Key Point: The problem is that Washington hasn't learned from its past mistakes and Iran could still sink a carrier under the right circumstances.
As tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf region, it’s worth recalling a 2002 Pentagon war game in which a U.S. Marine Corps played the part of an enemy commander waging a bloody defensive campaign against a much more powerful U.S. force.
Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper’s own hodgepodge of troops, ships and planes was similar in organization and capability to Iran’s actual forces. Van Riper’s success in blunting a simulated American assault could reveal how Tehran might fight in the real world.
“The exercise was called Millennium Challenge 2002,” Blake Stilwell wrote for We Are the Mighty.
It was designed by the Joint Forces Command over the course of two years. It had 13,500 participants, numerous live and simulated training sites, and was supposed to pit an Iran-like Middle Eastern country against the U.S. military, which would be fielding advanced technology it didn't plan to implement until five years later.
The war game would begin with a forced-entry exercise that included the 82nd Airborne and the 1st Marine Division. When the blue forces issued a surrender ultimatum, Van Riper, commanding the red forces, turned them down. Since the Bush Doctrine of the period included preemptive strikes against perceived enemies, Van Riper knew the blue forces would be coming for him. And they did.
But the three-star general didn't spend 41 years in the Marine Corps by being timid. As soon as the Navy was beyond the point of no return, he hit them and hit them hard. Missiles from land-based units, civilian boats, and low-flying planes tore through the fleet as explosive-ladened speedboats decimated the Navy using suicide tactics. His code to initiate the attack was a coded message sent from the minarets of mosques at the call to prayer.
In less than 10 minutes, the whole thing was over and Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper was victorious.