If we add to the power equation U.S. air assets both in the Gulf and Iraq as well as its strategic-bomber fleets that can reach Iran from the continental United States, it is difficult to see how Iran could anytime soon seriously challenge the combined power of the United States and its Arab allies in any major military confrontation in the Gulf. No matter what happens in Iraq, the United States military, especially the U.S. fleet, is not going to leave the Gulf anytime soon. It will be decades before any other external power can replace it as custodian of the vital sea-lanes of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The Asian powers, especially China, India, Japan and South Korea, have growing stakes in the economic prosperity of the Gulf and the secure supply of oil and natural gas. They do not want the United States to leave or draw down its naval assets. As the recently retired head of CENTCOM, Admiral William "Fox" Fallon, concluded in an interview with Esquire when asked about war with Iran, "Get serious. These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."