IMCMEX-2012 – Failure on whose part
By Afshain Afzal
International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX-2012) concluded on 27/28 September 2012. The exercise left some good and some bitter memories. Many of the missions failed as it was difficult to conduct mine countermeasures (MCM) operations in the narrow strait. It was the first time that civilian contractors were in chain of command in some warships, which produced discouraging results. There were cases of disobedience and refusal to obey lawful command.
The US Navy carried out a unique attempt by employing some retired personnel from Navy and civilian merchant ships operator. More or less, some ships sounded like a fish market. We also noticed that US and some other nations practiced their maritime patrol and anti-submarine capabilities. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) currently stationed Bahrain proved effected. There was a proposal to engage India in listening and monitoring business but all failed to given slightest hint what Tehran was doing as counter measures.
The best part of the exercise was introduction of new minesweeping equipments which also failed to produce desired results despite well rehearsed techniques. It was a good show to exhibit some of the previous decade’s refit ships with latest equipments for off the shelve sale to developing countries. Many weeks ahead of the exercise, news flashed in the international media as well as Internet reflected that US would be leading biggest Gulf exercise to give signal to Iran. The traces of so called biggest and exercise could not be traced however, the propaganda that was targeted on Iran could not impress. In fact, the idea of the exercise was noting more than to give publicity to private military security forces to fight pirates in Indian Ocean. No doubt, we were able to see some of the fine Airborne Maritime capabilities with drones and ASW aircraft but main focus remained at-sea mine hunting and clearing operations, which failed to attract appreciations.
The aim of most of the nations was to improve anti-mine skills but it was partially met. Some of the Navies witnessed upgraded manned and unmanned equipments and gadgetries in action which was a good learning. One of the apparent aim of the exercise can be judged from the statements of leadership in US reflected that IMCMEX-2012 tried to send a message to Iran that a closure of the Strait of Hormuz by mines will be met with multilateral Navy attack. But Iran made US and its allies crystal clear that their navies in Strait of Hormuz are within target range of Tehran. Tehran also gave loud and clear message to Israel that attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be death of the enemies. The analysis of the IMCMEX-2012 clearly spells out that US and the nations which participated in the exercise in Gulf of Hormuz failed to achieve set objectives. Neither the navies were successful in exhibiting team spirit nor they were successful in majority of the mine sweeping operations. Whatever the cause may be; is it due to narrow strip or failure of equipment itself, we can safely pronounce it non-compatible equipment with the environment. Ironically, on the concluding briefing on the termination of exercise no body was ready to fix responsibilities of failure.
One wonders Washington, London and allied nations are not satisfied after killing millions original inhabitants of USA, Jews in Europe, Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thousands of Muslims in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon and over 1.5 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Same is the reason why these nations are trying to stage another drama of fire and blood in the Gulf. No doubt, the sluggish and ineffective buildup of western navies proved that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Naval Commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi was right when he said that his naval forces have had the ability to completely control the Strait of Hormuz. It is matter of concern that some of the warships, participating in IMCMEX-2012, are still deployed in the vicinity of Arabian Gulf so that Tehran may retaliate. The peace loving nations of the world must register their protests before United Nations to clear Indian Ocean from blood thirsty beasts.