U.S. pier technology designed for opening new theaters of war

The United States has completed construction of a military landing site — mischaracterized as a pier to receive humanitarian aid — off the coast of Gaza. Soon after the $320 million “floating pier” was finished, part of it broke off and floated away. But this “still functional” port remains a grave threat to the future of Palestine.

Damaged U.S. floating pier

The perpetrators of the genocide have no plans to deliver genuine humanitarian aid. If the U.S. and Israel had any plans to distribute food and medicine to Palestinians, they could simply open the Rafah crossing to the hundreds of aid trucks idling just a few miles away. Rather, this floating pier technology — a “modular causeway system” — creates a landing zone for invasion.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Ansarallah, stated on May 23 that the U.S. had already begun using the pier for military operations: “The American floating port in Gaza is a military base, and Washington exposed itself when it brought in armored vehicles and air defense systems. The United States wants to turn the Gaza Strip into a prison with one gate across the sea, supervised by American military personnel.” (Palestine and MENA Info Center, on X)

‘Mobility into the theater and within the theater’

According to Global Resources, a machine-engineering firm contracted by the Pentagon: “The Modular Causeway System is the Army’s means for offloading war-fighting equipment when no port facility is available. The system is designed for rapid deployment in a variety of configurations.” Global Resources manufactures MCS and other military transport systems, which they refer to as “the backbone of the military’s distribution and resupply system.” (gsglobalresources.com) 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicines is a scientific research organization chartered by Congress and approved by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to develop a scientific advantage for the Union Army during the height of the Civil War. It was expanded under the Woodrow Wilson administration 10  months before the U.S. entered World War I, where it developed multiple forms of high explosives.

In 2014, the National Academy commissioned a report entitled “Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations,” which described this new military technology designed for “mobility into the theater and within the theater.

“The Navy has developed the innovative elevated causeway system-modular. This is essentially a mobile pier system that can be assembled within days of arriving at the site. ELCAS-M has full-size cranes that can be used to offload materiel from vessels. Notably, it can be used where there is no functional port.”

Achieving “sustained land dominance,” the report continues, “rests on the ability of the Army to equip and move its forces to battle and sustain them while they are engaged … The U.S. military must be prepared to fight anywhere on the globe and, in an era of coalition warfare, to logistically support its allies.” (nap.nationalacademies.org, 2014)

A 2010 press release from the U.S. Air Force titled “State of the art equipment bridges the gap” heralded the new technology that had been successfully tested during the “Arctic Edge” military exercises in Alaska.

The landing pier technology went into development in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, at some point in 2004 or 2005. The National Academy paper includes a conception image of an Abrams tank rolling down the causeway pier.

U.S. ‘Contingency operations’

Speaking on the military’s “theater opening capabilities” in Gaza this March, U.S. Army Colonel Samuel Miller referenced the floating port specifically: “Our key [logistical assets] are Army watercraft systems. This includes the logistics support vessel, landing craft utility and the modular causeway system.” 

Miller spoke alongside fellow expeditionary commander Brigadier General Brad Hinson, who added, “We are the Contingency Corps for the Army with units, divisions, brigade combat teams and separate brigades that can deploy anywhere in the world for any type of contingency operation in 18 hours.” (jble.af.mil, March 15)

According to Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which codifies the role of the armed forces and Department of Defense, “a contingency operation is is designated by the Secretary of Defense as an operation in which members of the armed forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force.” (law.cornell.edu)

After 9/11 (Sept. 11, 2001), Congress gave the Pentagon a blank check to fund “Overseas Contingency Operations to support U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries.” Over the next two decades, the U.S. expanded its campaign across West Asia and Africa, spending $2 trillion under the rubric of OCO, still a huge part of the Pentagon budget. In 2020, $70.7 billion of the Pentagon budget was classified as such. The OCO continues to operate as a slush fund, untouched even during the now regular government shutdowns caused by fractious budget debates within the ruling class.

Just a few months before Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza began, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed that no spending caps apply to OCO, saying, “the debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to… deter China, Russia and our other adversaries and respond to ongoing and growing national security threats.” (thehill.com, June 13, 2023)

Within the first few months of the Biden administration, the Department of Defense published a report titled “Justification for the Overseas Contingency Operation Transfer Fund,” which gives an interesting insight into the ongoing military operations of U.S. imperialism.

For example, the OCO Transfer Fund includes U.S.-led NATO operations, where “the majority of the U.S. forces are deployed to Kosovo”; the occupation of Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras to “counter transnational organized crime” and conduct joint military exercises; “the execution of the National Military Strategy” in 10 different countries across North and West Africa; operations in the Horn of Africa; the maintenance of Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. military base in Djibouti; and various “counter-terrorism” programs within the U.S. and around the world. (comptroller.defense.gov)

President Biden ordered Operation Atlantic Resolve through an executive order in July 2022, six months after Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine. This OCO began with the deployment of an additional 3,000 combat-ready soldiers to support the U.S.-NATO war. 

The highest stage of capitalism

Many of the contingency operations mentioned above relied on “joint logistics-over-the-shore” capabilities, which “include everything from command and control to seaport operations, Army watercraft operations and controlling a harbor.” (jble.af.mil)

“JLOTS operations have been a part of the U.S. military’s strategy since its inception and were used in theaters such as Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Iraq.” The modular causeway system is just the latest JLOTS technology and Gaza is just U.S. imperialism’s latest genocide. (army.mil, Dec. 20,2020)

While U.S. military personnel have completed construction and began to deploy assets, the Pentagon confirmed control of the landing zone ultimately be turned over to the Israeli military.

“You’ll start to see construction of the causeway,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in April. “Eventually, that causeway will be, you know, pushed into the coastline and secured by the IDF.” (ndtahq.com, April 30)

Based on intelligence published by the Palestinian resistance about the weapons systems being offloaded and the demonstrable evidence that the floating port is designed as a combat-landing technology, it does not come as much of a shock that the U.S. has used it to deliver zero aid parcels to Gaza.

But the U.S.-Israeli goal to eradicate Palestine and all Palestinians who live there is financially and strategically motivated as much as it is driven by murderous racism. Imperialism is a phase of capitalist development, emerging when the ruling class has consolidated its dominion over all domestic industries and markets and thus must wage war on the rest of the world. 

Under the rubble and carnage in Gaza is a land that is capable of great beauty and abundance — as all Palestinians know. Billionaires and bankers around the world are hell-bent on exploiting those natural riches and the Palestinian resistance has so far foiled their every effort.

As Workers World reported last November: “In 1999, British Gas (BG) discovered the existence of natural gas in the Gaza Marine fields, 20 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza, at a depth of 610 meters below the surface. Further exploration by BG through two successful wells — Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2 — determined the field could contain up to 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.” Control of these resources is part of the U.S.-Israeli “end game.” (workers.org/2023/11/74864/)

Yemeni resistance controlling Red Sea

Another clear aim for the U.S. and Israel is to bypass the Red Sea, over which the Yemeni resistance has established an effective blockade to all Israel-bound ships. Since Ansarallah secured control of the Red Sea, the number of trade vessels passing through the Suez Canal have dropped by 40%. The world’s largest shipping companies are now avoiding the Red Sea entirely and instead taking the much longer and costlier route around the Cape of Good Hope, past South Africa. 

This means a much costlier war for global capitalism, which is already estimated to cost at least 10% of Israel’s GDP — $50 billion — before the end of the year. The amount of money the ruling class must invest will be far higher, considering that 12% of the world’s oil and natural gas shipments used to pass through the Red Sea. Since the Resistance took control of commercial choke points, vessels carrying an estimated 2.5 million barrels of oil per day must now find another way to their destinations. (eia.gov, Dec. 4, 2023)

A U.S.-Israeli controlled port in Gaza would mean the Red Sea channels could be bypassed by sea and over land. However, the imperialist powers’ assumption that they have safe passage through the Mediterranean Sea may prove mistaken. 

During his May 23 remarks, Al-Houthi also announced Ansarallah’s missile and drone strikes on attempted blockade runners in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and that “one of our military operations during this week was carried out towards the Mediterranean Sea.” (newsweek.com, May 23)

These strikes represent the “fourth stage of escalation” announced by Ansarallah military spokesperson Yahya Sare’e earlier this month. “[Yemen] will target all ships headed to Israeli ports in any area we reach regardless of their nationality and destination.” (Palestine Chronicle, May 3)

Despite whatever benevolent motives are proffered by for-profit media, the U.S. floating pier in Gaza is not about humanitarian aid, nor has any aid been delivered. And the Palestinian resistance is under no illusions to the contrary.

“Palestinian resistance is capable of hitting the base, but it will also be a sitting duck for other regional resistance groups,” said Palestinian journalist Wesam Bahrani. 

“The evidence on the ground suggests this U.S. military base, when constructed, may not survive for too long. While the United States may be capable of building a military base off the Gaza shore, the Axis of Resistance is also capable of sinking it.” (press.ir, March 20)

Teddie Kelly

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Teddie Kelly

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