US ‘Tiered’ Response Transitions to Daily Strikes in the Middle East

USS Eisenhower/ Image United States Navy

If the Biden Team stopped the flow of funds to Iran and used DI-EFIL effectively, the “Military” instrument of power wouldn’t be needed.


Since the Jan. 28 drone attack on Tower 22 in Jordan and the Nov. 19, 2023 seizure of the M/V Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea, a routinized normalcy of air and missile strikes by mainly U.S. forces has developed. Normalcy and routine can’t be found in Clausewitzian principles or Sun Tzu’s writings.

Normalcy and routine are the antithesis of “offense” and “momentum”—key elements of Clause-Tzuian tenets. “They hit us a bit, we hit them back a bit” isn’t a roadmap or strategy to a positive end state. There are multiple instruments of national power to leverage in the achievement of national objectives.

When an administration has no clearly stated objectives and declines to use the full spectrum of diplomatic, informational, military, economic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement (DIMEFIL) instruments of national power, a morass of endless conflict develops with no rudder or purpose.

US Coast Guard Cutter conducts intercept of Iranian Arms, DOD Photo

The Trump administration, very sparingly but effectively, used the “M” instrument after the other instruments didn’t achieve the desired effect. The Biden administration seems to default to the “M” instrument as a first resort and declines to use the other instruments. Iran and its benefactor China derive great gain from the Biden administration’s declining to use more decisive instruments of power that could achieve U.S. desired outcomes much faster. Troops deployed to al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria continue to face attacks from Iran-backed militia groups.

Troops deployed to al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria continue to face attacks from Iran-backed militia groups. (Staff Sgt. Jacob Connor/Army)

More US Base Camps Come Under Attack

Normalcy and routine are deadly for deployed American forces. Iranian-backed elements are hitting new U.S. camps that have been made public. The Iranian proxy attack on Tower 22 was the first to bring to general public knowledge the constellation of base camps that the Biden team reopened after the Trump administration used these base camps to defeat ISIS, eliminate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and make a dramatic teaching point with Qasem Soleimani. Very recently, U.S. Forces have used drones to kill a senior commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia accused of the attack on Tower 22 and other U.S. base camps.

There’s a basic question of causal analysis to ask when studying the Iranian attacks. Would the current dysfunctional government of Iran exist if Kata‘ib Hezbollah didn’t exist? The answer is yes. Would Kata’ib Hezbollah exist if the current dysfunctional government of Iran didn’t exist? The answer is probably not, or at least Kata’ib Hezbollah would be a whisper of what it is, deprived of most of its resources.

It’s intuitive that the causal issue is the dysfunctional government of Iran and its primary backer, China. If the Biden team stopped the flow of funds to Iran and used DI-EFIL effectively, the “M” instrument of power wouldn’t be needed.

The Biden team insists on funding Iran and hasn’t been clear on the duty status of the U.S. envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, who has lost his security clearance because of his alleged affinity for Iran. The State Department still lists Mr. Malley as the Iran envoy despite his unclear status. The inconsistent behavior of the Biden administration engenders little respect from and demonstrates no fear of consequences by Iran.

Houthis Continue Assault on Merchant Shipping

Meanwhile, on a scope and scale not seen in almost 80 years, ship after ship is being attacked in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean. The U.S. Navy has performed heroically and has swatted down every drone or missile deemed a threat. Very recently, the USS Gravely reportedly had to resort to its close-in weapons system (CIWS) to destroy one Houthi cruise missile that got through the outer layer defenses. CIWS isn’t perfect nor all-aspect, but it worked this time. Next time, the aspect of the CIWS may not be pointing in the right direction.

China (and Russia) aren’t paying war risk insurance rates for the passage of their ships through this combat zone. This is very significant, but few understand the significance of the fact that the Chinese and Russians are receiving preferred status. It means the Houthis are firing on everyone except for those involved in the “No Limits” agreement to replace (i.e., collapse) the United States.
China’s effective use of proxies such as Iran, the Houthis, Hamas, and others garners it an increase in market share of world shipping and commerce, and it expands the western limit of the Chinese sphere of influence to the Eastern Mediterranean. All this while China and Russia accuse the United States and the West of “double containment”—a play on the classic Clausewitzian term of double envelopment.
Iranian Spy Ship Behshad
Iran Warns Against US Move on Spy Ship

The Biden team uses sophisticated terms such as “tiered,” “disable,” “degrade,” and “proportionate,” which have no military or operational meaning. These terms are a green light for all Iranian proxies to fire away. An Iranian ship has been reportedly acting as the mothership for Iranian influence operations in the waters around Yemen. It’s the Behshad cargo ship. The Biden team has inexplicably allowed this ship to loiter in the immediate combat zone, despite its suspected role in providing targeting data for Houthi attacks.

Suddenly, Iran is giving loud warnings to the United States to not even consider striking this ship. The Behshad is moored next to the Chinese spy base in Djibouti, right at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. This puts the Behshad underneath the air defense umbrella of the Chinese base. It’s unclear why Iran is suddenly pointing out its own spy ships.

Until the Biden team uses the complete suite of tools available in the DIMEFIL quiver and starts to think about offense and momentum to rapidly achieve an outcome that favors the United States, this conflict will only expand and evolve into a forever war that benefits Iran, China, and Russia.

All viewpoints are personal and do not reflect the viewpoints of any organization.

This article first appeared in Epoch Times and was reprinted with permission.

The post US ‘Tiered’ Response Transitions to Daily Strikes in the Middle East appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

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