Yves here. The hit on Tower 22, a logistics, supply, and rear guard post for the Al-Tanf base in Syria, may be a lucky accident by Axis of Resistance forces that killed 3 American servicemembers and wounded dozens. But it appears instead to signal a marked increase in militia and Iran capabilities, specifically, not just their attack range but also their ability to thwart US defenses. This attack looks to signal a strategic accomplishment that tells the US that major airbases in the area are at risk.
By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears
The Hamas offensive of October 7 caught the Israel Defence Forces asleep at their posts. This weekend’s drone strike against Tower-22, a US troop base in northeastern Jordan, caught the US Army troops asleep.
The response, according to President Joseph Biden’s statement, is that “we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing….we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.” General Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, repeated: “Iran-backed militias are responsible for these continued attacks on U.S. forces, and we will respond at a time and place of our choosing.”
Donald Trump, campaigning to defeat Biden in the November election, declared in an election statement, reported in full by a Russian military blogger, “this brazen attack on the United States is yet another horrific and tragic consequence of Joe Biden’s weakness and surrender. Three years ago, Iran was weak, broke, and totally under control. Thanks to my Maximum Pressure policy…This attack would NEVER have happened if I was President, not even a chance. Just like the Iranian-backed Hamas attack on Israel would never have happened, the war in Ukraine would never have happened, and we would right now have peace throughout the World. Instead, we are on the brink of World War 3.”
This is how the psychopathic liar now fights the demented on behalf of the genocidalists to trigger all-fronts war in the Middle East.
The details of the Tower-22 attack, and Iran’s reinforcement at the Strait of Hormuz, reveal that the Arabs and the Iranians are ready and waiting. The Russians too.
The drone attack on the US troop base known as Tower-22, in the northeastern corner of Jordan, caught the US forces, reportedly reservists, asleep. The base reportedly holds 350 Army and Air Force personnel. At least three have been confirmed killed; eight have been evacuated with life threatening injuries, according to US Central Command (CENTCOM); about three dozen have been counted as wounded.
Source of map: https://www.abc.net.au/
The distance between the two American bases is about 30 kilometres. The location of Tower-22 on Jordanian territory has been confirmed by CENTCOM. This flatly contradicts claims on Jordanian state television by a government spokesman; he announced that the base is outside Jordanian territory in Syria. This lie indicates how fearful Jordanian officials are of the majority Palestinian community in Jordan who are hostile to the Jordan king’s collaboration with the Israelis, as well as with the US and British forces. To date, the Palestinians in Jordan have organized crowd protests in Amman in support of the Gaza and West Bank fights, but they have not yet taken their protests to the foreign bases on Jordanian territory.
Satellite image of the Tower-22 base, including helicopter pads. Source: https://www.nytimes.com/
With a 350-man complement, Tower-22 is a bigger base than Al-Tanf, which has about 200 special forces.
The operational success of the strike for the attackers is strategic. Tower-22 is a logistics, supply, and rear guard post for the Al-Tanf base which US troops are operating thirty kilometres north across the border in Syria. The attack demonstrates that both Tower-22 and Al-Tanf, Jordan and Syria, are newly vulnerable to weapons which the US forces have failed to detect and neutralize. Just as significantly, the massive US airbase called Muwaffaq Salti, 230 kilometres west across Jordan, is also vulnerable now.
For analysis of how these bases, and other anti-Palestinian targets in Jordan, are connected and targeted by the Axis of Resistance, read this from October.
Biden’s statement said only “we are still gathering the facts of this attack”.
The USAF base at Muwaffaq Salti in Jordan. Source: https://johnhelmer.net/
The aircraft visible in the satellite image of the base include USAF F-15Es, which were redeployed there in October from the RAF Lakenheath base in England; read more here.
Reporters of the New York Times were told by their official briefers that “the drone strike in Jordan on Sunday demonstrated that the Iran-backed militias — whether in Iran or Syria, or the Houthis in Yemen — remained capable of inflicting serious consequences on American troops despite the U.S. military’s efforts to weaken them and avoid tumbling into a wider conflict, possibly with Iran itself.”
The newspaper added a warning against escalation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon: “ ‘We don’t want to go down a path of greater escalation that drives to a much broader conflict within the region,’ Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday. Asked in a pre-recorded session on ABC News’s This Week whether he thought Iran wanted war with the United States, General Brown, echoing assessments from the U.S. intelligence agencies, said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ ”
Brown is also believed to have been one of the prompters for public release of the Pentagon warnings against the Ukrainian “counteroffensive” in the so-called social media releases published by Jack Texeira in April of 2023.
The official line in Washington on Sunday evening, according to its New York platform, is that “the Americans killed on Sunday were the first known fatalities from hostile fire in the region since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas…It was unclear on Sunday why air defences at the outpost failed to intercept the drone, which former military commanders said appeared to be the first known assault on the location since attacks on U.S. forces began soon after the Oct. 7 incursion.”
Well-informed military sources are emphatic that the Tower-22 operation has strategic significance in quite another way. They believe Pentagon officials have already told the White House.
“This is a significant accomplishment,” one of the sources said. “Was the bypassing of the US air defence system at Tower-22 pulled off with Russian assistance? US bases generally rely on the C-RAM [Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar] system. It was sent to Ukraine last year where the Russians have been learning to defeat it. What now of American EW [electronic warfare]? They’ve been doing a fair job of knocking drones down up to now. It seems a ‘coincidence’ that, not a week after the meetings in Moscow with Arabs and Iranians, we see this success. It’s a success the circumstances of which, we can be sure, Biden and Austin are not keen to advertise.”
Confirmation that C-RAM units are the principal air defence systems operating at US bases in Syria and Iraq, including Al-Tanf and Tower-22, came last October from former Pentagon official, Stephen Bryen. Bryen claimed at the time “for years I have complained that vulnerable American bases in Iraq and Syria lacked adequate air defenses. Bottom line: they still do.” When Bryen was at the Pentagon, he was also unusually close to the Israeli government.
For details of the C-RAM system, its US Army development history and its allied counterparts, click to read this. The evidence that C-RAM was delivered to Kiev last October, test-fired, and then installed to become part of Kiev’s air defence supporting the Patriot missile units, can be viewed in this 10-minute video from Night Hawk Veterans.
Starting last May, there have been several effective Russian missile attacks against the Patriot batteries in Kiev. At the start of this month, there were fresh Russian missile and drone attacks across Kiev.
While there has been no announcement from the Russian Defense Ministry of a successful hit against C-RAM in Kiev, military sources believe Russia’s General Staff have acquired the technical capability to neutralize the American system, allowing drones through to hit their ground targets, including the C-RAM mounted truck unit.
The Iranians have been observing, as have the Arab forces planning and executing drone attacks against C-RAM defended US bases. How much of the Russian intelligence on C-RAM is being shared with them?
For details of last week’s detailed talks in Moscow with visiting delegations from the Yemen Ansarallah government (Houthis) and the Iranian Security Council, read this.
Left, Russian Security Council, headed by Nikolai Patrushev (ring), at plenary session, with Ali-Akbar Ahmadian, head of the counterpart Iranian Security Council.
Apart from US reports of the Tower-22 drone attack striking the troop living quarters, there is no information yet on how many drones detonated, and what equipment at the base may also have been hit.
The military source again: “If there’s no coincidence, and if this isn’t a lucky strike for the Arabs, then this may reflect a step-change up in Russian military assistance to the Iranians. Maybe Tower-22 was selected as a small target for demonstration effect, so as to send a message about the bigger targets, Al-Tanf and Muwaffaq Salti. Hitting them next makes ‘regional war’, and then US ground forces are going to be in the thick of it — the Biden Administration will have a new war on its hands — and bodybags, instead of votes, for Election Day. “
For the time being, Russian military bloggers – the only open-source reporters of Russian military operations in the Ukraine and worldwide – are not analyzing the implications of the Tower-22 operation.
However, Militarist has reported the deployment of the Iranian naval drone carrier and electronic warfare vessel, the Shah Mahdavi, in the Gulf of Oman. There is no open-source western vessel tracking source for this report and the map.
US Navy and other western media have been reporting for almost a year the conversion of the older container carrier into a warship by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The current positioning of the Shah Mahdavi is a signal that if the Biden Administration, or the Trump election campaign, or their claques in the US Congress decide on making a direct, retaliatory strike against Iranian targets — military personnel, territorial units, or naval vessels — the IGRC will close the Strait of Hormuz. Iran will then be at war with the US, and so will the rest of the world which, until Israel started its war against the Palestinians, depended on the Suez Canal, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean for its energy supply and trade lifelines.
Left, the angled-deck air-launch structure of the Shah Mahdavi. Right: deck cranes visible for launch of surface and submarine drones. Source: https://news.usni.org/
“This is a major embarrassment and a message for the US and its allies”, the military source concludes. “It should resonate with all of them. It’s the conclusion to be drawn from the fact that the systems they have relied on have been defeated on land [in the Ukraine] and are now defending their ships on the Red Sea, and being defeated there too. The implications of all of this are enormous. Now, even the smallest maritime country, at a relatively low cost, can project force and inflict harm on the traditionally dominant actors. No need for expensive fighter or strike aircraft, let alone the pilots to operate them, or technicians and facilities to maintain them. No need for specialized military ship-building facilities. Any bulk transport, cheaply got, will do.”