Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Iran Harassed The US Navy Under Obama. Here's Why It Stopped Under Trump
Iran's navy made a point of harassing and humiliating U.S. Navy vessels in 2016 after then-President Barack Obama sealed the Iran nuclear deal, but the U.S. says things have changed since August 2017.
"It seems like they've absolutely made a conscious decision to give us more space," Navy Cmdr. William Urban recently said. "That is definitely a change in their behavior."
During Obama's presidency, Iran would charge Navy ships with fast attack craft, buzz fighter jets with drones, and even shine lasers at helicopters operating at sea.
But the worst, most embarrassing incident occurred in January 2016, when Iran's navy seized two Navy riverine boats and the 10 sailors on board after the ship wandered into Iranian waters due to mechanical issues. They broadcast footage of the sailors, crying, in detention, on television across the country. Iran later announced plans to build a monument commemorating the event.
U.S. Navy riverine sailors detained by Iranian forces on Jan. 12, 2016 off Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.Fars News Agency
Later that year Iranian ships conducted "unsafe and unprofessional," and often taunting, maneuvers around Navy ships in the Persian Gulf five times in about a month.
In September of that same year, Trump addressed Iran while on the campaign trail. "When they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water," Trump said.
Shortly after Trump's election, the incidents noticeably stopped despite Trump's open hostility towards Iran, compared to Obama's attempts to appease them.
The "openly acknowledged there was a shift that happened roughly around the time we had our political transition," Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. "There was a status quo and the status quo changed."
According to Schanzer, the Trump administration gave no official warning to Iran over the naval incidents, but instead, "the unpredictability of Trump has made Iran more reticent to test American red lines."
Compared to the U.S. Navy, the best on earth, Iran's navy just treads water. Iranians, even the hardliners, must know their small attack craft can't pose a meaningful threat to U.S. ships, and even if they could, U.S. retaliation would devastate the forces.
Instead, rushing U.S. ships and putting them on the defensive, as well as capturing sailors, works mainly for propaganda purposes for Iran, whose authoritarian regime controls the media and pushes a heavily anti-U.S. agenda.
Iran's fast attack craft, the type repeatedly used to harass U.S. Navy ships.Fars News Agency
With Trump similarly focused on optics and pledging to revitalize the U.S. military, Iran may have pivoted towards quietly pursuing its foreign policy goals, rather than making a scene that Trump could react to violently.
"There's another side of this," said Schanzer. "They understood that there was a change in the rules of the risk/reward calculus, but they also seem to understand that there was less of a policy with regard to their regional activity from Yemen to Iraq to Syria."
So while Iran has dropped the very visible, U.S.-centric naval run-ins, it's picked up on recruiting militias, deploying its armed forces to Syria, and supplying anti-U.S. and anti-Israel militant groups.
"They realize if they want to actually achieve their objectives across the Middle East, they needed to dial back on the harassment that would needlessly provoke the U.S.," Schanzer said.
Read more from Business Insider:
- MS-13 is a street gang, not a drug cartel — and the difference matters
- Take a look at Arctic Edge 18 — where the U.S. military is preparing to fight in the extreme conditions
- China's growing submarine force is 'armed to the teeth' — and the rest of the Pacific is racing to keep up
- North Korea reportedly agrees to hold summit preparation talks in March
- An Army sergeant explains why you don't want to see the massive M777 howitzer lowered all the way down
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.