Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Iranian Military Plans

I am very busy this week, but here are some first impressions of something very, very interesting.
Kenneth Timmerman has published, at News, details about plans of the Iranian Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) to close the Straits of Hormuz, in the event of US/Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. (Hat tip, Doctor Zin at Regime Change Iran). According to the article, News Max has received portions of a thirty page plan (sounds like an executive summary), drawn up by the Strategic Studies Center of the Iranian Navy, (in Farsi, the acronym is NDAJA), apparently drafted in September or October of last year. Apparently, the source is an Iranian intelligence officer, one Hamid Reza Zakeri, who came west in 2001.
The effort would be run by one consolidated operational headquarters, integrating Pasdaran missile units (equipped with C-801 and C-802 Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles), as well as Shahab-3 and Shahab-4 IRBM’s, mines (including tethered bottom-mines that could sink an aircraft carrier), fast-attack boats equipped with rockets, machine guns and Sagger anti-tank missiles (fine for use on merchantmen and destroyer-sized warships), as well as chemical, biological and nuclear (CBN) weapons. Apparently target lists include Saudi oil production and export centres.
The coordinating headquarters will rely on, among other things, intelligence from surveillance satellites. Whose ? We do have some anti-satellite capability...
An accompanying map apparently identifies “mass kill zones” “where Iranian strategists believe [that] they can decimate a U.S. led invasion force before it actually enters the Persian Gulf.” These run from just east of Bandar Abbas, an Iranian port in the narrows of the Straits of Hormuz, to Shah Bahar, on the Indian Ocean fairly near Pakistan.
The Iranian military seems plenty big and tough -- much better and more effective than it was in the long ago Iran-Iraq War. Institutionally, it seems to have absorbed the lessons of that conflict, as well as the two Gulf Wars, and the US intervention in Kosovo.'s publication Concise World Armies, 2006 rates the Iranian military pretty highly, and says that it has plenty of maneuver and exercise time. The military and Revolutionary Guard are backed up by a very sophisticated intelligence and secret police organization (the Persians have always had good spies) -- descended from the American-trained services of the Shah's days. Iran must not be underestimated.
I will look into this more closely as I have time, but the Iranian military capability shouldn't be over estimated, either. Surely this cannot be all of the plan. The Iranian military has capable staff and intelligence officers. I wonder what threshold the planners are working with: i.e., how far they think they can go ? Sinking aircraft carriers ? Attacking Saudi oil fields ? Leaving their nutty president aside, do the Iranians want to get nuked ? Just how much mayhem can the Iranians get away with in their "mass kill zones" before Uncle Sam starts raining nuclear weapons on them? Yeah, the Iranians can stop the oil, for awhile, but if they really think they can win an air/naval/missile contest, the Iranian staffers are smoking crack... unless that is, Iran has a big power backer.
Do they ?
We are at a very, very dangerous place, just now. If the Iranians are foolish, they will take our President's sinking poll numbers, and our happy UN talk, much too much to heart. They may be fooled into thinking they have a free hand, and assume the edge of acceptable behavior is further away than it is. We are already teetering on the abyss. It is easy to forget how much power a President has over the decision to resort to arms. If the Iranians underestimate this President, there is a strong probability that a lot of people are going to wind up very dead.
Similarly, the Iranians may assume too much tolerance by Israel and its caretaker Prime Minister. The Israelis have been stirring, saying just this week that they will not wait forever for a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
Fundamentally, I am worried by this, apparently, yokel of an Iranian president, who really seems to believe in the imminent appearance of the Twelfth Imam, and talks glibly about wiping countries off the map. Does he know where the red line is; how far the bluster can safely go ? Do those around him ? No question, the present script looks like a war-breeder.


Baron Bodissey said...

Excellent post, Jefe. I gave you a feature & a link here.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Looks somewhat like 1937/38, no?

Irans leader is visionary/delusionary - never too good in the orientation phase of the OODA loop, now he is being fed conflicting signals where the (pacifistic/appeasment/hopeful/optimistic/idealistic/utopian) voices of peace jam out the (realist) ones trying to mark the red lines. And all the time the terror/cartoon/iraq whirlpool is washing away the normalacy and associated perception of stability that stops most men from rocking the boat.

We have been lulled into complacency by decades of stability post WW-II, and assuming the new world order post 9/11 would be therefore stable (as was mistakenly assumed post 1991, eh Mr Fukuyama?). Maybe we mistake that the war on terror for the main game, while it is really just the pre-game warm-up?