The Mil & Aero Blog
Sunday, September 7, 2008
  Navy confrontation on the Black Sea not as serious as it looks
Posted by John Keller

Lately I've been reading with interest some stories in the press that suggest an armed standoff between the navies of the United States and Russia in and around the Georgia port of Poti on the Black Sea.

My favorite is a story in the The Times of London headlined US warship confronts Russian military in ‘tinderbox’ port.

I had the impression that we had heavily armed warships of the U.S. and Russia tied up at opposite piers at general quarters with snarling gun crews at the ready. Then I noticed the specific U.S. warship involved, and breathed a sigh of relief.

It's the It's the USS Mount Whitney.

This important vessel, the flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, is a joint command ship. It's built to accommodate high-ranking joint-force commanders, and to serve as a combined-forces command-and-control headquarters. It also was the first U.S. Navy combatant to permanently accommodate women on board.

The vessel's stock in trade is shipboard communications. It can handle reams of secure data through HF, UHF, VHF, SHF, and EHF communications links, which enable the ship's joint intelligence center and joint operations center to gather and fuse information while at sea.

While it's C4I capabilities are awesome, the Mount Whitney is only lightly armed. It's got some air-defense missiles and a few guns. Suffice it to say that it just isn't one you'd send by itself into harm's way if you're looking for a fight. It's got too few guns and too many admirals on board to steam to where the shooting is.

Although the Mount Whitney is in an obviously dangerous place, contrary to what you might surmise from the headlines, the Mount Whitney is on a peaceful mission to send aid to Georgia after Russian tanks and soldiers got through manhandling that small country on a mission of intimidation.

Serious fighting surface ships -- like cruisers, carriers, and destroyers -- are designed to make noise and break things. The Mount Whitney, on the other hand, is on station in Georgia to help pick up the pieces
I wouldn't say that. The danger here has to do with back and forth escalating tensions.

For every action, each country has a reaction and it goes back and forth. This is going to go on for months and possibly years.

It will continue to escalate on other fronts around the world.

Example, South America, outside of Venezuela, the Russians plan to hold war games in America's backyard as a reaction to the U.S. sending in ships/aid to Georgia.

Furthermore, Russia is now making claims it has intentions of helping Iran with their nuclear ambitions. The United States will read that signal as a direct threat to their national security and so will Israel. This will in return be met with certain reactions to those situations as well. Then once the USA does something, next Russia does something else and so on... its a neverending cycle that escalates and returns the world to a state of having that finger on the button.

All this starts small, and pretty soon you have a new cold war. Eventually you are on the brink of worlwide destruction again like we had during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Russia seems to be acting out of hurt pride (from losing the cold war, etc.) rather than through any sense of rationale about their future standing in the world.

It's very dangerous and in my opinion you underestimate the situation.
Trevor makes very good points in this comment, and I agree with all of them. After thinking about the points that Trevor makes, I think he might have a better perspective on the situation than I did when I wrote my blog. Trevor's strongest point: underestimating the situation and the danger. I think this poster takes a lesson from history -- we underestimate danger at our peril. John Keller
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