Editor's note 2013 : This is another Guest post from Vic Socotra and is copy righted by Vic and used here with permission. This comes from Vic's blog: http://www.vicsocotra.com/wordpress/daily-socotra/ and contains information you won't find in the mainstream media about who is showing up for the naval party in the Eastern Mediterranean . Namazu and all of us here at AAB red the Daily Socotra .....well...daily. We recommend it to every one. But for those of you who don't read your Socotra daily here is the look of the naval party in the med from a different angle than our recent description of the U.S. sixth fleet.
OK- sorry. I am a little distracted this morning. As you know, I have been sort of agitated of late. Change of circumstance and all that- new digs, new situation, pool closing, LTJG Socotra getting ready to ship out for the Fleet.
There is a feeling of change in the air, the seasons doing their thing, and me doing mine.
As an antidote, I drafted a gentle story with a gentle and accepting ending for this morning- it really is great to wake here in the deep silence of the Virginia countryside. It had everything: the talking box turtle in the forecourt, the gentle rumors of relationships between the newly arrived and local residents, an appearance by the Russian Princess and the owner of the Croftburn Farms market- you know, the whole country spiel with the whole country rhythm.
Folksy, you know.
Anyway, I was polishing up the bit about the fieldmouse in the mailbox- sorry, I am going to leave you hanging on that one, when Natasha wrote to ask about the Russian Navy in the Eastern Med. I swung from folksy fluff to OPINTEL mode and started to draft the Daily Rag as we did at the Fleet Operational Intelligence Center (FOSIC) at Pacific Fleet Headquarters.
I wrote her back after my fingers flew between screens, checking the latest ELINT and IMINT of the relevant operating bases, the INTSUM from 6th Fleet and the Fleet Intelligence Collection Manual. I had a rough and ready summary ready to go in about 45 minutes and mashed the button to send the RAG to the Streamliner switch:
"Uppers, Mate! Here is what I have on the Russian Auxiliary General Intelligence (AGI) ship deployed from the Black Sea Fleet to provide on-site SIGINT coverage for the Kremlin:
The deployment comes in conjunction with the impending (possible) planned military intervention against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russia has dispatched the 'Priazyovye' (SSV-201) to the Mediterranean to gather information on the area's escalating conflict. SSV-201 is normally home ported in Sevastopol. The image is of Priazyovye's sister SSV-208, a Pacific Fleet unit of the same class.
The ship is intended to operate separately from the warships permanently deployed to the Russian naval facility at Tartus, Syria. We used to call the Soviet trawlers that followed us around "tattle-tales," since their mission was to provide final target information for Long Range Aviation (LRA) TU-95 Bear Deltas and TU-22M Backfire bombers to attack us with AS-5 and AS-6 air-to-surface supersonic cruise missiles.
SSV-201 is a modern late construction complete SIGINT collection package. It could provide significant early warning of missle launches against Syrian targets. It could also provide targetting on the US warships, and demonstrates the complexity of the problem.
It was unclear how many naval vessels Russia would have in the region once the missile cruiser CGG Moskva (ex-Slava) of the Black Sea Fleet arrives from its current deployment in the Northern Atlantic. Moskva has a formidable anti-surface capability, carrying 16 SSN-12 SANDBOX missiles which have a range of over 300 nm and carry a 2,000LB conventional payload, enough to ruin your day. SSV-201 could provide fine-grained target information on the US warships.
(CG Mosvka, ex-Slava)
The commander of the Russian navy, ADM Viktor Chirkov, told Zvezda television this week that Russia "should have five or six vessels permanently deployed in the Mediterranean," but did not say how many were already in the area.
Due to commitments to US CENTCOM in the Indian Ocean, the USN has only four DDG's on station with another enroute. An LA-Class SSN is also reportedly on patrol off the coast of Syria. This is a dramatic reduction from Cold War numbers of the USN 6th Fleet- I remember the controversy when the number of carrier strike groups was reduced from two to "only" one. Horrors!
USS Mahan (DDG-72) (above) was slated to leave the region and be replaced by USS Ramage (DDG-61) for a ballistic missile defense (BMD) patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Now both ships, along with USS Barry (DDG-52) and USS Gravely (DDG-107) will remain on station, while USS Stout (DDG-55) is inbound.
Other NATO presence: some sources allege French AGI DUPUY DE LOME is currently also in the EastMed.
(A-79 Dupuy de Lome.)
The Royal Navy has a rapid deployment presence in the Med, including an SSN, two frigates and the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious, although Prime Minister Cameron has disavowed any engagement in an US attack.
The numbers are sort of pathetic by Cold War standards: a single Carrier Strike Group has more capability than everything everyone has in the region at the moment. But these forces all have formidable capabilities, and could be augmented by US air assets deployed to the Med and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers launched from as far away as Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.
If Congress says OK, that is. What a world. I have no idea what is going to happen except that this is a policy disaster.
That is the OPINTEL wrap from the EasMed this morning.
Copyright 2013 Vic Socotra
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