Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TTP for Anti-Ship Missile Launcher Sites

Galrahn at Information Dissemination is talking about a possible Iranian missile base in Eritrea, and the Israeli (possibly related) naval activity in the Red Sea.  If Iran is building an anti-ship missile base in Eritrea to close down the Suez Canal, that will certainly give Iran a lot of leverage over Europe.

So naturally, there is a military need to shut down this missile base.  Incidentally, I have an anecdote that is relevant to this situation.  Hopefully, if you are planning for a similar scenario, you will find this useful.

About 10 or 11 years ago, I was in a seminar.  The conclusion of the seminar was a military planning exercise.  The scenario was, surprise, an Iranian missile launch site on one of its Strait of Hormuz islands.

The conditions of the scenario were:
1.) The missiles [Silkworm?] and their launchers were housed in a concrete blast-resistant bunker.  The bunker has clamshell doors on opposing ends, allowing the Iranians to launch missiles after they open the doors.  The bunker construction precludes a Tomahawk strike.
2.) The post had SHORAD weapons, and nearby air bases limit air strike options.
3.) The post had a small garrison, squad to platoon size, including the missile technicians.
4.) Ground reinforcements were 4 to 8 hours away.
5.) A Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable) and its Amphibious Ready Group were within flight range.
6.) Iran had just declared the Strait of Hormuz closed, and we have observed activity at the post to make the missiles operational within 24 hours.

The mission was, To absolutely, positively disable the facility.  Because of the bunker construction, an air strike might leave the missiles operational.  So a ground presence is necessary regardless to ensure the facility's destruction.

Obviously, they structured the parameters to force a platoon/company raid on the planners.  Which is basically what we all came up with.  I used the mortars to take out the radio tower/antennae before starting the assault, while others went after the garrison right away.

The challenge here, though, is the bunker.  One guy suggested using Dragon missiles to blow the doors, but the Marine Colonel, who facilitated the exercise, said that had a high likelihood of failing.  The Colonel said that he would have used C-4 explosives to breach the bunker.  Just had to make everyone schlep a bag of C-4 onto the objective.

My idea, though, was to bring some quick-setting cement along the raid.  A few engineers will mix the cement on the objective, and fill in the seams around the blast doors.  By the time the reinforcements arrive, the cement would have cured.  They thus cannot open up the bunker doors, rendering the bunker, and the missiles inside, useless.  With a sealed bunker, the Iranians would have to either build a new bunker, which takes time, or site new missile launchers in the open, which is ripe for a Tomahawk strike.

The Colonel thought it was a neat idea.  Hopefully we never have to try this idea for real.

[You might think of a SEAL raid in the beginning, but a SEAL platoon (14 people) possibly cannot schlep enough stuff to take on the bunker.]

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