Copyright John T. Reed

On 12/18/09, Iranian forces invaded Iraq and took over an Iraqi oil well. What should the U.S. do?

I presume the Iranians in question are armed with the usual AK-47s and RPGs.

We should kill all the invaders using weapons that are accurate from just outside the range of the Iranians’ weapons. The effective range of the AK-47 is 400 meters. The effective range of the RPG is 1,000 yards, although I doubt it could hit the broad side of a barn at that range.

What weapons do we have that could kill the Iranians from, say, 1,100 yards or greater with no risk of U.S. casualties?

• Most U.S. sniper rifles are accurate beyond 1,100 yards.
• Mortars and artillery could all hit from that range although the enemy would have time to evade as the fire was adjusted to be more accurate and the oil well would be damaged.
• The AC-130 gunship. In Vietnam, we had AC-47 gunships called Spooky or Puff the Magic Dragon. It is a propeller plane that orbits in a constant left turn above the target while a Gatling gun shoots out the open left door. It could put one round in every square foot of a football field in one minute. The bullet size is now 20mm (.787 inches). If a .50 caliber bullet (half-inch diameter heavy machine gun) hits you anywhere on your body, you are done for the day. Smaller caliber bullets generally do not kill you unless they hit a vital organ. With 20mm, you’re probably done, period.
• If the Iranians cluster together in a building or bunker or machine gun nest, they can be destroyed by various modern versions of the World War II bazooka. There are many and there seem to be new ones every year. For example, the Javelin has a range of 2,500 meters.

The problem in recent wars is we keep giving up our firepower advantage and duke it out with the enemy on their terms which are equal or worse terms. In this case that would be sending an infantry platoon or company to fight the Iranians. Screw that! Kill them from beyond the range of their weapons. This is not NCAA competition.

In addition to killing the invaders, we or the Iraqis should engage in similar a tit-for-tat attack on Iranian soil. Tit for tat has proven in game theory to be the best way to respond to such competitors. You also combine forgiveness with tit for tat. That is, you invade. We invade. If, after we retaliate, you want peace, OK.

We should not overreact disproportionately. But we must make them regret doing this and inspire them and any would-be imitators to decide, “Ooooh! That was a bad idea! Let’s not do that again (or imitate the Iranians).”

Obama is probably too wimpy and eager to please everyone and solve all problems with talk to do this. If so, Iran and other enemies will escalate. Even Joe Biden, perhaps America’s dumbest public official, predicted this before the election.

John T. Reed

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