back.

Unbelievably, and quite shockingly, Iran comprehensively defeated the technologically superior and hugely more powerful United States of America, in the first running of Millennium Challenge. Such a result caused widespread shock and disbelief in the U.S. corridors of power. U.S. war planners were horrified.

Former Marine General Ryan, assumed commander of Iran, achieved this relatively easy victory against a vastly superior U.S. force by employing old fashioned World War II era, asymmetrical tactics. To counter the vast technological superiority of the U.S. military machine, General Ryan used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to the front line and World War Two era light signals to launch his aircraft, therefore eliminating the need to use intercept-able modern telecommunications to control his forces. This nullified much of the U.S.’ technological superiority. The U.S. had no idea the Iranians were coming.

Augmenting this early advantage, General Ryan went onto the offensive against the United States from the very beginning, to devastating effect. Early in the war game Iran received a written surrender demand from the United States of America. Ryan used this pre-warning of a US attack as the trigger to launch a full scale pre-emptive strike against U.S. maritime assets in the Persian Gulf. The attack caught U.S. forces completely off guard.

Using a fleet of small boats to determine the location of the U.S. fleet, Iran then preemptively launched a massive barrage of land based cruise missiles at the approaching U.S. fleet, completely overwhelming the U.S. fleets electronic sensor and missile interception systems. The results of this attack were beyond devastating.

Iran were able to destroy sixteen U.S. warships, including one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five out of six amphibious ships. Translated into real life, such an attack would have resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 US service personal in one attack.

At this point the war game was suspended, whilst “Blue” or the United States’ military planners simply “re-floated” all their sunken ships. The U.S. military planners were so horrified by the outcome that they just ignored the result, reset the U.S. board and pretended that the mass sinking of much of an entire U.S. fleet never happened. To make matters worse, the military planners then changed the rules of engagement for Iran; the participants were forced to follow         a script that would ensure the victory of Blue over Red.

U.S. military planners cheated because they had been so overwhelmingly defeated. When Operation Millennium Challenge recommenced, Iran were ordered to turn on their anti-aircraft radar so that Blue US forces could then destroy it, and were completely forbidden from shooting down any aircraft bringing U.S. troops ashore. Riper later claimed that he was even ordered to reveal the location of certain Red assets to Blue, and was forbidden from using certain specific types of tactics and ideas against Blue, as well as being restricted in the types of weaponry he could employ.

The war game became a farce because the US military found that they had no way to defeat Iran without also incurring terrible loses of their own. This was because any war with Iran would initially be a sea war in the Persian Gulf, not a land based war as Iraq was.

Millennium Challenge highlighted the key strategic issues involved in America fighting a rogue nation like Iran; their unpredictability and their readiness to use unconventional tactics preemptively against a vastly superior US force.

Iran effectively used the US Navy’s biggest assets against them; vast and huge naval flotillas. Though the US Navy today does enjoy absolute naval supremacy, it is only out on the open seas. US aircraft carriers rely on defensive systems that detect incoming threats whilst they are still over the horizon, whilst the threat is still a considerable distance away. Preferably hundreds of miles away.

Following detection of any threat sophisticated counter measures, the Aegis anti-missile system, kick in to engage and destroy all incoming threats, whilst they are still some distance away from the carrier group. For this system to work any US carrier group requires significant amounts of clear space all around in which to detect the incoming attack.

In an environment like the Persian Gulf or the Straits of Hormuz, hugely busy sea lanes that are only twenty miles wide in some places, there simply is not the space required for US systems to detect and counter incoming missile attacks. Their electronic defensive systems become all but useless.

The layered defense operated by a carrier strike group does not have enough space and therefore time to work properly in an environment like the Persian Gulf, so they become exceptionally vulnerable to attack.

Traditionally, the threat of a full carrier-strike group anchoring offshore has always been a cornerstone of U.S. deterrence. The sinking of a U.S. aircraft carrier would likely be the defining moment when the era of perceived U.S. global military dominance would come to an end. Any such event, and then no doubt magnified by 24 hour news coverage, would almost immediately alter the entire global balance of power. In the wake of such an attack American security assurances would not carry anywhere near the kind of weight as before, especially with a carrier sitting at the bottom of the sea.

In such a reality, it would then be open season on countries like Israel because the veneer of American military dominance would have been comprehensively shattered.

It is naive to assume, as so many do, that nations like Iran, or China for that matter, are not preparing for this kind of eventuality. It is clear that Iran and China are both intent on carving out for themselves spheres of influence in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

The United States, especially now that Donald Trump has become president stands directly in their way. Every indication coming out of Iran is that they know a confrontation may be coming, and they are readying themselves for it. Equally China are readying their military for an inevitable confrontation with America over the hotly disputed South China Seas.

Soon a man will emerge who will seemingly hold the answers to all the problems afflicting this world. His emergence will foreshadow the beginning of the Tribulation period itself. By the time of his eventual appearance chaos will have ensued, and American military dominance will have been over turned, either subjugated or gone forever. My personal belief is that this will come about as a direct consequence of the rapture of the Church. However, I am also mindful of how very easily in our modern age it could happen because of just one stray cruise missile.

In late January, just over a week ago, the US air craft carrier George H. W. Bush and its supporting strike group, deployed for the Middle East supposedly to assist in the war against terror. It is more likely and realistically on a direct collision course with Iran in the Persian Gulf.

It is no exaggeration to say that in such an approaching confrontation the future of U.S. global military dominance could be at stake. Sink just one aircraft carrier and the world in which we live will be a completely different place the very next morning.