Iran and the Gulf Military Balance I: The Conventional and Asymmetric Dimensions
Working DraftBy Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander WilnerMar 6, 2012
The Burke Chair at CSIS has greatly updated and expanded its analysis of Iranian military forces to reflect recent events, as well as comments on the previous draft. The first part of this analysis is entitled “Iran and the Gulf Military Balance I: The Conventional and Asymmetric Dimensions.” It is available on the CSIS web site at: http://csis.org/files/publication/120221_Iran_Gulf_MilBal_ConvAsym.pdf.
The contents of the analysis are as follows:
Current Patterns in the Structure of US and Iranian Military Competition
Differing National Perspectives
Arab and Turkish Perceptions
Perceptions of the “War of Sanctions”
Key Uncertainties in Assessing the Details of US and Iranian Military Competition
Uncertainties Affecting Nuclear and Missile Programs
Uncertainties Affecting Regime Stability and Regime Change
Uncertainties Affecting the View of Different National Officials, Military Officers, and Intelligence Experts
Competition in Conventional Military Forces
The Trends in the Conventional Balance
The Limits to Iran’s Air Power
The Uncertainties Affecting Iran’s Air Capabilities
Iran’s Problems in a Significant Air War
Iranian Claims to Air Modernization and Combat Capability
The US, the Southern Gulf Problem, and Iran’s Capability for Air Combat
Ground-Based Air Defenses
The Limits to Iran’s Surface-Based Air Defenses
The Struggle to Modernize Iran’s Surface to Air Missile Defenses
The US, the Southern Gulf Problem and Iran’s Capability for Land-based Air Defense
The Southern Gulf Problem and Surface-toAir Missile Defense
Iran’s Largely Defensive Land Forces
Strengths and Weaknesses in Iran’s Army
Iran’s Ability to Defend Its Teritory and Project Land Power
Iran’s Naval Forces and Their Role in Asymmetric Warfare
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Iran’s Naval Forces
Iran Officers and Officials on Iran’s Naval Posture in the Gulf
The US, the Southern Gulf, and Iran’s Capability for Naval Combat
Measuring the Overall Balance of US and Iranian Military Competition
The Wild Card in the Conventional Balance: A Weak Iraq
Competition in Asymmetric Forces
Iran’s Growing Asymmetric Forces
Conventional Weakness vs Asymmetric Capability
Iran’s Growing Mix of Asymmetric Warfare Forces
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)
IRGC Land Forces
The IRGC Air Force
The IRGC Naval Forces
The Al Qods Force
“Closing the Gulf:” Iran’s Real World Military Options for Asymmetric Warfare
The Potential Strategic, Energy, and Global Economic Impacts of the Iranian Threat
Iran’s Growing Military Assets for Such a Mission
Iran’s Submarines and Submersibles
Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs)
Iran’s Bases and Other Assets for “Closing the Gulf”
Iranian Military Installations in the Gulf
Major Surface Warships
Fast-attack Watercraft, Speedboats, Patrol Craft, and Hovercraft
Shore and Ship-based ASCMs
Maritime Patrol Aircraft
UCAVs and UAVs
Other Asymmetric Forces
US and Arab Gulf Options for Competing with Iranian
US Forces in the Gulf
The US Partnership With Southern Gulf, Other Regional, British, and French forces
Implications for US Policy
The second volume of this analysis is entitled Iran and the Gulf Military Balance II: The Missile and Nuclear Dimensions. It is available on the CSIS web site at:
Both reports are working drafts of chapters in a comprehensive survey of US and Iranian competition made possible through the funding of the Smith Richardson Foundation, and which are to be published as an electronic book in early March. Comments and suggestions would be most helpful. They should be sent to Anthony H. Cordesman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other draft chapters and reports in this series include:
- Types and Levels of Competition - This chapter looks at the various arenas in which Iran and the U.S. compete for influence.
- Iran and the Gulf Military Balance - This chapter looks at Iran’s Military forces in detail, and the balance of forces in the Gulf Region.
- Iran and the Gulf Military Balance II – This chapter looks at Iran’s Missile and Nuclear forces.
- U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Sanctions game: Energy, Arms Control, and Regime Change - This chapter examines the impact of sanctions on the Iranian regime, Iran’s energy sector, and the prospects for regime change in Tehran.
- US and Iranian Strategic Competition in the Gulf States and Yemen - This chapter examines the competition between the US, and Iran and how it affects Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman and Qatar.
- The Outcome of Invasion: US and Iranian Strategic Competition in Iraq - This chapter examines in detail the role Iran has played in Iraq since 2003, and how the US has tried to counter it.
- U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Proxy Cold War in the Levant, Egypt and Jordan - This chapter examines US and Iranian interests in the Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Syria. The military balance is also analyzed.
- The United States and Iran: Competition involving Turkey and the South Caucasus - This chapter analyzes the US and Iranian competition over influence in Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
- Competition in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Pakistan - This chapter examines the important role Iran plays in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, and how the US and Iranian rivalry affects Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
- U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Impact of China and Russia - This chapter examines the complex and evolving relationships between China, Russia, Iran and the US.
- U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: Competition Involving the EU, EU3, and non-EU European States - This chapter looks at the role the EU, and in particular the EU3, have played as the U.S.’s closest allies in its competition with Iran.
- U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: Peripheral Competition Involving Latin America and Africa - This chapter examines the extent and importance of the competition between the US and Iran in the rest of the world.
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