Thursday, February 08, 2007

BRING IT ON SEZ THE IRANIAN: On getting what you wish for

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow estimates it's a simple coin toss to determine whether or not the United States stumbles into a war with Iran. It's heads we win, tails they lose.

Perhaps it's not that bad, as a WAG, wild-assed guess -- a 50/50 chance of action.

From today's New York Times one reads of one of Iran's leaders giving a pep talk to his troops.
“Our enemies know very well that any aggression will have a response from all sides by Iranian people on their interests all over the world,” said [Mr. Ali Khamenei] in a meeting with air force commanders, according to the ISNA student news agency.

“Iranian people should not get scared of such issues . . . ” -- meaning being bombed mercilessly by the United States.

"The country’s Revolutionary Guards said today that they had tested a new land-to-sea missile that could sink big warships," reported the newspaper.

“These missiles, with a maximum range of 350 kilometers, can hit different kinds of big warships in all of the Persian Gulf, all of the Sea of Oman and the north of the Indian Ocean...”

Translated: We'll try to sink your supercarriers.

However, this contingency has been gamed rather thoroughly in Operation Radiating Rubble.

In that simulation, one in which the United States Air Force and two supercarrier battle groups launch an assault on Iran's southern military district, it is very hard for the Iranian military to touch a supercarrier. Gamed over a dozen times, the Iranian navy and air force were almost never able to get close to decisive action with a USN battle group. In one instance, one hit was achieved, one that did not hinder operations siginificantly.

History and the boilerplate statistics of military technology are not in the Iranian military's favor.

However, Operation Radiating Rubble was simply an abstraction, not real. And reality has a way of surprising you. They could do better. Or they could do even worse than was gamed, which was pretty bad.

The Iranian military is forced to fight a battle-experienced force far superior in capability and it will have to do it at night. It has no experience in this kind of war, one it will have to fight when facing the USAF and USN.

Those parts of the Iranian military operating forward toward American units disappear almost immediately. The USAF and carrier-based aviation inexorably destroys the Iranian air force and extends a free fire zone over the country.

The Los Angeles Times also ran a frontpage piece raising the idea that many people in Iran may be dismayed by the prospect of war with the United States.

Unfortunately, implies the newspaper, they are not in a position to do anything about it, sort of like Americans with respect to George W. Bush's escalation in Iraq.

"Many in Iran are aghast at the idea that a nation that spent eight years at war with neighboring Iraq could be in for another conflict," reported the newspaper.

"Iranians are working and they are trying to have better education for their sons and daughters and all that will be destroyed with one strike."

But it goes without saying that for every statement like this, the newspaper balances it with another from the opposite side, making the arguments a cancellation, just as in the United States.

" . . . we can make the Persian Gulf the tomb of the United States of America," said one Iranian politician, according to the newspaper. "They are weak."

Often wars start when the combatants not only don't understand each other but also hold each other in mutual contempt. They then work independently to figure out a way to get what they want, at which point things start blowing up.

See The Bedford Incident.

Richard Widmark as USN destroyer captain: If he fires one, I'll fire one."

Weapons officer on tense bridge: "Fire one!" And the ASROC missile flies hot and true but not before the targeted Russian sub gets one off.


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