Top US commander Adm. Michael Mullen sees for himself
The visiting Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, carried out a guided tour of Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip over the weekend. It was led by the IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OCs Northern and Southern Commands, Maj. Gens. Eisenkott and Galant.
He was briefed on IDF tactics in a war on all these potential flashpoints in the context of a comprehensive conflict with Iran and then held long conversations with defense minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi.
DEBKAfile‘s military sources report that it is very unusual for the top American commander to carry out a close, on-the-spot study of Israel’s potential war fronts. It was prompted on the one hand by skepticism in parts of the US high command of Israel’s ability to simultaneously strike Iran’s nuclear installations and fight off attacks from three borders while, at the same time, Adm. Mullen showed he was open to persuasion that the IDF’s prospective tactics and war plans were workable.
Military circles in Washington, commenting on the large-scale air maneuver Israel carried out with Greece earlier in June, have opined that 100 warplanes are not enough for the Israel Air Force to destroy all of Iran’s secret nuclear sites; more than 1,000 would be needed. Israel military tacticians in contact with US commanders have countered that, while Iran’s secret nuclear locations are scattered and buried deep, still, every chain has weak links and is therefore vulnerable.
The tough threats issued by Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Mohamed Ali Jafari on Saturday, June 28, were prompted by the Adm. Mullen’s Israeli border tour, word of which was flashed to Tehran by Syrian-Iranian observation posts inside Syrian and Lebanese borders.
(The Sunday Times added that Iran moved its ballistic Shihab-3 missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among its possible targets.)
Saturday, DEBKAfile reported:
The IRGC chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari issued Tehran’s toughest and most explicit threats yet in response to recent reports of Israeli preparations to strike Iran’s nuclear installations.
Hinting at an American attack, he said: “If there is a confrontation between us and the enemy from outside the region , definitely the scope will reach the oil issue.”
After this action (of imposing controls on the Gulf waterway), the oil price will rise very considerably,” he said.
Speaking to the Iranian newspaper Jam-e Jam, Jafari differentiated between Iran’s responses to possible American and Israeli attacks.
The oil weapon would be applied in reprisal for the former – “and this is among the factors deterring enemies”, he said, while “Israelis know if they take military action against Iran… the abilities of the Islamic and Shiite world, especially in the region, will deliver fatal blows.”
Jafari noted that Israel was in range of Iranian missiles.
He said Iran’s “allies in the region” could also retaliate, referring to those living in “Lebanon’s heartland of South Lebanon,” without naming Hizballah.
US forces were “more vulnerable than the Israelis” because of their troops in the region. “Iran can in different ways harm American interests, even far away,”
Jafar warned Iran’s neighbors not to let their territory be used.
“If the attack takes place from the soil of another country … the country attacked has the right to respond to the enemy’s military action from where the operation started,” he said.
June 29, 2008