Unfortunately they're also stupid. And the Persians aren't. That bears repeating: the Persians are NOT stupid. In fact, they've always been the craftiest people in the Middle East, because they can yell as loud and act as crazy in public as any Arab--but when it's necessary they can also instantly calm down and plan quietly, a smile on their faces and a dagger under the table.
If the Mullahs in Tehran had wanted a provocation, they could have made one phone call and all those annoying speedboats would have beelined for our frigates at ramming-suicide speed. But Persians are patient; they know that Cheney will be gone in a year, so why risk an invasion? Not that they're afraid of a US invasion; in fact, if they were just typical Middle-East crazies, they'd be scheming to get invaded ASAP. But they don't NEED us to invade right now, which means they feel pretty confident things are going their way without any added aggravation. After all, we just conquered Iraq for them; why not let us bleed out there, with no risk to Iran, then walk in when the US Treasury is empty?
So what the Iranians did was waterski around the fleet and drop "boxes in the water." That's a quote from the Navy's report. The Navy seemed especially pissed off about an enemy who'd do something as low and no-account as dropping "boxes in the water." See, every "box" is potentially a mine, and there's nothing that full-braid Naval officers hate more than mines, because of all the ways you can wreck your ship, steaming onto a floating bomb is maybe the most embarrassing.
Pick on someone your own size! This multibilliondollar US Navy warship is no match for a $250 Iranian suicide-speedboat
See, the Navy brass always plans for a neat, clean hi-tech war. Their real investment isn't the Phalanx or Aegis but the operations rooms deep in the hulls where flabby desk jockeys just like me sit at little screens. Those screens are supposed to show a few dots, nice fair-fighting Soviet surface ships and subs. That's how the Navy wants to play the game. Seeing their beautiful screens clogged up by a bunch of goddamn cheap speedboats full of Revolutionary Guards, not to mention hundreds of "boxes" that might turn out to be mines, ruins everything.
You might wonder, if you were real, real naive, why the Navy hasn't tried to learn from what van Ripen did to them six years ago in the same waters. Well, the truth is that no big, well-funded armed service learns or changes until it absolutely has to, which usually means when it starts to lose a war. And of all services, navies are by far the most stubborn, old-fashioned, snobby, retarded of all. I don't mean the submarine force, which is pretty much God. I mean the brass in their ridiculous floating targets, aka carriers, frigates, tankers and other dive-sites-in-the-making.
If they had any sense they'd realize that the way to deal with big overloaded targets is to saturate their defenses with a swarm of low-cost attackers. If you've got lives to spend, and the Iranians sure do, you spend lives to sink hardware. It's a good trade, when you consider what a carrier costs, and how little the average Iranian life is worth. They're Shia! These guys can't wait to give their lives away. The Kamikazes were squeamish moderates compared to the Revolutionary Guard. And thanks to Silicon Valley and its Chinese knockoffs, you can fire swarms of unmanned rockets instead of Shia martyrs, so you don't even need to spend one life per blip on the US fleet's little screens. You can even send empty rocket tubes as part of the swarm, because in the few seconds the surface vessel has to react, it can't determine which threats are nuke, which are conventional HE and which are decoys.
Of course the Navy will come back with buzz words like Aegis and Phalanx. The Phalanx is a good system, if everybody was still playing by those Warsaw Pact vs. NATO war games. Phalanx, for you rookies, is an automated close-in defense system mounted on the decks of USN surface vessels. It looks like that Star Wars robot R2D2, if R2D2 had a huge penis hanging down that was a multi-barrel 20mm cannon. The R2D2 part houses the radar and computer; the gatling gun spits out 20mm rounds at low-flying SS missiles, incoming speedboats, or diving kamikaze planes.