By Dr. Jim Vineyard
October 29, 2010
Things in the Middle East are pointing most definitely to the coming of Messiah at any time. The Great Tribulation is very near!
The facts that follow are merely preludes of the Battle of Gog [Russia], Persia [Iran] and their allies of Ezekiel 38 that will be fought early in the Tribulation after the Antichrist makes his "covenant with many" (Daniel 9:27; cf. Revelation 6:1-4).
Wednesday, October 13, France's flagship and only aircraft carrier the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle sailed out from its home port of Toulon on a four-month mission, escorted by two frigates, an attack submarine and refueling tanker, under the command of Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard. Their mission was officially designated support for the NATO anti-piracy and counter-terror contingents patrolling the Indian Ocean and for NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Two days after their departure, the French carrier turned back for urgent repairs to damage, the nature of which the French Navy spokesman declined to specify. Western naval sources said it was an electrical fault in the ship's propulsion system. The escort group continued on its way leaving the carrier to catch up later.
Middle East military sources report that this breakdown caused the Charles de Gaulle to miss the boat in the most strategic sense. It had been scheduled to reach the Arabian Sea Sunday, Oct. 17, on the same day that the USS Abraham Lincoln put in to Manama port, home of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, as agreed in advance between the White House in Washington and the Elyse้ Palace in Paris.
The Abraham Lincoln kept the date, arriving in the Persian Gulf with a Carrier Air Wing CVW-2 of nine squadrons on its decks, to join the USS Harry S. Truman carrier and its marine air strike unit.
What we have definitively learned is that they were carrying each other's replacement parts!
The coordinated build-up around Iran's shores in the second half of October, 2010 was the outcome of a recent discussion inside the White House about whether it would be helpful, or counterproductive, to have President Barak Obama talk more openly about military options. And not just to talk, but to suit action to words.
Some of the spadework was already in place: On June 8, the US, France and Britain carried out a joint exercise.
US and French fighter-bombers, taking off from the Truman and the de Gaulle, and British fighter-bombers flying in from bases in England, practiced bombing ground targets and providing air support for Marines on ground missions against Iranian targets at the Canjuers training facility near Toulon, France.
The US and French fighter bombers had their first experience ever of landing on their ally's aircraft carriers for "repairs" in their role of aircraft maimed in combat. French Rafale M fighter-bombers landed on a US aircraft carrier while US Super Hornet F/A-18E/F warplanes touched down on the French carrier's deck for repairs in its workshop. This exercise prepared the US and French carriers designated to take part in an attack on Iran to each carry replacement parts for its ally's warplanes.
The goal of the overall US command was to have three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea with a combined total of 160 warplanes on their decks - 120 on the US carriers and 40 on the Charles de Gaulle.
And then we have learned that Egypt joins Strait of Hormuz defenders at big new Fujairah naval base in the United Arab Emirates!
Also on October 17, in another part of the Middle East, the start of a unique military exercise slotted two more pieces into the overall architecture of US planning for a possible attack on Iran. Saudi and Egyptian special forces, marines, armored, missile, air and naval contingents met for the first time in the history of their armed forces for a joint exercise, Tabuk-2. Its goal was to turn back an Iranian offensive by attacking the attacker. This maneuver which took place in Egypt's Northern Desert was first disclosed in an email a few days ago. Military sources have since filled in the details. The scenario they rehearsed started with Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) marines landing on Saudi oil fields and oil ports in the Eastern Provinces. One Egyptian force was assigned to rush over to augment Saudi resistance to the invaders, while a second standing by in northwest Saudi Arabia would land behind enemy lines on the western Iranian coast and raid the IRGC bases located there.
Then, Middle East military sources further disclose:
1. Tabuk-2 was only the first of a series of joint Saudi-Egyptian war games to strengthen their military cooperation and inculcate patterns of mutual defense.
2. An Egyptian expeditionary force made up of armored, naval, marine, air and commando detachments has scattered among Saudi military bases as a permanent outpost. It will stand ready for swift action at short notice in line with a strategic Saudi-Egyptian decision to have field units on the ready for instantaneous response to an Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia.
3. Egyptian and Saudi intelligence services have unified their Iran desks.
4. The day their war game ended, October 21, a huge new naval base was inaugurated at the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah. The site is located at a focal point on the eastern coast of the emirate just opposite the Straits of Hormuz with links to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
In addition to the UAE navy, French and Egyptian naval and marine units will be stationed at this base - the first time the French fleet has won a foothold in the Persian Gulf and Egypt's first deployment for a role in defending the strategic oil transport waterway.
While all this was happening, US-Israeli coordination was being strengthened!
The United States has also substantially bolstered three Combined Task Forces (CTF) in the region with manpower and equipment.
They are: CTF151 which operates in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, CTF152 whose area of operation stretches from the northern Persian Gulf to the Strait of Hormuz, and CTF158 which covers the northernmost corner of the Persian Gulf. Also attached to them are large amphibious landing craft with air transports and helicopters on their decks for carrying thousands of commandos and marines into action.
The US and Israel meanwhile conducted a 10-day command post simulation and training exercise called Juniper Falcon 11 on October 11-21, a regular event which this time drilled responses to coordinated missile strikes from Iran, Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Added to the scenario were Iranian merchant ships at sea shooting missiles and Iranian warplanes taking off from Syrian bases to blitz Israel and American targets in the region. The exercise tested the level of intelligence and operational coordination between US and Israeli missile interceptor systems and also how well they worked together in potential counter-attacks on missile-launching sites in Iran and its allies, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.
On October 25, Dennis Ross, Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for the Central Region, spoke about the level of strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel in an address to the Florida convention of the Israel lobby AIPAC: "Frankly, this degree of coordination (between US and Israel) is unprecedented," he commented. "I have participated in these types of discussions for the last 30 years and they have never been as intense or focused, reflecting the serious cooperation that we have today with Israel." In another comment, Ross said, "Should Iran continue its defiance, despite its growing isolation and the damage to its economy, its leaders should listen carefully to President Obama who has said many times, 'We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.'" Ross's remarks amounted to the most explicit threat yet heard from a key Obama administration figure about possible American military action against Iran. Therefore, our read is that "Iran is Getting Set for War!"
They do this by Mustering Offensive-Defensive Units, and Organizing Proxy Campaigns!
If the next war in the Persian Gulf and Middle East plays out according to the Iranian scenario, Revolutionary Guards elite units will hit back at enemy troop landings by sea or air, by taking the war to US Middle East bases, Mediterranean shores, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The paucity of Iranian fighting men and size of country would make defense a tall order for Tehran, say Middle East military experts.
The IRGC regular strength is just 150,000 fighting men - rising to 200,000 when war reserves are fully mobilized. This is nowhere near being up to the combined task of defending the country while striking the enemy outside its borders. The Iranian general staff has addressed this predicament by assigning some 15,000 troops of the IRGC's crack Special Forces, Navy and Air Force units to striking targets in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, while leaving an army of roughly one million soldiers to deal with enemy assaults and invasion.
That number too is far too small to defend all 1,648,195 square kilometers (636,372 square miles) of Iran, which is the 18th largest country in the world in terms of area, with a population of more than 75 million and coastlines on three seas, the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Caspian Sea. To make up for that deficiency, Iran has for the past eighteen months been building and training special local forces for defending the capital Tehran, other key cities, its nuclear installations and other strategic and military centers. They will also bear the brunt of putting down minority uprisings by Kurds, Arabs or Baluchis and curbing their efforts to sever main transportation arteries by sabotage and terror. These scratch armies, yielding around 140,000 semi-trained fighting men, have been molded out of the Basij volunteer militia and local police departments.
The Basij, which numbers about 90,000 volunteers (The Iranians claim there are more than 10 million!) was until recently no more than a poorly equipped local militia of enthusiastic thugs at the beck and call of the regime. Iranian tacticians have managed to hammer them into five armored Basij divisions equipped with tanks, artillery and short-range anti-aircraft weapons, whose task it is to destroy any enemy forces landing on their patch.
Iran's police force has undergone a similar transformation. It now resembles a paramilitary force more than an arm of law enforcement. Its single Police Unit 110 for rapid response in urban areas has been replicated in many parts of the country and trained for combating local guerilla fighters and invading foreign troops in their areas of control.
All in all, intelligence sources estimate that Iran could field in the early stages of a war 900,000 to a million fighting men - the professionally-trained 600,000-strong army and IRGC troops and the semi-trained units making up their numbers. This army would be far from homogenous, lacking a unified central command, with uneven combat skills, low-grade weaponry and only very basic communications equipment.
The units assigned with repelling invaders will have little-to-no air support or helicopters for striking ground targets because almost the entire ageing air force, including attack helicopters, must be reserved for the big battle of the Persian Gulf against US, Saudi and emirate forces.
In addition we can tell you that there is Heavy Iranian reliance on allies for proxy offensives! Given these grave tactical deficiencies, Tehran would be heavily dependent in any conflict in the foreseeable future, on "second" and "third fronts" fought by allies and surrogates - the Syrian Army of around 500,000 troops, Hizballah's fighting militia of 45,000 and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, which together could muster 17,000-20,000 men under arms. They would be charged with carrying forward Iran's military doctrine of taking the war into enemy territory.
Iran's proxy army is made up of two main elements:
1. Commando forces trained for missions inside Israel:
The two most professional forces under Iran's remote control are the 15,000-strong Syrian airborne commandos and Hizballah's 4,000 special forces - most of whose officers and men underwent specialist IRGC and Al Qods Brigades training in Iran.
According to Tehran's war plans, while helicopters dropped Syrian commandos over target areas in Israel, flying in low to evade Israeli radar, Hizballah's ground troops would drive across the Lebanese-Israeli border and head for sectors inside Israel pre-designated for capture with the aid of the local Israel-Arab populace, while also striking Israel Defense Forces facilities and severing Israeli transport routes in their respective areas.
The involvement of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers has deepened throughout the Hizballah chain of command. Tehran has appointed Revolutionary Guards Gen. Hossein Mahadavi overall commander of the war front against Israel in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. He is permanently seated in Beirut with a staff of dozens of Iranian specialists who advise Hizballah on intelligence and weapons systems.
While Syrian and Hizballah troops attack northern Israel, armed Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist squads would smash their way into southern Israel and attack IDF soldiers and civilians, focusing on the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod. They would make use of the hundreds of tunnels burrowed under the Gaza border fence in deference to the North Korean doctrine of infiltration and operation behind enemy lines, and also try and land by sea.
Iranian war planners foresee simultaneous battles flaring up in many parts of their country, especially around nuclear installations and important military facilities. They are keen to replicate this scenario inside Israel which is far too small to withstand such strategy.
Evidence has been building in the past six months of Syrian and Iranian marine units - the latter already present in Syria - simulating sea landings from the Mediterranean at various points on the Israeli coast where major naval bases, oil refineries and power stations would present ready infrastructure targets for destruction.
2. A sustained missile strike on Israel:
Tehran plans its first knee-jerk response to a US or Israeli attack to be a concentrated four-directional missile blitz on Israel and has amply armed its proxies for that task.
Not only would Iranian missiles cover the distance, but Syria would let loose from the north, Hizballah from the northwest, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the south. They have all been supplied with enough intermediate-range missiles and rockets to pound every inch of Israeli territory. More than 40,000 sophisticated missiles are stored at Bint Jbail, Southern Lebanon in underground bunkers. Syrian and Hizballah arsenals were recently swelled by large consignments of the new-model Fateh-110 missiles, which have a range of 220-250 kilometers, while the two Palestinian groups in Gaza have been furnished with a growing supply of improved Fajr-5 missiles whose 80-kilometer range takes them as far as Tel Aviv. Iran has also smuggled into Gaza enough anti-aircraft missiles of different types with launchers housed underground and operated by remote control to affect Israel's aerial tactics against terrorists operating out of Gaza.
Middle East military sources report the Israeli Air Force has just discontinued the use of helicopters for surveillance and other tasks over the Gaza Strip and border areas in Israel lest they are shot down from Gaza. However, last week, an Iranian anti-aircraft missile fired by an Islamic Jihad squad managed to bring down an Israeli UAV over the northern Gaza Strip. Large Israeli ground forces with tanks rushed across to the crash site to remove every fragment of the drone before the scraps could be collected by Palestinians and sent on to Iran or Hizballah for analysis.
"The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." (Isaiah 17:1)
The missile blitz Tehran has planned would be coordinated by a joint command set up in Damascus last June by Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This command center also divided Israel into sectors for coordinated targeting adjusted to the types of missiles in the hands of the participants and ongoing events in the various war zones, including Iran.
In addition to all this I see "Israel lining up its defenses!"
On Tuesday, October 26, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, drilled a simulated strike on the building by two of Hamas' Grad missiles during a plenary session, necessitating the transfer of deliberations to another location in Jerusalem. This exercise, which took place three days after the conclusion of the US-Israeli joint missile defense maneuver Juniper Falcon 11, indicates Israel is fully aware that every part of the country is now exposed to Iranian or surrogate missiles.
That maneuver led straight into the biggest exercise the Israeli Air force has ever staged to practice the widely-varied combat, defense and support functions this arm will have to perform against a synchronized Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah-Palestinian assault. The air exercise is to continue through the end of this week.
On the diplomatic front, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley Tuesday night accused Syria of continuing to "steer weapons to Hizballah militants in Lebanon in an attempt to exert control over its neighbor."
In Paris, Israeli sources leaked word to the French newspaper Le Figaro that Hizballah is running three logistics units whose specialty is weapons transport:
Unit 108, based in Damascus, is responsible for trucking arms and ammunition supplies inside Syria to storage depots in Aleppo, Homs and Tartous.
Unit 112 delivers war materiel to Hizballah's caches in Lebanon and ammo to its Bekaa Valley facilities.
Unit 100 organizes the travels of Hizballah fighters and Iranian experts between Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and Iran via Damascus airport.
THE RAPTURE AND TRIBULATION:
The Rapture and Tribulation is near friends! Have you repented of your sins and trusted Christ and you Lord and Saviour?
Joel 3:2 says: "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with [i.e. judge] them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My Land. ... Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision."
The valley of Jehoshaphat is exactly where the Battle of Armageddon will be fought. There the nations, like the USA under George W. Bush, and his Road Map Peace plan, which parted the Land that the Lord God of Israel, calls "My Land" in Joel 3:2, will be gathered and God Almighty will judge them collectively for parting the Land that He gave Israel for ever, and every individual for what they did with Jesus Christ.
Believers should be praying, EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS and for THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM (Revelation 22:20; Psalms 122:6).