October 14, 2016

Yemen Displays Obama Failures in a Nutshell

Just what did retaliatory strikes accomplish in this proxy war?

The events of the last two weeks off the coast of Yemen encapsulate Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy — and highlight just how badly it has failed America. So, let’s review what went down and take in the lessons.

On Oct. 1, HSV-2 Swift, a former U.S. Navy vessel owned and operated by a firm in the United Arab Emirates, was attacked, suffering damage from at least two RPGs. The United States sent the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94), along with the interim sea based USS Ponce (ASFB(I) 15), to assist the damaged vessel. Houthi rebels sponsored by Iran are believed to be the culprits.

On Oct. 9, two anti-ship missiles, believed to be Noor anti-ship missiles (essentially Iranian copies of the Chinese C-802), were fired at the USS Mason north of the Bab el Mandab, a maritime choke point connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Mason used a Nulka decoy rocket and a combination of RIM-66 SM-2 Standard Missiles and RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles to defeat the attack. In other words, active defenses were needed to save the lives of dozens of sailors.

Then, on Wednesday, the Mason came under attack for a second time, and again defeated the attack. One news report indicated that the Houthi may have used small skiffs to provide targeting information for the missile attack.

“The ship employed defensive countermeasures, and the missile did not reach USS Mason. There was no damage to the ship or its crew,” a Department of Defense statement said. The Navy stated that the destroyer was continuing its operations in the area, and vowed that “U.S. commanders retain the right to defend their ships, and we will respond to this threat at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner.” The response was a three-Tomahawk salvo from the USS Nitze to destroy radar sites on Yemen’s coast.

While the Navy reported that all three targets were destroyed, this response highlights the problem with Obama’s policies in the region. The Tomahawk response should have been carried out immediately after the first attack on the USS Mason, once the incoming missiles had been defeated. There is precedent for this: In 1981, when two Libyan Su-22 Fitters fired on U.S. Navy F-14s, the Tomcats shot them out of the sky. President Ronald Reagan elected not to respond further, because the immediate response sent the right message: Don’t start a fight — you will lose.

By waiting to shoot back, and then delivering a pinprick in response to Iran’s clients, Obama has projected weakness. A far better option would’ve been a more muscular response (say, an Alpha Strike from a carrier). As it stands right now, Iran’s clients have lost three radar stations — stations that may be secondary to the small skiffs they use as scouts and pickets — but have damaged one ship, and may well still have additional Noors to shoot.

Furthermore, here’s something else to think about: How was Iran able to get those missiles to the Houthi in the first place? Anti-ship missiles, while not the biggest line item in a defense budget, still don’t come cheap. Yet the Houthi had enough to carry out two attacks on the Mason in less than a week’s time. Did Obama’s $1.7 billion in ransoms help pay for the missiles? Or did Iran have a bigger defense budget thanks to the lifting of sanctions after Obama gave away the store, which meant they could make and pass off more missiles?

Then we get to the rules of engagement. It defies imagination that the crew of the Mason was unaware that small skiffs were being used to provide target spotting for the anti-ship missile attacks. Restrictive ROEs have been an issue with the Obama administration before. That needs a re-think as well. A seemingly unarmed small boat could be rigged to carry high explosives — and in a chokepoint like the Bab el Mandab, such an attack could very well be devastating to a ship.

Finally, we need to take a long, hard look at our Iran policy. Despite Obama’s appeasement, Iran has not become friendlier to the United States, nor has it given up its goal to destroy Israel. If anything, nearly eight years of Obama now has Iranian clients shooting at our ships. That, more than anything, shows how badly his Middle East policy has hurt the United States. That no American casualties were suffered in those attacks is due to the skill of the crew on the Mason and her advanced technology.

Make no mistake: This is a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and it’s happening in large part because Obama made such a hash of Middle East policy.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.