Early this morning, a massive VBIED was detonated in the Port of Khasab, shattering windows throughout the city and causing panic among the citizens on the peninsula. At this time, it appears that the majority of the damage was collateral on the Port itself, and it is reported that several civilians were killed, with several still missing. One ship docked nearby the blast was superficially damaged as well.
Secondary explosions have been heard throughout the day today.
Intelligence on the ground has suggested that atrocities are now actively being perpetrated
in Khasab itself, by militants of unknown exact origin. Khasab Airport has also been taken over by a small militant group, so charter flights have been cancelled.
Due to the recent political complexity of having Joint Task Force Heavy in the Gulf, flight operations in the past three weeks have been reduced to CAP flights in the south, well away from any chance encounters with Iranian fighters.
Operations have been approved by Qaboos bin Said and will resume tomorrow, to keep the insurgency in check and allow ground units to enter the area for liberation.
DUBAI, UAE - After last week's evacuation and first confrontation with Iranian fighter jets, the region has been buzzing about a full fledged armed conflict.
Joint Task Force Heavy [HVY] has grounded all land-based aircraft, while more ground reinforcements arrive at the bases the aircraft are stationed. Personnel are hard at work maintaining and repairing equipment, and Command is briefing pilots for future sorties.
The Captain of the U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN-74) has relayed that there has been a five hundred percent (500%) increase in Iranian incursions both on the Carrier Group, and friendly shores of Oman and the UAE. Hornets and Tomcats from the Stennis have successfully intercepted and warded off all approaches thus far, but the situation is tense - and seems to be getting worse.
Protesters are present Near Al Dhafra AB, and FARP Dallas, but security elements have been able to keep the crowds under control.
Day One - The Message
On the first day of combat operations, Joint Task Force Heavy fulfilled orders to evacuate Dubai International Airport, but with some fair hardships.
- Almost immediately after all aircraft had departed, Patriot Missile Batteries near Al Maktoum detected and fired upon unknown aircraft - out to sea, west of the city.
VF-131 and VMFA-390 Hornets intercepted an Iranian F-5E-3 off the coast of Palm Jebel, destroying it with a missile, approximately one mile from the shoreline - to the dismay of thousands of beach-goers. The Iranian pilot was killed.
- The 48th Attack and Rescue Squadron came under heavy small arms fire and AAA that was located in a Cement Factory south of FARP Dallas, sustaining damage to two UH-1H Iroquois helicopters, and minor to serious injuries to the crew members of each aircraft. Both helicopters made it safely to base, where repairs are currently taking place.
- A Harrier from VMA-290 took damage from the same attackers, but only after that jet took out several of the hostile units. The job done by the Harrier (and his wing-men) quite possibly saved the lives of the UH-1H crews. The damaged Harrier diverted back to Dubai International, where it landed short of the runway, skidding to a stop on 37th Street, in front of the Abaya Mall buildings. The pilot successfully ejected, and was kept safe by friendly citizens before rescue was initiated.
- An F-14B Tomcat from VFC-119 was also lost due to an unknown controls malfunction over the town of Al Hamra while on return from a sortie. Both pilots successfully ejected, and the crash site has been taken over by Special Forces Soldiers until all parts can be trucked to a safe location for storage and disposal.
- A USAF KC-135B Stratotanker was lost while in the pattern for Al Dhafra, with all three crew members perishing in the crash.
Protesters, with suspected insurgent assistance, breached airport perimeter fences and damaged seven commercial aircraft on the north tarmac hours after the final HVY assets departed - with damage estimated to be up to $15 million USD. In addition, UAE residents have started more demonstrations in response to the downed Iranian fighter jet, in pockets across the country.
When word of the downed F-5E-3 Tiger II reached the Iranian Government, state run television in Iran began the condemnation of the "Reckless US Forces, who kill without cause, who will pay for their war-crimes."
It is noted that the waters in the Persian Gulf are heavily disputed and largely claimed by Iran.
An Insurgency has flared up in Khasab and its surrounding mountains. Iran has been blamed for the uptick in violence by U.S. Commanders, as they point to evidence of smuggled weapons and increased radicalization over the population of Sal al Ala, east of Khasab.
Evacuation of all JTF HVY assets and support crew from Dubai Intl, to Al Dhafra AB - has been ordered by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His concern is that such a concentration of high-dollar warplanes in his city will draw the attention of the insurgency more quickly.
Without the support of ground troops in Dubai, Task Force Commanders have agreed to the move.
Rumors are abound in the city - that Joint Task Force Heavy is an immediate target, and this is leading to a fair amount of unrest in the vicinity of Dubai International. With gathering protests on the north perimeter of the airport, the time to evacuate has come.
"Now that both combat and support elements have made it to their respective bases of operation, Joint Task Force Heavy will begin patrols of the Persian Gulf region in the coming week." said the HVY CO, Rear Admiral C. Hackett. "We are ready to carry out any and all orders to keep insurgencies in check from Liwa to Khasab."
So far, the Task Force has the support of the majority of citizens in the UAE, Oman, and Qatar - but there are rumblings of unrest in the more indigenous areas to the south and east of Khasab, Oman.
While the presence of the multinational force has been cheered by leaders such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE, other leaders in the region are not so optimistic of the value of more deployments in their countries.
Some, like Iran, are outraged.
Intelligence is reporting movements of militant groups in the Sal al Ala area, but are working to get us more information on who they are and why they are mobilizing.
In any case, this is a red flag and will be monitored while JTF HVY is deployed in the area.