Over the last few weeks Iran has been posturing increasingly more aggressive toward the U.S. and other western powers and has begun outfitting a fleet of small fast attack boats with warheads for suicide missions. Additionally, Iran has a large inventory of mines and has been publicly developing offensive missiles. Iran has threaten to shut down the all important Straits of Hormuz, of which, most of the oil from the area passes, if western powers impose any more sanctions.
Europe recently imposed tough sanctions on Iran, most of which will take effect this summer and the U.S. has its own set of sanctions in addition to those imposed by the U.N. Security Council.
Iran also has 10 small submarines now, and a growing cadre of ballistic missiles and no shortage of humans willing to guide one of the warhead equipped suicide boats into a US warship.
Vice Admiral Mark Fox of the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet, headquartered in Bahrain, said they Navy is ready for the fight and has been watching with "interest" Iran's progression towards what seems to be an inevitable war. Analyst and diplomats have grown concerned, not because of the threat itself, which the US has overwhelming military power, but because Iran may have crossed a line that it feels it can not back down from and will itself feel compelled to go to war from internal domestic expectations.
The U.S. Navy currently has an aircraft carrier along with a sizable battle group and supporting ships in the Persian Gulf, including several air wings, submarines, attack frigates, guided missile cruisers along with offensive assets. Each are equipped with extensive armament and defensive protection measures. Additionally, The U.S. Air Force has long range assets positioned on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and NATO assets based in Incirlik, Turkey, an original founding member of NATO.
Asked if he took Iran's threats seriously, Fox Said: "Could they make like extremely difficult for us? Yes they could. If we did nothing and they were able to operate without being inhibited, yeah they could close it, but I can't see that we would ever be in that position."
"We are very vigilant, we have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready... What if it happened tonight? We are ready today."
In addition to US Navy assets in the region, there are also other western powers that make up the Multinational Gulf Taskforce who's mission is to keep shipping lanes open.