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March 28, 2024 34 mins

Robert and James talk about the new realities of irregular naval warfare, and particularly how the Houthis have fought the U.S. Navy to a standstill in the waters around the Gulf of Aden.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
All Zone Media. Welcome back to It Could Happen Here
a podcast about things falling apart, and also about militant resistance,
which is an aspect of things falling apart. As things
fall apart any country, you get people who crawl out

(00:24):
of the woodwork to either accelerate that process or try
to reverse it in their own lives, and some of
those people use weapons to do that. Now, we've talked
a bunch on this show about the various forms that
militant resistance can take. We've chatted extensively on this network
about Rojava. We've talked a fair amount James Stout and I.

(00:45):
James is on the show today, by the way, Hello James,
Hi Robert. We've talked a lot about me and mar
and the gin Z Revolution, there three D printing of
firearms and kind of this war that these people have
been waging in the Jungles successfully in order to overthrow
the military dictatorship of their country. But we haven't talked

(01:08):
a whole lot about naval warfare. And this is because
for most of history, for most of at least our
recent history, naval warfare was not really a thing insurgents
could engage in, right you know, you could every now
and then, if a ship was docked or something, you
might be able to get off a bombing, right, like
what happened to us as coal. And I'm not expressing
general sympathy for everybody who does a militant insurgent act,

(01:32):
but I am talking about like the overall kind of
like tactics and strategy that underline how that stuff works.
And one of the things that's really changed in the
last couple of years, since twenty twenty two, you can
really mark it out, is that irregular non state groups
can now to an extent never before possible, challenged the
sea power of nations like the United States, which has

(01:54):
an unquestioned, previously at least unquestioned level of dominance in
sort of conventional naval power. And we talked about conventional
naval power in the twenty first century. That means aircraft
carrier groups. Right, the US has eleven of them, which,
if I'm not mistaken, is more than the rest of
the world. We have a lot of fucking aircraft carriers.
And previously that was believed to be you know, a

(02:16):
guarante of book dominance on sea. And if a carrier
group or two is in the area. You generally, we generally,
the United States generally could count on having air supremacy.
You certainly wouldn't expect it to be countered. You know,
you could expect, like, for example, if we were to
have a conflict over Taiwan, the Chinese navy could or
the Chinese army could potentially interdict a carrier group using

(02:38):
ground based you know, ground to see anti ship missiles
or something like that. But we're increasingly in an era
in which these kind of irregular non state groups have
access to similar technology and have access to kind of
even more bespoke technology like drone swarms that poses a
unique threat to the naval dominance of the United States.
And I wanted to start, you know, we've got a

(03:00):
two part of here. We're going to be talking about
the Huthi's in Yemen. We're going to be talking about
the Ukrainian navy, which does not really have much in
the way of boats, but is still challenging the Russian navy.
And we're going to be talking about rebels in Myanmar.
We're going to start today, we'll be talking about the
Huthi and to understand Huthi resistance to the United States
and why a militant group has had such success challenging

(03:22):
US naval power. You first have to understand how they
got to the point that they're at right now, where
they are kind of, in a lot of ways a
near state actor, you know, not a world power actor,
but near state actor. You know, they're probably more capable
in some ways than the State of Yemen, which they
are at war with. Yeah, yeah, And to get how
they got to that point, you have to understand what

(03:43):
happened with their fight against the Saudis. So, the Huthi
Movement or ansar Allah, which means Supporters of God, is
a Zaidi Shia Islamist movement run primarily by members of
the Huthi tribe. Zadi Islam is a bit of an
odd duck. You'll hear it described as, yeah, like a
sh a Shia segment. It's really probably more accurate to

(04:03):
look at it as like it's kind of in between
Shia and Sunni of like the Shia kind of denominations,
it's kind of closest to being Sunni. I'm not an
expert on any of this, but it comes out of
a guy named Zaid Iban Ali's rebellion against the Umi
Yad caliphate, which did not succeed, but we still have
the Zadi. What matters for our purposes today is that

(04:24):
the Huthi as a movement came out of opposition to
the Yemen's president Abi Abdullah Salah, who was corrupt as hell.
He was seen as corrupt, and he was in fact
corrupt as hell, and it was specifically they were accusing
him of basically being bribed by the Saudis. That's where
like the Huthi started the rebellion in around two thousand
and three. So they began as a resistance movement to

(04:46):
this corrupt president Salah. They adopted the slogan God is
the greatest, death to America, death to Israel, and a
curse upon the Jews, which is still their slogan. So
they are not what you would call unproblematic again, but
now that they are fighting out there, they're not hiding it,
you know, dig for this stuff.

Speaker 2 (05:07):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and I using the triple parentheses
they say the thing.

Speaker 1 (05:12):
Yeah, and it's you know, part of why we're talking
about a regular naval warfare is that who knows what
the next few years are going to include it's always
a long shot, but there's not a zero percent chance
that people listening to this will wind up engaged in
some sort of irregular conflict. And that's it's important to
understand how modern technology has changed the dimensions of how

(05:33):
that works from like a naval perspective. So that's why
we're talking about this now. Who they armed activities against
the Saudis really kicked off and hit a major level
after the mini civil war, which officially started in twenty fourteen.
The new president of Yemen, who was not Salah at
this point, asked for military support from the international community,
which in this case meant the Saudis right. So the Saudis.

(05:56):
It's called a coalition. There's technically some other people involved,
but it's the Saudis right. And the president of Yemen
calls in the Saudis when his forces are kicked out
of the capital of Yemen, Sana by hoothy fighters. By
the way, when the Houthi take sna Is, when they
get their first cruise missiles, largely just like a bunch
of scuds and stuff, so like old Soviet shit, right.

(06:18):
Operation Decisive Storm is the name that Saudi Arabia gives
to their intervention in Yemen, and a lot of people
will say this is basically Saudi Arabia's Vietnam, not an
inappropriate comparison to make. So the Saudis start bombing the
shit out of the Huthi and then they send in
ground forces, because bombing the shit out of people who
are motivated never really works as well as you want

(06:39):
it to.

Speaker 2 (06:39):
Right, Yeah, a lot of people have been bombing a
lot of people. I mean, you can destroy a lot
of shit, you can kill a load of civilians, and
kill a shitload of civilians. Yeah, but many, many such cases.
If you're if you're looking around the world right now.
But yeah, one thing that doesn't tend to do is
really get rid of motivated fighters.

Speaker 1 (06:58):
Yeah, when you've got an air force, everything looks like dressden.
So the Saudis try that for a while. They send
them ground forces, they carry out naval blockades. None of
this does much but make the Houthies more determined, and
they exit this conflict. I mean they're not it's not
like you wouldn't say completely done, but they exit this
conflict with the Saudis a lot stronger, right, a lot

(07:18):
more organized, with a lot better weapons, right, and a
lot of this, you know. So by the way, I
should also state that, like now, the Houthies are on
the side of former President Sala. It's a complicated conflict, right,
but at the end of this all they have a
shitload of Iranian weapons because Iran is a geopolitical enemy
of Saudi Arabia and they see the Houthis as allies,
and so they spend a lot of time this during

(07:39):
this conflict shipping in agtms, which are wire guided missiles
that are just aces and blasting holes in Saudi Arabia's tanks,
which are US supplied, if I'm not mistaken as a general.

Speaker 2 (07:50):
Yeah, a lot of Saudi Arabia stuff is US and like, yeah,
base most of it, right, much of it. Yeah, Yeah,
there are a lot of contractors over there.

Speaker 1 (07:57):
Yeah. And you know, the Houthis they make a lot
in like waves and kind of people who are following
a regular conflicts during this period in the late aughts
because they're so successful and taking out these tanks that
had previously been pretty hard to fuck up, and it's
kind of you know, now, agtms in Ukraine are like
one of the dominant weapons systems that has shaped the
battlefield environment. But this is kind of when people start

(08:18):
to realize, oh, fuck, you know Syria as well, this
is really going to change a lot about how armor
gets used. And this is also where we start to
see the first Hothi deployments of ballistic missiles, which were
used sort of they initially use them, not dissimilarly to
how the Germans used V two's right in World War Two.
There are terror weapons and they're used in retaliation for

(08:41):
Saudi Arabia's use of a terror weapon, which is US
jets and missiles. Right, So Saudi Arabia is terror bombing Yemen,
and Yemen starts firing missiles back at Saudi Arabia because
you know that's what you do, right, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And I'm going to quote here from an article in
the National News, quote Huthi militias and Yemen launched and
this is from twenty twenty two, who the militia's and

(09:02):
Yemen launched ballistic missiles at Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia
on Monday and the latest attack on neighboring states. Two
missiles were destroyed in midflight during the attempted terrorist attack
on Abu Dhabi, while in Saudi Arabia one was shot
down and another missile wounded two civilians in an industrial area.
So that gives you an idea of like where they
are a couple of years ago. And these are not
super advanced cruise missiles, as you can see by that

(09:24):
kind of like casualty rate. Right, they're not doing massive
amounts of damage, but they caused terror.

Speaker 2 (09:29):
Right.

Speaker 1 (09:30):
It's scary to know that a missile could come out
of the sky and kill some of you, and it's
you know, from their perspective, how else are they going
to strike back. They don't have an air force in
the conventional sense, but what we do see here is
by being able to carry out these attacks back on
Saudi Arabia who's bombing them, despite not having an air
force of their own. You already see how new technology

(09:50):
and cruise missiles aren't new technology, but them being available
to a non state actor is fairly new. You see
how that has already changed the game in terms of
like you can't really say the Saudis don't have the
air supremacy. You can still say they have air supremacy
because again, the Houthies don't have much in the way
of airpower at this point, but they can't stop missiles

(10:13):
from hitting their cities entirely, which is a different game
than when you know that's not really a possibility. The
Houthi arsenal today includes a dizzying array of different Iranian, Soviet, Syrian,
and indigenously produced rockets, including the Burkhan three missiles. These
are for long range strikes up to twelve hundred kilometers,
and the Botter P one rockets, which have one hundred

(10:34):
and twenty two one hundred and sixty kilometer range. They
also have old Soviet Frog sevens which are useful to
about sixty five kilometers. None of these are accurate in
cruise missile terms, you know, but they work well enough
for the Houthis' purposes. The Botter Pa is indigenously produced.
It's made by the Houthies. It's thought to be based
on the Syrian Kaibar rocket. It is unguided, and experts

(10:56):
will say it's closer to being functioning as just like
artillery than an actual cruise missile. U and inspectors claim
quote it is produced locally from steel tubing, very likely
sourced from the oil industry. You hear this a lot
in a regular conflict in the Middle East. When I
was in Mosel covering the fighting with Isis, their mortars
were made off out of tubing that was like part

(11:18):
of construction projects. I think that traced back to the
oil industry, at least some of it. Now. There are
several variants of this rocket, like the Botter F and
the P one. It's not really useful going through all
of them. You can find some interesting studies on this,
but it's not necessary to understand their capabilities. Their most
accurate missile, as far as I can tell, is the
OTR twenty one Totchka, which has a range of about

(11:40):
seventy two one hundred and twenty kilometers and a four
hundred and eighty kilogram payload. They only are believed to
have a few dozen of these, although that's an estimate
from an earlier report, and these were the ones they
would use most regularly on ground targets during the Saudi
intervention when they needed a precise strike. And I'm going
to quote from an article and an analysis of their
missile capability. The Houthis first fired a Tachka missile in

(12:02):
September twenty fifteen, targeting the coalitions, that's the Saudi's Soffa
military base in Marib, Yemen. The strike hit a weapons
storage depot and killed sixty coalition soldiers. The Houthis fired
another Toatchka on December fourteenth, twenty fifteen, targeting a coalition
base south of Taia's City in Taia's Yemen. The strike
reportedly killed over one hundred and twenty coalition soldiers. The

(12:22):
most recently recorded tachka fire took place on November nineteenth,
twenty sixteen, landing in a desert in eastern Marab Province.
The target was unclear, but was likely the Arab Coalition's
all weak military camp. So those are significant casualties. These
are very effective weapons that do a lot of damage.
Right Yeah, Now, international experts, and especially if you read

(12:52):
just kind of like think tank analysis of what the
Houthis are doing, we generally say all of this is
only possible because of aid from his Belah and Iran. Right,
That's the only reason the Hoothies have these weapons. Right now,
there is an arms embargo on Yemen. This has not
stopped anyone from getting weapons to Yemen. It also, to
be very fair here, didn't stop anyone from didn't stop

(13:14):
us from selling arms to the Saudis even though they're
bringing those arms to Yemen. Right, yeah, yeah, it possible, Yeah, don't.
I don't know who you want to get angry or
at here. I'm not really convinced either side is you know,
better than the other. Certainly the Saudis are not better,
right right? Yeah that matters. I don't know.

Speaker 2 (13:35):
Yeah, yeah, it's just a shit situation for people who
are trying to get home with me to not get
blown up.

Speaker 1 (13:40):
Yes, yeah, really bad situation. I think that is over
selling it a bit. Obviously, Iranian aid is critical to
the Hoothies and that that has gotten them a lot
of their advanced weapons systems, so I don't want to
undersell it. But at this point, they are making a
significant chunk of these of these cruise missiles, specifically some
of the less advanced ones, indigenously, So because of the

(14:04):
state things you could, I think it is accurate to
say that Iran was crucial to them getting to that state.
But even without Iranian aid, there's a there's a signet
probably a significant degree of time to which they could
continue to produce some of these weapons because they are
making them themselves.

Speaker 2 (14:17):
Yeah, they make three fifty eight missiles, right, like Lloyd
terrain anti aircraft. Yeah. Yes, even if Iran is not supplying,
it's probably worth noting that like this is like an
Iranian design or concept at least, and it allows for
a lot of testing, a lot of like real world
kind of verses the NATO US.

Speaker 1 (14:39):
Let's the Iranians. Yeah, test their weaponry. And again I'm
not trying to undersell how important they are, just you
get a lot of like, well, if we can just
cut off Iranian trade, the hoothies will collapse, and they
think that's accurate anymore. Yeah, maybe, you know, I can't
say that to a point a certainty, but yeah, I
think that that's kind of wishful thinking on behalf of
some people. So these are great weapons for a non

(15:01):
state militant group. Again, this is this stuff. If you
think back ten fifteen years, the idea of a non
state insurgent group having access to a cruise missile library
like this, you know, not to say about like the
other weapons they have, the drones and stuff they have,
It would have been kind of unprecedented. That said, these
are not good weapons in the modern military sense of
the word. Bosh. I mean, they are not very accurate

(15:23):
for the most part, and compared to more advanced missiles
like the kind of the United States, Russia and China have,
they are easy to shoot down with the kind of
weapons systems aboard say, US aircraft carriers. We will discuss
that more later. This is largely inconsequential to what's been
happening in the Red Sea because the vast majority of
naval traffic that passes by Huthi territory does not have

(15:44):
access to say FAYLANKX, FELANX systems. Yeah, you don't have
much in the way of anti missile systems on a
normal containers.

Speaker 2 (15:53):
Yeah, no, you have fanti bridge antiah rhyming devices. But like, yeah,
it doesn't matter if your missile's not super accurate, if
it can't defeat these expensive systems, if you're just eating
them into a narrow channel or anything that goes past.

Speaker 1 (16:06):
Right right right, Yeah, And the Houthis are aware of that,
and this is again an intelligent strategy on their part.
You know, sometimes people get angry when you say that
because they point out horrible things the Hoothies have done,
which I don't want to deny it but we're not
talking about the overall morality of this conflict. We're talking
about how these tactics work, right.

Speaker 2 (16:22):
Right, Like the Nazis had intelligent and strategies as well.
They were terrible fucking people and I'm glad they lost
them are mostly dead, but like, yeah, yeah, we would
be unwise to just dismiss everything that they've been No.

Speaker 1 (16:33):
No, And likewise, the fact that the Houthi's right now
that this interdiction of the Red Sea is based on
an attempt to stop the genocide in Gaza, which I
don't think it's going to work, but I would like
it if somehow it did. That also does not have
an impact on how this is working strategically, right, you
are kind of setting all of that aside to just
talk about how this is functioning, you know. Yeah, So

(16:56):
in recent years, the Houthis have expanded their stock of
anti ship missile. In an article for the International Institute
for Strategic Studies, a guy named Fabian hens Rights quote
the parades these are Huthi military parades also featured a
variety of anti ship ballistic missiles ASBMs and guided rockets
employing Iranian infrared or imaging infrared seeker technology. The four

(17:16):
hundred and fifty kilometer range SEF appears to be a
rebranded ASBM version of Iran's FATA three one three missile,
while the Tongue Kill represents a previously unseen anti ship
version of the IRGC Iranian Revolutionary Guardcore developed five hundred
kilometer range SO higher. The two designs constitute the heaviest
hoothy anti ship missiles, both with warheads of more than

(17:37):
three hundred kilograms and are of Iranian origin. Three smaller ASBMs.
The one hundred and forty kilometer range Fhlek, the Mayun
and the bar al Amar strongly resemble Iranian design philosophy
and seeker technology, but do not precisely match known Iranian systems.
They could either be Iranian systems not observed before in
smuggle to Yemen, or Huthy produced rockets combined using Iranian

(17:57):
guidance skits, not unlike developments made by another Iran proxy,
the Lebanese has Belah and its position guided surface to
surface missile program. Finally, the Huthis have presented an S
seventy five s A two surface to air missile, likely
from pre war Yemeny Army stocks modified for an anti
ship role using an Iranian guidance kit. So that's a
that's that's a potent and it's probably more some ways

(18:20):
more advanced than their general cruise missile stockpile arsenal for
taking out ships. Now, the Huthis are still a non
state force, and when people say online that like the
US is fighting Yemen, not quite accurate, because the Huthis
are fighting Yemen too, right, like the government if you're
if you're saying the government, you're talking about the people, Well,
people in Yemen are fighting each other, right, yeah, it's

(18:40):
it's that is the situation. They are at war with
the government of Yemen. Right, that is still the right case.

Speaker 2 (18:45):
We're fighting, we're shooting missiles at Yemen, but yet like
as a geographical area right in the state.

Speaker 1 (18:51):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So the Huthis did not survive years
of intense bombing by Saudi Arabia and a nation with
an on paper extremely modern military. By I'm making a
lot of stupid mistakes. So when they decided to attack
shipping in the Red Sea after Israel launched their genocidal
campaign against Gaza, they did so with a competent plan,
which was to make civilian freight travel in the area

(19:11):
too dangerous to continue. Their stated goal here is to
force damage on Israel and the Western nations who support
it by hitting the only thing they care about, commerce,
and their actions here have done real damage to international trade,
not exclusively Western international trade. I should note the latest
several months have seen them capture or sink a couple

(19:32):
of merchant vessels. They've sunk one. They've hit at least
sixteen vessels with drones and missiles. I found a Bloomberg
report with the telling title Houthy missiles do far more
damage to trade than to actual ships, which is an
interesting way to frame it. Yeah, and they're kind of
trying to minimize what's going on here. While sixteen strikes
is a large number for the industry to withstand, there

(19:54):
have been even more failed attempts. Since the Houthies began
their attacks, there have been more than sixty incidents of
some kind in and around the world way, including everything
from near misses to hijackings and harassment by armed militants
and small boats. If you look at the damage that's
occurred in most of these incidents, it has not been significant,
says said Marcus Baker, head of the Marine and Cargo
at Marsh, one of the world's top insurance brokers. So far,

(20:14):
we haven't seen a total loss caused by a missile strike.
That changed in March when the Houthi successfully sank the
Ruby Mar despite more than a month of US strikes
to degrade their capability. The vessel was initially wounded and
drifted unmanned for almost two weeks before sinking. While it listed,
A Hoothy representative promised the ship could be salvaged if
aid trucks were allowed to enter Gaza. The Ruby Mar

(20:36):
wound up sinking. Now Hoothy strikes have also hit at
least one ship bound for Iran and another that was
going to be delivering aid supplies to Gimmen. At least
three civilian sailors have been killed thus far, and a
strike on a bolt carrier named the True Confidence. Now,
how you kind of interpret this as a success by
the Houthy stated goals which is right to inflict enough

(20:57):
pain on the West and on Israel economically that it
forces an earlier end to what Israel is doing in Gaza. Right,
if that's their goal, well, it hasn't happened yet. Right,
that's one thing we can say, right, it has not yet.
There's no evidence that I have seen that it has
affected the tempo of Israeli operations substantially.

Speaker 2 (21:18):
You know, Yeah, it would seem it does not so
different and obviously as an incentive for the United States
and other international actors to like not let this tactic succeed,
because you do not want a world in which I
think it's not unreasonably. There's a thing called the right
to protect in international law, which is probably what the
youth he's a claiming they have of the acting under it,

(21:40):
and that's not, like, on the face of it, unreasonable.
But yet I think the US has this very like
strong incentive to not let it become a thing that
keeps happening.

Speaker 1 (21:49):
Yeah. Yeah, I'm not surprised we sent a carrier group
into the area. I'm also not surprised that that does
not seem to be working either. Right, If you are
judging how the US is acting and how the hooth
are acting based on their stated goals, the Houthis have
not yet accomplished their stated goal with these strikes, and
the US air strikes do not seem to have stopped
the Houthis from being able to interdict naval traffic in

(22:10):
the Red Sea. Right, there's I've heard some argument that
the tempo is reduced since the US got there, But
it's also unclear to me, is like, well, they only
have a limited amount of these missiles. Right, has the
t changed because they need to marshal their ammunition effectively,
or has it changed because there's been damage done to
their infrastructure. I don't know that we'll ever really get

(22:31):
a perfect answer on that, right, I know the US
claims that it has. You know, we claim that our
strikes have weakened them, but we always claim that, right, Yeah,
I mean what we're gonna say, right, Yeah, we all
lived through Afghanistan. Right, you're aware of what the US
says about ship like this.

Speaker 2 (22:49):
Yeah, I mean it would look pretty bad if we were,
like now, dude, maxavel for US.

Speaker 1 (22:58):
It's unclear how much which damaged the Hoothies have actually
done to the global economy. As a consequence of all this,
traffic has dropped to the Red Sea by about thirty
five percent, and since the sea carries about twenty percent
of global trade, that's a major hit. But it hasn't
stopped trade through the Red Sea either. Again, most trade
is still you know, most most of the pre war

(23:18):
level is still occurring. Thirty five percent is a substantial drop.
That is a hit, and it's hurt a lot of people. Right.
It also has not wholly blocked like there's a longer
route you can take around Africa to get into the
Red Sea, but that makes everything more expensive too. The
country hurt most is actually Egypt, because Egypt depends on
the Suez Canal for about a quarter of its currency earnings,

(23:38):
and you go through the Red Sea to get to
the Suez Canal. For reasons that are obvious if you
look at a map. Right, people who rightly see what's
happening in Gaza as a crime against humanity are unlikely

(23:59):
to care too much about the Egyptian economy, nor should
they necessarily. But the bigger questions here are can the
hooth He's actually force it into what Israel's doing? And
how long can they keep this up? The answer to
the first question, can the hooth He's forcing into his
Raeli aggression is not yet. And the answer to the
second question is how long can they keep this up?
I don't know they might be able to eventually bring

(24:21):
about international pressure through economic damage, but given the state
of the US presidential election, I don't see that as
particularly likely a method for changing net Yahuu's behavior. The
answer to the second question is, you know, you know,
how long can they keep this up? Probably forever? Right,
US strikes have been lauded by the US's damaging infrastructure,

(24:41):
but we don't know that that's true. Our air strikes
in the region have been launched by the USS. D
White D. Eisenhower, the head of the carrier strike Group
in the Red Sea at present. And again, when you
look at kind of like leftists analyzing this, because they
don't often know much about the military, you'll get a
mix of like people being like, ah, the houthis are
going to kill a carrier because they put out a
video of like a carrier in their sites and shit,
and like, I don't think so, guys, doesn't seem likely.

(25:04):
These are very well defended ships, and they are very
competently led. Look I have looked into the capital of
the ship, I've looked into how they have handled the
considerable tempo of tax against them. I think that these
guys are operationally competent as the US tends to be. Now,
that doesn't mean they're going to win. The US soldiers
tend to be operationally competent most of the time, and

(25:27):
we also lose a lot, right because operational competence doesn't
matter if the operations you're being asked to undertake have
no chance of victory. And that is more or less
the situation. I think that these sailors are in right
where they're pretty good at sailing around in an aircraft
carrier and not getting killed. But that doesn't mean they're
going to defeat the Houthies in a meaningful way right right,

(25:50):
And the Hoothies are aware of this. They're in a
holding pattern. They understand that the primary thing that is
that all of strategy really hinges around stopping and denying
terrain to the enemy. And all the Hoothies have to
do to deny a significant amount of terrain to the
entire west is keep lobbing missiles, often blindly, in this

(26:11):
sea and it will make everything more expensive for everybody,
keep them in the news, and that's a win. And
it's unlikely, if not basically impossible, that using current methods,
the US Navy and US you know, airpower in this area,
based in this carrier group is going to be able
to do anything but spend a shitload of money.

Speaker 2 (26:31):
Now.

Speaker 1 (26:31):
US Navy officers in recent weeks have reported attacks by
both anti ship missiles, regular cruise missiles swarms of unmanned
aerial drones, which has led to a general conclusion among
people who analyze this stuff that drone swarms are going
to be a significant part of naval warfare in the
immediate future. Right, you can overwhelm the houthies, you know.

(26:53):
As impressive as their drone swarms are, for a nonstate
actor cannot put together the kind of a swarm that
a state actor, for example, could. But people are looking
at how how close some hits have gotten to the
carriers and being like, well, shit, if you had a
lot more of these things, you could really cause some
fucking problems for these boats. Right. Yeah. They've also used
unmanned boats and unmanned underwater vessels. These are basically unmanned

(27:16):
drone boats with explosives in them, right, and again, significantly
more of these could potentially do some damage. This is,
by any account, the most direct combat US naval forces
have seen since World War Two, and one thing. I
fun thing I've learned reading articles about the operation is
that our jets now get kill markers for the bombs
they drop.

Speaker 2 (27:33):
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, you can be a drone ace or
not a drone, a missile downing ace.

Speaker 1 (27:39):
Yeah. Yeah. It's like, I don't know, may I guess
it makes sense whatever, it just it doesn't look as impressive.

Speaker 2 (27:46):
I did some googling. I guess you could become an
ace shooting down barrage balloons in World War One.

Speaker 1 (27:51):
But yeah, the stack shooting back.

Speaker 2 (27:54):
Yeah. Yeah, they're very defense strongly defended. Yeah, it's a
little different of V two rockets, I guess in World
War Two. I did also find out that the navel
some of the unmanned underwater vehicles are replacing. More's the
pity the seals and dolphins that were previously in US
Navy service. I don't mean seals like no, no, no,
literal literal seals heartbreaking, Yeah, very sad. They live in

(28:17):
San Diego. I often go past them.

Speaker 1 (28:21):
You know what.

Speaker 2 (28:21):
The seals don't want to do war. They well, but
again added the marine mammals, the other seals very much.

Speaker 1 (28:26):
The dolphins might I remember from the documentary SeaQuest that
they that they enjoy naval service. I think the Dolphin Quest, James,
I've not I've not watched SeaQuest. I'm afraid.

Speaker 2 (28:37):
I'm afraid.

Speaker 1 (28:38):
It's It's Star Trek, the next generation Underwater, but the
role of Picard is played by the sheriff from Jaws.
It's actually fantastic, great.

Speaker 2 (28:45):
Yeah, I'm looking looking forward to being exposed to more
of this universe.

Speaker 1 (28:50):
Lock.

Speaker 2 (28:51):
I'm hoping that the dolphins join force with the Orcas
and take on the super rich with that using the
skills given to them by the US military in Charage.

Speaker 1 (29:00):
So when it comes to the economics of this conflict,
and a lot of this does come down to economics, right,
what the houthy are doing is an incredibly efficient, good
ass deal for them. These drones, specifically, a lot of
what they've done. They fired missiles, but like those are expensive,
they don't have a lot of them. I think that
at this point they would prefer to use those on

(29:21):
ships that cannot defend against them. They have since some
manned boats, which the US has fucking murked immediately, and
they don't seem to be doing that anymore because it's
dumb and the Hoothies didn't get where they did by
repeatedly doing dumb shit. What they seem to have settled
on is sending out drone swarms. Both of these boats,
these underwater drones and of aerial drones, and these things
can cost just a few thousand dollars each. Some of

(29:43):
the biggest ones are probably only tens of thousands of dollars.
But the navy missiles that we use to interdict this
shit and some of these they also have some dumber
cruise missiles that are pretty cheap. The missiles we use
to interdict this shit are two point one million dollars
is shot. Right. This is all in an adition to
the insane cost of keeping a carrier battle group in
the field and fighting. It's not at all cheap. I

(30:03):
found one political article that quotes a DoD official admitting
the cost offset is not on our side. Now, we
have some cheaper systems that can work really well on
particularly drones, that can work on missiles too. We've used
them and that these are air burst shells fired from
the conventional guns on destroyers. These have worked really well,
especially against drones and tests, but they're only effective from

(30:25):
about ten miles or less away. In ballistic missile terms,
that's extremely close. You don't want to rely on these
for AICs, and it's not even all that far away
in drone terms right As a result, the US has
expanded research into more efficient anti drone and anti missile weapons,
including what amounts to layer, laser and microwave weapons that
could be fired indefinitely for the cost of electricity. Given

(30:48):
the nature of these weapons, that's not insignificant either, but
it's a lot less than two point one million is shot.
As is always the case, the kind of fight the
Huthies are waging right now has an expiration date right now.
Any group that can put together a few million dollars
to make hundreds and hundreds of explosive drones right which
a number of groups are capable of, could at least

(31:08):
exact a substantial toll on a US carrier battlegroup, make it,
spend a shitload of money, potentially even do some damage.
And again, even if this stuff hits an aircraft carrier,
you're like very unlikely to see that thing sink. There's
a story that's worth knowing that, Like when we decommissioned
one of our aircraft carriers fifteen or twenty years ago.
They started. They shot at a bunch like they just

(31:30):
to see like how well it would hold up, and
like they such a great sink and they couldn't sink
the fucker like you can do you could kill sailors.
It would be a big deal if they hit a
fucking aircraft carrier and killed some sailors, even if the
carrier doesn't go down, that's a huge fucking deal. I
don't know that they're capable of doing that, but it's
unlikely they're going to kill one, right.

Speaker 2 (31:49):
Right, Yeah, they got to stand oneted a bondiation.

Speaker 1 (31:52):
Yeah, hard, It's hard to do, right. They're made not
to sink, and they're pretty fucking big. But one can
imagine kind of a future in which the war the
Hoothies are waging right now is rendered kind of impossible
because weapons like that are positioned permanently around, say the
Red Sea, blanketing it in an offense grid that basically
kill anything fired into the sea. That's something that might

(32:12):
happen in the future if this continues, But that's also
just the way war works, right. You know, the Hoothies
ten to fifteen years ago wouldn't have been able to
wage a war like this against the US Navy. They
fought the Navy to a stand still. That's the only
way to analyze this, right, and again, that doesn't mean
either side is achieving their operational goals. Right, The Houthis
have not ended the genocide in Gaza, and the US

(32:32):
doesn't seem to be capable of ending the Houthis. So
they fought each other to a standstill in this matter.
And that wouldn't have been possible twenty years ago. So right,
twenty years from now, what's going on will be different.
You know, the fact that the US seems to be
pretty close to developing more efficient anti drone and anti
missile weapons that are a lot cheaper to use doesn't
mean that non state actors will not find a way

(32:53):
around those. But that is the situation we're in right
now with the Houthis, and that is the end of
this episode. We're going to get back to you tomorrow
for part two, where we're going to talk about irregular
naval warfare in Ukraine and Myanmar. James, you got anything
else to say? No, No, it didn't, I didn't think
so you need to be a bad day to be
a boat. I guess bad day to be a boat.

(33:14):
Bad day to be a drone. They're really suffering in this.

Speaker 2 (33:17):
Yeah, it's a great day to be a military contractor,
which is every Oh my god, such a good time
to be a military contractor. Whether you're doing it for
a run or the United States. You are, you are,
you are in Clover right now, which is a massive
change from the entirety of this century so far. So
that's nice.

Speaker 1 (33:36):
Yeah, it's nice to see the military contractors finally pick
up a win.

Speaker 2 (33:40):
Yeah, yeah, one for them.

Speaker 1 (33:42):
That's been It could happen here. We'll be back tomorrow.
It could happen here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
cool zonemedia dot com or check us out on the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
You can find sources for It could Happen Here, updated

(34:04):
monthly at coolzonemedia dot com slash sources.

Speaker 2 (34:07):
Thanks for listening.

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