When relations are as bad as they are between the U.S. and Iran, other ways must be found to communicate. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy deployed overwhelming military strength off the coast of Cuba to signal to Khrushchev that the U.S. was ready for war if the Soviets made those missiles operational.
Donald Trump is also using non-verbal communication to talk to Iran. At Hill Air Force Base in Utah, 52 of the most awesome, the most advanced, the most deadly warplanes ever created — the F-35AII Lightning — lined up and took off in what they refer to as an “elephant walk.” It was the largest elephant walk in history.
What an awesome sight.
Today we launched about 50 F-35s in rapid succession. Part of a long-planned combat power exercise with @388fw, we pushed the boundaries and tested our Airmen’s ability to deploy @thef35 en masse. We’re ready to fly, fight, and win. @usairforce @USAFReserve @USAF_ACC pic.twitter.com/QskjR6lsch
— 419th Fighter Wing (@419fw) January 6, 2020
“Today’s exercise marks the accomplishment of over four years of work — a little over four years ago, we received our first F-35,” Col. Michael Ebner, 388th Wing vice commander, told the Deseret News. “We now have our full complement of aircraft and locally, we turn this into a goal of full war-fighting capability.”
An “elephant walk” refers to the close formation of military aircraft before takeoff.
The base reportedly said the exercise has been planned for months but comes at a time of extreme tension between Iran and the U.S. as President Trump last week ordered the killing of a top general in Iraq. The 388th Fighter Wing tweeted a photo of the rows of jets on the runway and wrote, “We are now at full warfighting capability.”
Without sounding too bellicose, I have to wonder what the mullahs might be thinking if they’re contemplating any kind of serious response to the death of Suleimani. The Iranian air force and their 30- and 40-year-old fighters would be no match for a couple of squadrons of F-35s.
They are banking on American restraint. This probably means whatever retaliation they have in mind will be more symbolic than damaging. Launching some of their missiles at a U.S. base in the region would bring down the wrath of God on them and they know it. Their response will be designed not to give Trump an excuse to let slip the dogs of war.
That’s why all this war talk is silly and transparently political in nature. Trump’s unpredictability will temper any Iranian response. And if it doesn’t…
Well, that elephant will be walking all over the mullahs.