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Iran eases off on maritime confrontation, Greenert says

WASHINGTON—From a naval perspective at least, the United States’ confrontation with Iran over the regime’s nuclear program has cooled off, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Wednesday.

Around the beginning of 2012, Iran took an increasingly bellicose line over U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf, threatening to mine the Strait of Hormuz and sending small craft to harass U.S. ships in the area. But such threats have mostly evaporated in recent months, Greenert said in a Pentagon press conference.

“They have been professional and courteous, committing to the rules of the road – I’m talking about the Iranian navy,” he said. “We have had some times before when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has tended to maybe close a little too close, but frankly, that hasn’t happened recently.”

Greenert showed a refined version of Navy’s global plan for ship basing under the United States’ much-heralded rebalance to the Pacific, a strategy that hangs in the balance while politicians haggle over deficits and the threat of sequestration-induced budget cuts. Under the Navy’s current plan, ships in the western Pacific would go from 50 to 58 by 2020, while in the Middle East they would rise from 25 to 34.

Some of the ships to be based in the Middle East would likely be smaller vessels like the new littoral combat ships and mobile landing platforms, allowing “higher end” surface combat ships like destroyers and cruisers to be restationed in the Pacific, he said.

Also Wednesday, Greenert announced his selection for the top enlisted position in the Navy. Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer Michael D. Stevens, currently serving at Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., will become the Navy’s Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy in September, relieving current MCPON Rick D. West.

 

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