The consequences of swarming tactics

Andrew Scutro's recent article from Navy Times indicates that the USN is conducting a thorough review of their boarding procedures after Iran's recent employment of swarming tactics off the Al Faw Penisula. It also reports the Royal Navy will also conduct "a full review" of the incident. A USN spokesperson from U.S. Central Command revealed that HMS Cornwall has been withdrawn from the area of operations and that there is no longer a ship on that station. In addition, the article gives excellent insight into what past experience of captured American service personnel in similar circumstances has taught U.S. observers about appropriate conduct.

An article written this week by Thomas Harding in The Telegraph states that the RN's leadership must answer serious questions about its operational concepts and tactical procedures used in boardings, as well as others about the types of ships it is using in this sort of operations.

Harding is critical of the RN for its use of frigates in littoral waters, and observes that the reason HMS Cornwall was separated from her boats was that her draft was too deep to allow her to come any closer to the scene of action. This detail makes the whole puzzling scenario much clearer. David Bercuson's article in today's Globe and Mail ("Iran's win-win tactic: kidnapping" 11 April 2007) repeats Harding's claim that HMS Cornwall was restricted by her draft and asserts that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had analyzed British helicopter and boarding operations to determine the optimum timing for their swarming attack. Bercuson warns that Canadian warships could also be vulnerable to swarming tactics and advises that the only way to avoid a similar outcome is to be prepared to use armed force - "no matter the cost."