Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bruce O. Riedel at The Iran Primer doesn't comprehend Iran's view of military status

by Mark Pyruz

Over at The Iran Primer Bruce O. Riedel provides a perspective titled Iran's Worsening Military Status. In it, Mr. Riedel maintains a belief that "Iran's military leaders, both in the regular military and the Revolutionary Guards, cannot be pleased with trends in the regional military balance." His assumption is based on a balance sheet of forces favoring numbers of the latest and most expensive conventional weapons systems. Recently, how many times has this proven illusory? Rest assured, the Iranians have taken notice of such.

Riedel asserts that America "mishandled" the military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, opening the door for Iranian "interference". Here we have something of a contradiction. For the US possessed perhaps the most lopsided advantage in sophisticated and immensely powerful military forces, yet full-time insurgent forces never more than a few thousand strong and fielding only the bare essentials of small arms, rockets and explosives have managed--to date--to inflict over 30,000 casualties on this American fighting force. Don't think for a second this hasn't been lost on the Iranians.

Riedel believes that the developing militaries of Iraq and Afghanistan are reducing Iran's "room for maneuver". Left unsaid is Iran's intervention by elements of its military leadership (IRGC/Quds) that brokered the deal between the Iraqi Army and the Shia militias in 2008, which factually contradicts the supposedly triumphant American surge narrative. Perhaps this is the sort of "interference" Riedel is referring to? And to be sure, Iraq's present leadership leans heavily toward the resistance camp confronting Israel, so such a buildup of Iraqi military force can potentially be looked upon opportunistically by the Iranians.

Then there is the issue of the recent arms purchases by Gulf nations and Israel, with Riedel believing the Iranians look towards with dire envy. He couldn't be more wrong. In terms of the Gulf region, for the most part Iran's leadership looks upon these acquisitions as superfluous to already existing advantages. That is to say, they change very little the certain advantages already prevalent in the region, advantages representative of which that did not--in the final analysis--realize the stated goals of the 2006 Lebanon War and the two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Riedel seems to have the mistaken impression that Iran is arms hungry. He doesn't seem to be aware of the fact that Iran has on a number of occasions actually turned down Russian sales pitches for sophisticated weapon types. For example, in the 1990's Russia made a number of unsuccessful sales pitches for sophisticated combat aircraft types such as the MiG-31. Also, there is evidence that the initial Iranian acceptance of the Tor-M1 SAM system involved a level of diplomatic arm twisting. Looked upon from the Iranian perspective, the logic of Iran's defense policy based upon the deterrent value of its indigenously produced weapon types, such as its SSM forces, provide it with its best solution possible based upon its own unique needs.

"Na doost daram." A failed Russian MiG sales pitch in Tehran

Left unsaid in the Riedel piece is Iran's successful military influences in the 2006 Lebanon War (successful strike on the INS Hanit, signal intercepts of the IDF, light infantry tactics, etc.), its top level successes in relations with various Iraqi military forces, the strides made in SSM capability, the application of the Mosaic doctrine and more. On balance, it can be claimed that Iran's military has achieved much as a result of its own hard work and more sensible policies. But for someone like Riedel, the dollars and cents of high-end arms purchases provide the blinkers with which to narrowly focus upon the overall military situation in the region.


Anonymous said...

Well written

Dariush London

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly written Mark, i couldn't agree more. I am amazed by the depth of the strategic thinking displayed by the Iranians. Time and again Iranians have shown a discipline and confidence that have left western observers baffled and reliant on dysfunctional analysis and propaganda for comfort.

Mohammad said...

Military is one of the few areas where Iran really does well and makes very sound decisions. At the strategic level, Iran has some of the best military thinkers in the world.

Anonymous said...

"Na doost daram." ??

Anonymous said...

Iran's large landmass, larely homogenous population and a battle-tested military is indeed formidable, however, the Artesh (regular military) in particular has to be upgraded with modern weapons. The IRIAF needs fifth generation fighters/interceptors and the army needs new MTB (main battle tanks) and NBC (nuclear, biological and Chemical) capable APC's and transports. The navy needs at least 2 dozen more frigates and a dozen Kilo class or similar blue water submarines. The AD systems also need modernization with dense deployment and staggered coverage from point defence to long-range over the horizon BVR.

A large power like Iran, with numerous security threats, including US bases from Afghanistan to Iraq needs to be spend a far great portion of its GDP on defence. Iran should be looking at China, a reliable ally, to provide replacement aircract and joint technology projects like the J-11.

Anyway, all kudos to Iran for building a self-reliant military. A credible nuclear deterrent should also be part of the Iranian defensive doctrine. History has shown that the US and Zionist bullies don't attack strong nations that have a nuclear weapons stockpile and robust delivery systems. North Korea is a good case in point.

Anonymous said...

@Uskowi - Please, would you mind to somewhere mirror in future Youtube videos regarding Iran ?
They are frequently deleted by Youtube under a pretext ("This video has been removed by the user").