The Tower-22 Strike in Jordan Triggers US, Israel Into All-Front War – The Arabs and Iran Are Ready, the Russians Too

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:
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:
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:
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:

“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.”

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  1. Deb Schultz

    These bases have always been magnets for attack and political unrest, yet we have perennially pretended they are there to ” keep the peace”, preserve “stability”, and bolster a usually unpopular government that, in too many instances in the region, is elitist or of a minority religion or ethnicity.

    I think anyone who is honest with themselves can easily see how the people who actually live in these places, who raise their kids and take care of their grannies and are trying to live lives of peace and promise, can get deeply pissed off at being used as a fundamentally unimportant bit player in some weird global dominance game, the rules of which are in the hands of terrible people like the Pentagon bullies and the defense contractors.

    Speaking from personal experience, even those bases we sited in presumably friendly nations such as Greece and Spain have been the sources of friction and real antagonism. And not without cause. Yes, we used those bases to spy on other countries. Yes, we dumped toxic chemicals in the waste areas of those bases. Yes, we flew the flag and thumped our chests and then, were taken by surprise when, it turned out, the people there didn’t really like us very much. So we pouted and flounced and imagined ourselves ill-used and unappreciated.

    And now, here we are, getting ready to get out of Iraq. Where we should never have gone, much like Vietnam. How many more bogus menaces must we prop up and pretend to hunt down?

    Our bases in Greece are gone. Bases in Spain are gone, or almost. I suppose some like Max Boot are in the throes of mad dreams of having a base in Odessa.

    These are such strange and hysterical times. I was taken back by the mad response to 9/11, but I failed to imagine how absurdist our paranoia and exceptionaljsm was going to become.

    The saddest thing is that there is a real threat facing us all, yet we who are so rich and well-off, cannot see to stand up against our own worst instincts, to do some real good for all our futures. Yes, I’m speaking of global warming and the need to end our destructive abuse of assets and environment. It’s an enormous task and we are too late coming to it. But it is a worthy effort and humane.

      1. JTMcPhee

        So that impeaches her observations? Too bad the militarists are not as perfectly committed to accuracy as the implied standard you lay down. WMD in Iraq, anyone? That was good for half a trillion MilBucks and a million or more dead. Gulf of Tonkin “incident?” Maybe what, 4 trillion MilBucks and several million dead? Anyone remember Afghanistan, which was the “fulcrum of the future?” Kosovo? Libya? There’s a flood of these “no longer operatives” that we mopes are supposed to just forgive and disremember.

        US “policy” is like the handyman who puts his/her thumb on the head of the nail, and then whacks it with a 28-ounce hammer. And then vows vengeance on “whoever it was” that made him/her take the swing.

        Not to worry, Deb — we are all on the same leaking, aimless ship loaded with gunpowder and metallic phosphorous. Just a matter of fortuity which way we are screwed.

    1. Jon Cloke

      But you can’t bomb global warming, can you? Or attack it with missiles or blitzkrieg it with tanks and Bradleys…

      US armed forces are massive polluters: ““The basic fact is that military bases are not good for the environment,” said Vine, author of Base Nation. “By definition, they are concentrations of often huge quantities of highly hazardous destructive materials and weaponry that are not good for human beings and other living things.”” in al Jazeera’s ‘Elephant in the room’: The US military’s devastating carbon footprint’ (12 Dec 2023).

      The delicious irony of this is that it is USAF themselves that are the biggest creator of an enemy that they can’t possibly fight…

      In the same way, the biggest geopolitical irony is that the US and China collaborated to create COVID 19 in the WIV, where Chinese know-how and resources were backed by US funding and organization!

    2. heameantwell

      Fully agree with your point about the distraction from climate change. It’s early, and my geostrategic cortex isn’t on line, but I’m hoping that Helmer is right, decisively so, and that this greatly increases the pressure on the US to back down. Coordinated action on climate change is still far off but, who knows, that might change with a disastrous hurricane season.

    3. eg

      Yes, why are “we” (I’m not an American, living as I do in the vassal state next door known to some as “America’s Hat”) there?

      Increasingly it appears to be to secure access to resources on behalf of “our betters.”

      I for one am heartily sick of the deal and would like to see an end to it as soon as possible. I suspect I am not alone.

    4. Mikel

      “These bases have always been magnets for attack…”

      Like lining up all the naval ships in Pearl Harbor.

      1. juno mas

        …or stationing 3 Naval Carrier Group within striking distance of the undefendable Kinzhal missile.

        1. Oh

          From what I can infer from this drone attack, the Kinzhal missile may not be needed. Drones will do. Looks like the C-RAM system was another ineffective system that was foisted (sold) to the US DOD. Capitalism! Capitalism! Capitalism!

    5. Goingnowhereslowly

      Fully agree. The end of empire was sealed when we decided after 9/11 that whoever wasn’t for us—willing to become a client state—was against us and therefore an enemy. I became rather hysterical for a while, going around muttering darkly about watching my country commit suicide (Little did I imagine then how determined we would be to take everyone on the planet with us.) And so it has gone these last two decades as our economic base has been pillaged from within, our citizens spied on, lied to, and increasingly despairing.

      And, oh yes, climate change. I think we can conclude now that the world as we know it will end in fire, not in ice. The question remains whether the fire will originate in nuclear attacks or “natural causes.”

    6. Robles

      Deb Schultz
      thank you. You summed things up in a manner that rational folks across the political spectrum can agree with.
      I had just read where Pelosi is accusing Russia of funding the pro-Palestine protests in the US. Shaking my head, but your words offset the insanity of a so-called leader.

    7. digi_owl

      At the same time new bases are being established in Norway and Finland, and will likely show up in Sweden once NATO gets done horse trading.

  2. i just don't like the gravy

    I was hoping for something more interesting like an Archduke situation, but I suppose this will have to do.

    Make sure you’ve got canned food and ammo squirreled away, as well as a safe place to take shelter!

      1. gk

        Mechanical. <A HREF=…

  3. timbers

    “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.” Something tells me that is NOT what the neocons running our wars are going to take away from this, but will instead conclude we need double triple and quadruple down on our current course. If someone like me could have foreseen this (I’m shocked something like this didn’t happen sooner), why can’t Washington? Of couse not the neocons they love escalation, but there are politicians around Biden who should have seen this as almost certain to occur, with bad political outcomes for Biden. Oh…”Russia is ready too” was not addressed in the article. I mention this, because IMO, Russia might do the world a great service if she were to publicly announce Iran is under full Russian nuclear umbrella protection against any Western attack. That might put an end to US plans to attack Iran and start WW3. Could be wrong about that, buy it is what I’m thinking as a possibility now.

    1. ambrit

      “Russia might do the world a great service if she were to publicly announce Iran is under full Russian nuclear umbrella protection against any Western attack. That might put an end to US plans.”
      Fraid not. The Neo-cons have been making noises about being able to “win” a nuclear war for the past couple of years. I don’t have links off the top of my head, but do trust me when I say that the Neo-cons are that stupid.

        1. Randall Flagg

          Well then hell, might as well just fire them off rather than refurbish them. Start fresh with a new version of ICBMs.

          Maybe a few thousand years from now when mankind can start something of a collective society again.

          1. digi_owl

            I guess that is one way to test if they are still capable of going boom, another thing Pentagon is not sure about right now.

      1. Paul Art

        OTOH I think it may be to Russia’s advantage to be silent in order to tempt the US into a foolish foray into Iran and it can then help Iran to convincingly defeat it. Russia and Iran together would make a formidable adversary. This would also help Russia quicken its pace of progress in Ukraine when America’s attentions and resources currently assisting Ukraine are drawn away or are not given enough attention?

    2. Martin Gavin

      “Escalate to de-escalate?” Followed to its conclusion, such behaviour could get us all killed. Fortunately, the Russians have been more risk-averse (at least until now.)

    3. Feral Finster

      LOL, Russia is fighting a war right now literally on her own borders, a war that the neocons escalate whenever they feel like it.

      Stop kidding yourselves.

  4. ChrisFromGA

    How many wars is the US entangled with?

    I’ve lost count. Let me try:

    Operation “Pristine Miami Condo” (Ukraine)
    Operation “Air and sea cover for genocidal Bibi” (Israel)
    Operation Inflation Fail-guardian (Yemen)
    Operation “Let’s pretend we’re not at war with Syria by doing periodic air strikes at ‘Isis'” Syria, Iraq

    I’m sure I missed one. And I’m not counting things like sending military advisors (Ecuador) or sabre rattling (Taiwan.)

    1. timbers

      I still waiting for Congress to declare war. With a proper Supreme Court, these wars each of them would require a Congressional vote.

      1. jsn

        The law went out when the “rules based order” came in.

        Except, like Calvin Ball, the law’s great when “we” abuse it.

        The law-fare against Trump and third party ballot access can be viewed as “rules based order” coming home to roost.

  5. The Rev Kev

    I can see two possibilities. The first is that it might have been a lucky shot. Something like that happened during the First Gulf War when the remains of a shot down missile crashed into a place where US soldiers were sleeping and I think that a few dozen were killed. Of course the question remains how that hit actually happened. So all those cargo planes taking off from the US might be filled with air defence systems for local use. The Pentagon will have a tight lid on what actually happened here.

    The second possibility was that it was a deliberate hit. That base has been there for several years so no doubt military professionals identified all the parts of that base and knew where to hit to get maximum result. If so, then it brings up an interesting point. The US has about a thousand bases scattered around the world for use in hitting the locals, influence operations, spying, etc. and up to now they were considered assets. But supposing that lots of groups have been paying very close attention to the lessons of the NATO-Russian war, suddenly a lot of these bases may become targets instead. Trying to defend those bases may as difficult as defending ships in the Red Sea.

    Of course the usual maniacs are demanding that Iran be attacked but the Pentagon will not be keen on that one. When Trump was President he wanted a small attack against Iran so that the US would not lose face after an attack. He let it be know that it did not matter if it was a crap house in the middle of the desert but he needed to do something but the Iranians refused permission for him to attack their country. And that tells you all you need to know about the military equation in this region and since then it has gotten worse for the US. But with Biden, you just never know.

    Here is a better map showing where this base is in relation to the local area by the way-

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Rev.

      “But with Biden, you just never know.”

      You can add the next likely UK PM, Starmer, although UK forces have their issues.

      I was at at a City event with his Treasury team last week. After the talk, which centred on the UK economy, we dispersed to amuses bouches and drinks. The Labour in the City Network crew in attendance, some of whom advise the shadow cabinet and want to stand for parliament, were at pains to say, “The era of student t shirt politics is over.” Asked to clarify, they replied that Corbyn’s agenda for peace, including justice for Palestine, is history and a muscular approach to foreign policy, Atlanticist and supportive of free trade, including sea lanes, is coming. I tried hard not to splutter into the wine.

      1. Russell Davies

        Thank you for your insight about the Labour party’s new foreign policy. It’s just another reason not to vote for Starmer in the forthcoming general election.

        It’s hard to see where Starmer’s muscularity is going to come from, however, bearing in mind the mess the British military is in currently. The Telegraph was reporting this weekend that the Royal Navy’s destroyers or frigates are unable to fire missiles at Houthi land targets, leaving the US to carry out the majority of strikes; the UK is reduced to supporting the US with its Cyprus-based planes, a position the Cypriots aren’t necessarily happy about, with pro-Palestinian protests already taking place at the gates of the RAF’s Akrotiri base.

        The Telegraph piece comes on the back of a report in the Times the previous weekend saying that the number of soldiers in the British army is set to fall to around 68,000 by 2026 and that, on present trends, in a decade that number will be 52,000, not quite big enough to fill Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium (obviously the ‘Etihad’ is a new military metric). Commenting on this collapse, the shadow defence secretary, John Healey, was clearly making a pitch for the military vote when he called for the government to get a grip on the army’s recruitment and retention crisis.

        The government will also have to deal with the MoD’s Equipment Plan, which the National Audit Office has just declared to be unaffordable, reporting the plan’s largest ever deficit since its inception in 2012.

        Perhaps Labour intends to get a grip on these crises by riding on the back of General Sanders’s call for a citizen army to combat Putin, in effect, a call for the total mobilisation of the nation, where the defence of the realm becomes the responsibility of everyone who can bear arms. Starmer’s Labour, in its muscular approach to foreign policy, could seek to harness a new martial energy as we march off to war with Russia. War is peace in Neo-New Labour.

      2. Hastalavictoria


        A Rayner,Vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, and Johnathan Reynolds ,whom may have met,
        according to Sqwakbox, received a bit of a battering when confronted by someone who hadmembers of his family killed in Gaza.

        Sqwakbox is an excellent site for picking up the latest labour issues and as far I am aware never been sued.

        Very small articles,another interesting one today,a lady making a 5 pound donation to UNRAW had her account blocked.

      3. digi_owl

        “supportive of free trade, including sea lanes”

        I can’t help think of the claim that WW1 started as much over a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad as the shooting of an archduke.

    2. Skip Intro

      Who will benefit from US escalation? Who has been trying to get US to attack Iran for 45 years? Asking for a friend.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, that is the reverse of the story Douglas Macgregor tells. Trump did order the hit on Solemani. But there was an incident Macgregor has described repeatedly where IIRC one of these supposed Iranian militias hit a US base and did damage. Everyone runs into Trump all ready to strike Iran. Trump says, “What happens next?” They say, “Oh, we’ll be at war with Iran.” Trump says, “No, what happens next?” He gets mumble shuffle. Trump then says, “Did any one die in this attack?:” He is told no. Trump says no attack. Everyone is mad.

      1. Paul Art

        Thanks for recounting this Yves. I read all of Woodward’s books on the Trump Presidency and I actually came away with a positive image of him. IIRC, Woodward’s silent admission in those books seems to be, ‘he meant well but the crew around him were all from Wall Street and blocked his every move, especially his Chief of Staff Meadows. I was especially intrigued by how his Trade Czars Peter Navarro and Robert Lighthizer doing their best to reverse the decades long trade imbalances and their efforts to reverse the outsourcing of manufacturing were denied entry to the Oval Office continually by the Wall Street goons surrounding Trump. It must be said that Trump made it easy to do this since he had such a lack of focus that anyone could distract him with another problem when they wanted him to stop focusing on something and he would be onto that in a flash. Most of the tariff changes Trump instituted have been continued by Biden which means Trump did do something good for the working class. I never really took notice of Trump – always believed in the MSM TDS coverage until that day he showed up at the Carrier plant in Indiana to support the workers and force Carrier to delay their move to Mexico. This was in 2016 and Obama was AWOL. It was small crumbs but at least it was something. In the same context, I think Shawn Fain yielded his recent endorsement to Biden too quickly.

    4. Arkady Bogdanov

      Deliberate targeting, or plain lucky, we don’t know. However, I would think that a CRAM would be relatively easy to defeat. A CRAM is just the truck mounted version of the naval Phalanx system, which like many US weapons, is fairly long in the tooth. It is not a primary AD system. It was designed as a short range system to attempt to stop incoming anti-ship missiles that managed to first get past the carrier air wing, then the anti-ballistic missile system in a naval group. It was designed as the third and final layer in naval AD. It has 2 flaws when used on land. Its radar is basically line of site, so approaching munitions can use terrain to conceal their approach (not a problem on water], it also operates as a radar corrected Gatling gun. It fires a dense line of projectiles that are radar corrected until they cross the line of the target- the important aspect of this, is that the system can only engage one target at a time, moving through incoming targets selectively as they approach, so it would be very easy to overwhelm with even a small number of missiles or drones. An ABM system such as the patriot or S-300 can launch missiles at multiple incoming targets- CRAMs simply cannot do this, which is why the navy mounts multiple Phalanx systems on any ship that has room for them.

      1. Arkady Bogdanov

        I was distracted when I wrote the above- apologies. The Phalanx and CRAM move through multiple targets *sequentially* (not selectively). It continuously fires many thousands of projectiles at a target until that target is destroyed, then shifts to the next target, moving from target to target until they are all destroyed. The time from target acquisition to impact is what matters. If it only has enough time to shoot down 3 targets between acquisition and impact, then a swarm of 4 missiles will defeat one of these systems, and….they can and do run out of ammunition while firing.
        And my last should have said that this is why the navy often mounts multiple Phalanx systems on one ship.

        1. Paul Art

          This is interesting. So it focuses on one target till that is destroyed, i.e. its radar can no longer detect that target. So if I wanted to flummox it then I would keep sending weak targets from the same position repeatedly while I send a fleet of FPV drones from another direction and kill it.

    5. hk

      A third, floated by Ray McGovern, is that it was Israelis that did it, a false flag attack. The previous exchange between US and Iran, per Yves’ recollection below, which I also vaguely remember, was that Iran acted with far more restraint. The hit apparently involved something “big,” per Larry Johnson, possibly involving something on the scale of a Hellfire missile. Further, air defense was not active because the incoming drone was identified as a “friendly.”. Since both McGovern and Johnson do go off the reservation sometimes, I’m not inclined to trust them too much when they offer up wild-ish speculation, but there are some oddities here.

      1. Paul Art

        This was my very first thought when I heard the news. Mossad. But Scott Ritter in his live show on Danny Haipong last night did not offer this theory. He in fact completely accepted that it was one of the anti-Bashar groups in the area. There was also the other information offered by Mercouris that drones do not do so much damage as this one did

  6. Ashburn

    By my count the US has roughly 2500 troops in Iraq, 900 in Syria, 350 in Jordan, and perhaps 500 in Somalia. Not enough to do anything worthwhile except try to protect themselves from attack, since they must know they are surrounded by hostile locals. On the other hand, they make for excellent targets if the US is looking for a provocation to attack Iran.

    Biden is trapped. He can leave troops in place and retaliate against Iran (always Iran, of course) which will only escalate the the attacks, as well as endanger the Straits of Hormuz and risk a doubling of oil prices. Or, he can withdraw the troops from these exposed positions and suffer the inevitable attacks from the neocons and the Israeli lobby. All this with less than eleven months to go before Election Day.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The number of US troops is supposed to be higher than that. But in any case then you have to add a few hundred or even thousand ‘contractors’ in this region who are not on the official books.

    2. ilsm

      Somewhere yesterday the US presence at Tower 22 was alleged to be advisors for Jordan maintaining its borders from whomever. Other sources stated it is supply/reinforcement center for al Tanf and US occupation forces in eastern Syria.

      My observation is, except for logistics troops, most US soldiers in the US enclaves at the Iraq/Syria/Jordan borders are US special forces.

      Continuously connected with Obama’s Arab Springing Assad.

    3. David in Friday Harbor

      Since petroleum derivatives, GMO crops, and bombs are just about the only American exports left, is doubling oil prices a “risk” or a feature?

      1. Pym of Nantucket

        Especially if the real plan is Europe as scorched earth. The politicians may be stupid but the planners aren’t, they’re just “realists” (psychopaths from what I can tell).

  7. Carolinian

    In Biden’s response statement he said he and Jill were very upset. Well if Jill is upset then that settles it. Or maybe his mind was just wandering as usual.

    Here’s betting they do not attack Iran. He and Jill (in fact she encouraged him to run) want to be re-elected.

    As for “psychopath” Trump, he has Repub primary voters hungry for red meat. Who knows what he would really do. But I do believe the Ukraine war would not have happened under Trump–Gaza more likely.

    1. Paul Art

      Amazing to know Jill wanted him to run. One wonders how much of a factor Hunter Biden’s travails played into this. I thought she was probably the last person in the WH to have any commonsense left but alas.

  8. John9

    I was a USArmy tripwire hostage in the German and Korean vassal states from 1969 to 1971. We understood that our role was to die in any attack so that the public back in “the world” would support more ginned up war. Just like the ships in Pearl Harbor.
    In Germany our plan was to head to Spain asap. In Korea, there was nowhere to go so we just partied and stayed high as much as possible. Sad about the one who got blown away in Jordan…but sadder still their purpose in being there.

    1. tawal

      Thank you for sharing John9.
      I’m glad you survived the ordeal to tell your peace. I wish you good health. As they say, the truth will set you free.
      Please continue to tell your experience, widely, our world needs to hear it every day.
      Apollo Speed,

  9. jhallc

    If I recall, Trump tried to get us out of Syria but, couldn’t quite complete it as the Pentagon was mightily upset. Here’s why we are still there according to “”.

    “In northeast Syria, the United States is working with our partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS to support the enduring defeat of ISIS through stabilization efforts in liberated areas.”

    Oh… and also to steal their oil!

    1. Skip Intro

      To be fair, Obama also tried to get out, after he got in, and the DoD overruled him by attacking some Russians.

  10. V V Gerasimov

    Something smells rotten here. Supposedly the world is on the brink of WW III / nuclear Armageddon, and yet this morning the DJIA is up, oil is down, gold isn’t rocketing up and silver is still under $23. The markets (the proverbial “dog that didn’t bark”) are saying that this is all kabuki theater.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If you are looking at the stock market to tell you what is happening in the world, you are looking at the wrong place.

      The stock market didn’t see September 2008 coming and that’s in its own backyard. Bernanke said “subprime is contained” in March 2007 so everything was hunky dory.

      All of our Middle Eastern misadventures have not hurt investors. Nor (yet) has pouring money down a sinkhole called Ukraine The dot bomb era, the derivatives crash of 2008 (fueled by subprime) and the Covid crash did. So Mr. Market assumes this will not be different.

      1. cfraenkel

        If anything, the conflicts so far have just been more contracts and higher revenue for the US MIC. And at least some of that money pouring down the sinkhole just gets recycled into purchase orders. What’s not to like? /s
        The real mystery is the DAX. Every other day sees stories of factories shutting down from high energy costs and the end of the German industrial powerhouse, but the DAX chugs along unchanged. For that matter – where are the signs of the disaster that was (is) Brexit in the FTSE 100? The only real-world signal there is the first Covid selloff, but since then, back to normal, even though Covid’s impact today is far worse than the first wave (just well papered over).

    2. Feral Finster

      Even if nuclear Armageddon were in fact scheduled for this afternoon, the investors wouldn’t be able to cash out their gains or do anything with the proceeds.

      If Armageddon were to be called off, then they are in the same position as they were before.

      Basically, it’s like having a put option on a counterparty that can’t pay if the option is exercised. It’s doesn’t matter whether or not the option is in the money.

  11. Morongobill

    I think the six air refueling tanker planes leaving March Air Force Base out here in Southern California in the last few hours is an ominous sign for what’s to come in the Middle East.

    They must think our air bases in the area must be possible targets and the jets need to stay in the air.

    1. hk

      How many warplanes can 6 refueling aircraft reasonably support? It doesn’t seem like it can support that many, certainly not enough for a massive airstrike from far away.

      1. digi_owl

        Dunno about fuel capacity, but depending on the coupling used each can handle between 1 and 3 “customers”.

        1. hk

          I’d assume a “serious” attack on Iran would require dozens of airplanes which will have to operate far from their bases. It doesn’t seem like six tankers amount to much, then…..

  12. Aurelien

    I don’t want to seem hard-hearted, but in reality, if you put combat troops in a region where there is fighting, you have to expect attacks from time to time, even with casualties. This happened all the time in Afghanistan in the provinces, and even sometimes in Kabul. What’s different here is the nature of the attack: rather than the personnel being expected to duck down behind the blast-proof walls, the assumption is that the base will be protected by clever technology. But no technology is perfect, and something will always get through, especially if, as seems to be the case, this is the first attack of its kind. So it’s really up to Washington how much of a fuss they make about it.

    What is clear is that small military outposts like this are vulnerable as never before to attacks from a considerable distance, which the troops deployed there can’t detect until very late. If such attacks continue, the position of these bases is going to become untenable, which is going to pose a massive political problem.

    The most likely role for the US troops would be assisting the Jordanians in countering the drugs trade from Syria. What remains of the pharamecutical industry in Syria, which was once quite advanced, turned over to producing synthetic, highly-addictive, drugs like Captagon, some years ago. In the past, these were mainly transited through Lebanon, but in recent years a lot of effort has gone into securing the Lebanese-Syrian border, although the Army still has to fight pitched battles with traffickers from time to time. I’ve been told by Jordanians that more recently the traffickers prefer to come through Jordan, which is a much larger country and whose borders are easier to penetrate, to feed the growing market in the Gulf. This Al Jazeera story suggests that’s probably true.

    1. Offtrail

      The notion that US would station troops on the Syrian border to defend Jordan from the drug trade is risible. US troops have been in eastern Syria for many years to deny Syria access to it’s own oil and most productive croplands, and to support rebels against the Syrian government.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I indeed find the idea of US helping anyone to fight drug trade hilarious (in a sad way, though). Pretty much any random country on Earth would be better at it.

        At least any of those who don’t let military to do law enforcement, since regardless of slogans like “war” on drugs, it is still a criminal offence.

        1. Aurelien

          I doubt if they are doing that directly. But we aren’t talking about “drug trafficking” in the Hollywood sense, or about law enforcement, but about major threats to the stability of the region from large and well organised paramilitary gangs that pose a threat to the viability of the states. Lebanon and Jordan, for all their weaknesses, are the last two reasonably stable states in the region. Western countries, including but certainly not limited to the US, have been trying to help Lebanon and Jordan with border security for years, partly against Daesh, but partly also against drug and human trafficking, which has become a major threat. Western trainers don’t take part in combat operations but do provide training in such things as surveillance and drone operations: I’ve seen them.

          So it depends who you believe. You can believe locals, including government officials and military officers, as well as journalists and NGOs who have sounding the alarm for years about this problem, or you can believe … well, I don’t know really.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Not a local, but an in-law is an ex-US Marine who wasted two years in Central Asia operating with locals against drug traffickers. According to him the situation just got worse, pretty much like it did in Afghanistan.

            But I’m sure it’s totally different in Jordan-Syria border; US military presence in al-Tanf for 8 years has certainly stabilized the the whole area and has brought the drug trade to a halt. Right?

            1. Aurelien

              I doubt it, but as I said the issue is border security and training of what is effectively a counter-insurgency force, like the Land Border Regiments in Lebanon. I don’t know what the US is doing there any more than you do, and I doubt if they are doing it especially well, but the big problem in Jordan is on the frontier with Syria, which is long and poorly defended, and frequently crossed by large and well-armed groups of the type described in the Al Jazeera article. Some of these people are jihadis, of which various species still exist, but the really worrying ones are the drug smugglers, who are well-armed and ready to shoot it out. The fact that the site was described as a “tower” suggests to me that it was linked to border security because those frontiers are protected by towers. As I said, I doubt if the US forces are actually operating with the Jordanians, but they may well have a training team there and surveillance systems including drones.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                I crossed that Jordanian border just the once – 20 years ago on my bike. My main memory of it is a few scruffy Jordanian soldiers insisting I cycled through a muddy looking truck wheel washing dish supposedly for phytosanitary reasons – I doubt if any disinfection had been added to it for weeks. My bike was even dirtier emerging the other side.

                The Jordan/Syria border is very wide and open, I would imagine it would be very difficult to secure. The Lebanon border is even tougher, I once crossed it over by accident (no security whatever on small roads), which isn’t something that I’d advise anyone to do, thankfully nobody was bothered at the time.

        2. Skip Intro

          Turf wars between competing drug cartels is not entirely unknown, the mission can be supporting ISIS, stealing oil, AND grabbing the drugs. Where do we think the captagon reportedly given to Ukrainian soldiers was sourced?

    2. Feral Finster

      Because the US cares so much about the local drug trade.

      Whom do they think they’re kidding?

  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    There is some dispute as to the location of the drone strike.

    The BBC buried what should have been the lede:

    US Central Command and President Biden said the attack was on a base in northeastern Jordan, near the Syrian border. It was later named by US officials as Tower 22.

    A Jordanian government spokesman, Muhannad Moubaideen, however, told state TV that the attack targeted al-Tanf base in Syria.

    As I noted on my cruddy little blog, the geographic margin for error here is smaller than a Tiger Woods drive with a bit of a breeze to his back.

    The proximate cause for boots on the ground in Syria was the presence of Daesh (ISIS), and with that group broken as an organized military and organized government, the only reason to keep troops in Syria is to keep troops in Syria.

    So expect more body bags.

    1. digi_owl

      That setup seem like a paper trail slight of hand.

      Supplies being legitimately shipped to the official base in Jordan, and then trucked over the border to the true base come nighttime.

    2. Ignacio

      If that is true, and it might be true, there you are: just a few miles between those bases makes the crucial difference to justify whatever they now might try in Iran. Because one is legal and the other is non legal occupation of foreign territory. The US has a long tradition about finding excuses for war. I recall as long as from 1898 the least. Problems are declining rates of strategic success.

  14. LifelongLib

    I semi-subscribe to the view that most nations have some overarching geographic or strategic situation that (broadly speaking) determines their foreign policies for decades or centuries. So the specific sort of government doesn’t matter all that much internationally — Weimar Germany was re-arming before Hitler showed up, Stalin’s reaction wasn’t all that different from what the Tsar’s would have been, Britain (if it still had the means) would have a big navy whether it was run by Labour or Tories or a monarch etc.

    Is this view utterly false? Does it not apply to the U.S. (sometimes I think that’s why our policies seem so goofy — they’re all ideology)?

    1. Steve H.


      U.S. has two oceans, can’t be flanked, so its political ideologies develop without being tested by near-peer neighbors. Allows for development of Folie-a-too.

      Note that we do have a neighbor testing assumptions on our southern border, which has resulted in the biggest armed Fed/State standoff in a half-century. See Boyd on ‘internal contradictions‘.

  15. Sandra

    We are experiencing incredibly nervous times. The US military is lowering enlistment standards (again)… UK citizens are posting all over social media about a “citizen army” and their unwillingness to participate. Trump has made it clear the US involvement with NATO is not in the best financial interest of the country. What’s undeniable is that even if every generation thinks “this is the big one” human tensions have never been higher since we were all sentenced to home arrest in 2020.
    Common sense tells me even if there are puppet governments all over the world, no one wants to die. No one wants to see the planet burn in our life time. Sadly, no one wants to acknowledge we all live on the same rocket floating through the universe, either. At some point, humanity will have to learn to live together but I don’t think we will get to see that day. In which case, we failed.

  16. elkern

    Just want to add a couple interesting data-points from my attempts to make sense of this:

    1) The Drive/Warzone says that the drone slipped past US defenses by following a US drone back to the base, confusing US systems and personnel. Seems plausible to me; also smart, and appalling that US military didn’t anticipate & train to defend against this. OTOH, [Russian?] ECM tech might have played a part there, too.

    2) Arizona National Guard troops were stationed there (a one-year deployment???), and were among the wounded (no dead). This seems insane to me, but I suppose it’s become normal since the invasion of Iraq, when Rumsfeld’s NeoCons realized that using Nat’l Guard units overseas was cost-effective.

    1. elkern

      New data point: all three killed were Black. I suppose that’s not too surprising, as African-Americans have borne a disproportionate share of casualties in all US “wars” in my lifetime.

      The Democratic Party depends on Black votes, but it may depend even more on NeoCon money…

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