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Author: Subject: Iran and it's Policies and Machinations
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[*] posted on 15-6-2019 at 06:29 PM


The Strategic Threat from Iranian Hybrid Warfare in the Gulf

(Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies; issued June 13, 2019)

The threat of war with Iran may seem distant to many in United States and Europe, but its strategic implications became all too clear only hours after two freshly loaded tankers – the Frontline and the Kokuka Courageous – were attacked in the Gulf of Oman on June 12, 2019 – just outside the "Persian" or "Arab" Gulf. These attacks came less than a month after four previous attacks on tankers near a port in the UAE, and after months of rising tensions over Iran's nuclear programs, the war in Yemen, and the growing arms race in the region.

The fear of further attacks, and interruption in the continued export of petroleum sudden raised the global price of crude oil by 4% – a global price rise that everyone in the world must pay – including Americans – regardless of the fact the U.S. is no longer a major petroleum importer.

The reasons why such incidents can lead to immediate price rises, as well as growing concerns over far more serious patterns of conflict are simple. First, the military confrontation between Iran, the U.S., and the Arab Gulf states over everything from the JCPOA to Yemen can easily escalate to hybrid warfare that has far more serious forms of attack. And second, such attacks can impact critical aspects of the flow of energy to key industrial states and exporters that shape the success of the global economy as well as the economy of the U.S.

The Threat of Hybrid Warfare

Iran can use its naval, air, and/or missile forces and proxies to attack ships anywhere in the Gulf, around the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Oman outside the Gulf, and in Indian Ocean waters near the Strait of Hormuz. It has long threatened to "close the Gulf" at the Strait of Hormuz, but its military exercises involve dispersing its naval of Revolutionary Guard forces broadly in the Gulf and near it.

Iran also does not have to launch a major war. It can conduct sporadic, low-level attacks that do not necessarily provoke a major U.S. or Arab reaction, but create sudden risk premiums in petroleum prices and the equivalent of a war of attrition. Tankers are inherently vulnerable to relatively small anti-ship missiles and UCAVs, and attacks by submersibles and radio-controlled small craft filled with high explosives. Iran can plant "smart" mines in the bottom of tanker routes that can detect large tankers and home in on them, and be set to arm at widely space intervals.

These methods of "hybrid" attack can be carried by individual ships and dhows that are not part of Iran's armed forces, that do not have Iranian flags or operators wearing Iranian uniforms, and that cannot be directly tied to actions by the Iranian government. They can be operated by proxies like the Houthis or "false flag" groups made up for the occasion, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) have established a growing presence in the Gulf of Oman based at Chabahar – to "prevent smuggling" – and in the Gulf of Aden and near Yemen to "deal with Somali pirates."

Its growing role in the Gulf of Oman includes basing for its Kilo submarines to reduce U.S. ability to track and cover their movements, and IHS Janes reports that Iran plans to establish three new bases on its Makran Coast on in the Gulf of Oman – one of which at near Pasabandar (close to the Pakistani border) was completed in February 2017.

At the same time, outside extremist groups like ISIS can also carry out such attacks – potentially dragging Iran, the U.S., and Arab states into some form of clash or war. No one cans safely assume that Iran is the cause in the absence of reliable intelligence or evidence. Even "implausible" Iranian denial can limit the military response of other states, particularly since virtually any such response risks triggering a far more serious conflict and an even more serious reduction in the flow of Gulf oil. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full analysis (4 PDF pages),on the CSIS website.

https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/1...


-ends-
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[*] posted on 17-6-2019 at 09:46 AM


Some credulous morons in the media are claiming it was an Israeli false flag operation, despite the US having video of an Iranian patrol boat retrieving a defective limpet mine from one of the damaged freighters under cover of night. :crazy:



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[*] posted on 20-6-2019 at 05:04 PM


Iran shoots down American drone in international airspace, US official confirms

By luis Martinez

Jun 20, 2019, 2:27 AM ET


U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Bob Brown

In a major provocation, Iran shot down an unarmed and unmanned U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton drone while it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz Thursday, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The incident is sure to trigger serious discussions within the Trump administration about how to respond to a direct attack on a U.S. military asset that goes beyond recent attacks in the Middle East that the U.S. has blamed on Iran.

The U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile while the reconnaissance drone was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, a U.S. official told ABC News.

Earlier, Iranian state media had quoted Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as saying it had downed a Global Hawk drone when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district north of the Strait of Hormuz.

The MQ-4C Triton is an unarmed surveillance aircraft powered by a jet engine, which is capable of operating at altitudes as high as 60,000 feet. It is the Navy's version of the reconnaissance aircraft that the Air Force calls the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

The incident is not the first time in recent days that Iran has targeted an American drone off its coast.

Last Thursday, Iran attempted to shoot down an MQ-9 Reaper that was surveilling the attack on one of two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The United States has blamed Iran for being responsible for the attacks on the two tankers -- a claim Iran has denied.

"According to our assessment, a modified Iranian SA-7 surface-to-air missile attempted to shoot down a U.S. MQ-9, at 6:45 a.m. local time, June 13, over the Gulf of Oman, to disrupt surveillance of the IRGC attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous," CENTCOM spokesperson Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement to ABC News on Saturday.

"Subsequent analysis indicates that this was a likely attempt to shoot down or otherwise disrupt the MQ-9 surveillance of the IRGC attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous," Brown said.

In early May, the Pentagon rushed the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a B-52 bomber task force to the Middle East to deter possible attacks by Iran or Iranian-backed groups on U.S. forces and U.S. interests in the region.
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[*] posted on 20-6-2019 at 08:33 PM


How low was it flying for a bloody SA-7 to hit it?

Get them the f*ck up where they belong, up above the ‘trash’ fire!





In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 20-6-2019 at 09:55 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ADMK2  
How low was it flying for a bloody SA-7 to hit it?

Get them the f*ck up where they belong, up above the ‘trash’ fire!



I think the SA-7 was in reference to the MQ-9 and probably reasonable for an aircraft at medium altitude, moderate speed and predictable course (like a 1950s target drone really).

As to the Triton, whatever they used, we are probably lucky they didn't bring down one of the dozens of Emirates and Etihad flights transiting and waypointing that area.
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[*] posted on 20-6-2019 at 10:06 PM


Quote: Originally posted by DEW  
Quote: Originally posted by ADMK2  
How low was it flying for a bloody SA-7 to hit it?

Get them the f*ck up where they belong, up above the ‘trash’ fire!



I think the SA-7 was in reference to the MQ-9 and probably reasonable for an aircraft at medium altitude, moderate speed and predictable course (like a 1950s target drone really).

As to the Triton, whatever they used, we are probably lucky they didn't bring down one of the dozens of Emirates and Etihad flights transiting and waypointing that area.


An SA-7 is a MANPAD and maxes out at about 6500 feet...

It doesn’t get anywhere near medium altitudes...




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 21-6-2019 at 08:49 AM


Quote: Originally posted by ADMK2  

An SA-7 is a MANPAD and maxes out at about 6500 feet...

It doesn’t get anywhere near medium altitudes...


Perhaps (re the MQ-9) that's why it was referred to as a "modified" SA-7.

Further on the Triton:

Reported as brought down by a Khordad missile system, so up to about 75,000ft.

U.S. Central Command
“A U.S. Navy RQ-4 was flying over the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz on a surveillance mission in international airspace in the vicinity of recent IRGC maritime attacks when it was shot down by an IRGC surface to air missile fired from a location in the vicinity of Goruk, Iran.

This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time during its mission.
This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce.

Iranian reports that this aircraft was shot down over Iran are categorically false.

The aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz and fell into international waters.

At the time of the intercept, the RQ-4 was operating at high-altitude approximately 34 kilometers from the nearest point of land on the Iranian coast.

This dangerous and escalatory attack was irresponsible and occurred in the vicinity of established air corridors between Dubai, UAE, and Muscat Oman, possibly endangering innocent civilians.” :(
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[*] posted on 22-6-2019 at 01:52 PM


Global Hawk shootdown validates Iran’s indigenous SAM capabilities

Jeremy Binnie, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

21 June 2019


A 3 Khordad system is seen during a February 2017 air defence exercise. Source: Iran Military Tube

Key Points

- The US has confirmed Iran's claim it shot down a Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at a range of about 70 km
- Iran credited a 3 Khordad, one of several new indigenous surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, with the shootdown

The shooting down of a US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle on 20 June appears to have confirmed that Iran has developed highly capable surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems in recent years.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced the incident, saying the Global Hawk was shot down near Kuh Mubarak on Iran's Gulf of Oman coast after it entered Iranian territory without identifying itself. It released a video purportedly showing the engagement, with a 3 Khordad self-propelled SAM system launching a missile at night.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted co-ordinates for the location of the UAV when it was shot down that put it inside Iranian territorial airspace over the Gulf of Oman.

The US military's Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed Iran shot down an RQ-4A but stressed that the UAV never entered Iranian airspace. It supported this assertion by releasing an image apparently taken by the UAV of the incoming missile that showed it was located in international airspace at an altitude of 22,209 ft (6,769 m) over the Gulf of Oman immediately before it was hit.

A map released by CENTCOM provided the approximate location of the SAM launch on the Iranian coast some 70 km away.
There are no fixed SAM sites within range of the shootdown location, lending credence to the claim that a mobile system like the 3 Khordad was used in the engagement.

(297 of 577 words)
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[*] posted on 22-6-2019 at 04:54 PM


How the Pentagon Nickel-and-Dimed Its Way Into Losing a Drone (excerpt)

(Source: Defense One; posted June 20, 2019)


Like the U-2 spy plane, Global Hawk is designed to fly at high altitude, beyond the range of air-defense missiles, but like the U-2 it was shot down, according to Iran by a an Iranian-made Khordad-3 air defense system. (Twitter photo)

Wednesday’s downing of a U.S. drone by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard exposes a weakness in U.S. operations. The United States has some of the world’s most sophisticated drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. But they were designed for past wars, for use against insurgent forces such as ISIS or the Taliban that cannot track and destroy high-flying aircraft. Iran and other potential adversaries, by contrast, have radar and missiles that can turn some of the U.S. military’s most important drones into expensive, conspicuous targets.

Officials with U.S. Central Command confirmed Thursday morning that the Iranian military had shot down a BAMS-D RQ-4A Global Hawk, an incredibly sophisticated drone that can carry a suite of sensitive and powerful sensors up to 55,000 feet on missions that can last 24 hours.

At $130 million apiece (or $220 million, including research and development costs), it’s more expensive than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which costs around $90 million apiece these days. Its single turbofan pushes it to speeds around 400 miles per hour on a 131-foot wingspan that affords long dwell times — and is easily spotted on radar.

On Thursday, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps officials declared that they had shot down the drone with an Iranian-made Khordad-3 air defense system. Given the RQ-4’s usual operating altitude, the interceptor missile was likely a TALASH 2B.

A representative from U.S. Central Command declined to confirm the missile type, but did say that Iran did not use its most sophisticated air-defense system, the Russian-made S-300, in the engagement.

In other words, the U.S. military lost one of its most advanced intelligence drones to a mediocre radar and missile. That reflects a lack of suitable next-generation drones to carry out important intelligence and reconnaissance missions against adversaries with actual air defenses. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Defense One website.

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2019/06/how-pentagon-n...

(ends)

U.S. Air Forces Central Command Statement on the Shoot Down of a U.S. RQ-4

(Source: U.S. Air Forces Central Command; issued June 20, 2019)

"A U.S. Navy RQ-4 was flying over the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz on a surveillance mission in international airspace in the vicinity of recent IRGC maritime attacks when it was shot down by an IRGC surface to air missile fired from a location in the vicinity of Goruk, Iran.

“This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time during its mission.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce.

“Iranian reports that this aircraft was shot down over Iran are categorically false. The aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz and fell into international waters.

“At the time of the intercept, the RQ-4 was operating at high-altitude approximately 34 kilometers from the nearest point of land on the Iranian coast.

“This dangerous and escalatory attack was irresponsible and occurred in the vicinity of established air corridors between Dubai, UAE, and Muscat Oman, possibly endangering innocent civilians."

-- Attributable to Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

(ends)

U.S. Central Command Statement: Iranians Shoot Down U.S. Drone

(Source: U.S. Central Command; issued June 20, 2019)

TAMPA, Fla. --- “U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.

“This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.

“The BAMS-D is a RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and provides real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions."

-- Attributable to Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman

-ends-
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[*] posted on 22-6-2019 at 05:04 PM


It was a very odd aircraft to be operating there at all. It was a ‘Frankenstein’ Global Hawk, cobbled together as testbed for the USN BAMS program...

It was not usually an operational aircraft...




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 26-6-2019 at 01:09 PM


Not Even Trump Has Any Idea What His Iran Policy Is

By David A. Graham
The Atlantic

2:36 PM ET


AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The president canceled a strike because it was “not proportionate,” and then vowed “obliteration.”

On Friday, after pulling back a strike on targets in Iran—with 10 minutes to go, by his account—President Donald Trump explained his decision on Twitter, saying that an estimated death toll of 150 was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

On Tuesday, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani offered a rather Trumpian assessment of Trump and his administration, the president tweeted, “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”

So which one is it: proportional responses, or obliteration for any attack? Reading the president’s statements, it’s impossible to know what Trump’s Iran policy is—and it’s clear that Trump doesn’t know either.

Detailed assessments of either approach seem pointless when no policy lasts longer than the life span of a tweet—though as I wrote on Friday, caution was likely wise in the case of the canceled strikes, while threatening obliteration over a juvenile insult mostly comes across as Khrushchevian shoe-banging.

It is tempting to compare this to President Barack Obama’s failed “red line” of chemical-weapons use in Syria, which he did not enforce, but the situations are actually substantially different. Obama laid out a clear policy and then found that he couldn’t enforce it. Trump hasn’t laid out a clear policy in the first place.

According to The Washington Post, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a message to Iraqi leaders, intended to be conveyed to Iran, that the deaths of any Americans would result in an American attack. In his tweets last week, Trump said Iran would never be allowed to get nuclear weapons. In his tweets today, Trump said any attack on “anything American” would draw an attack, although when Iran shot down an American drone, the president ultimately decided not to launch an attack in response, let alone to unleash “obliteration.”

In fairness to Trump, Iran is a foreign-policy puzzle that has confounded multiple American presidents. But Trump has made his own situation more difficult. His ranks of advisers are full of temps, including the secretary of defense. He doesn’t trust the advisers he has, speaking dismissively of National Security Adviser John Bolton in public (“John Bolton is absolutely a hawk.

If it was up to him, he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay?”) and reportedly discarding his advice in private.

Presidents override the judgment of their aides all the time. The problem is that Trump doesn’t appear to possess the knowledge or judgment to formulate a policy independent of their advice, because he never bothered to learn about Iran in the first place.

His policy from the start has been Iran is bad, and Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was bad, and was formed largely from Fox News fulminations. This is fine as far as it goes, which is not very far. Trump’s lack of interest in boning up on the topics he deals with has popped up repeatedly, from health care (from “It’s going to be so easy” to “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated”) to border security to trade policy.

But that ignorance and indecision is nowhere so dangerous as when the nation stands on the brink of a shooting war. It’s impossible for Iran to know what the White House’s view is, raising the chances that it will miscalculate, and set off an escalating conflict. While keeping the Iranians off guard might seem advantageous—Richard Nixon’s “madman theory”—the abortive strike means they may be confused but also less afraid.

Meanwhile, there’s no way for allies to know how to support the U.S. position, which keeps changing. Not even the U.S. military knows what Trump wants.

Shrewd observers have warned for months that when Trump got into a genuine international crisis, he’d face a crisis of credibility: Americans wouldn’t trust his word, allies wouldn’t line up behind him, and adversaries wouldn’t take threats at face value. The confrontation with Iran shows some signs of being just such a crisis, but Trump has largely sidestepped the credibility problem by being totally incoherent. A policy can’t lack credibility if it doesn’t exist in the first place.
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[*] posted on 26-6-2019 at 01:13 PM


We Don’t Need Airstrikes to Restore Deterrence in the Strait of Hormuz

By James Siebens & Charles Meire
Stimson Center

12:02 PM ET


US Navy / Petty Officer 3rd Class Abigayle Lutz

Recent history shows that a restrained, multilateral military response can help restore stability.

Dr. Christopher Bolan argues convincingly that one reason U.S. deterrence is failing in the Strait of Hormuz is that U.S. policymakers are not clearly communicating their demands. The Army War College professor offers ample evidence of the ambiguity surrounding the Trump administration’s policy priorities, and points out that the United States cannot reasonably expect deterrence to succeed if it doesn’t clearly communicate what behaviors will result in punishment.

However, Dr. Bolan and others have argued that the administration should punish Iran’s provocations with kinetic action against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps while signaling the precise cause of the action and the price for continued escalation. This would be a dramatic escalation and serious policy misstep.

Instead of deterring Iran, such action would almost certainly draw a matching escalation, whether in the Strait of Hormuz or elsewhere in the region, pulling the two nations yet closer to outright hostilities. U.S. policymakers should look to recent history to better understand Iran’s tactics as well as craft intermediate policy solutions that avoid war.

Over the past decade, Iran has threatened several times to disrupt traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. After one such threat in 2012, the U.S., Britain, and France sent a joint naval force through the strait while key policymakers conveyed the consequences of further instigation. The U.S. also sent additional fighter jets and naval assets to the region, including mine-clearing vessels and an extra carrier group. Three years later, after Iranian vessels harassed and detained commercial vessels in the Strait, U.S. patrol boats began escorting ships through the passage. And after Iran briefly detained a U.S. naval vessel in the Persian Gulf in 2016, quick, high-level diplomacy avoided armed confrontation. In each of these cases, the United States restored stability to the strait without recourse to violence.

These examples provide practical policy alternatives to the direct application of force. Perhaps the 2015 case offers a model for the most prudent course: placing U.S. military assets close enough to observe and counteract harassment or sabotage.

Further, U.S. officials should attempt to organize a robust multinational mine-clearing operation in the strait – effectively operationalizing the annual International Maritime Exercise or the quarterly Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) alongside a sustained escort mission. The U.S. would be well advised to coordinate its forces with other states that have an interest in maintaining regional commerce. Given the economic importance of the strait, there is no shortage of potential coalition members. Strong candidates include India, Japan, or South Korea, which have close ties to the United States, vested interests in stability, and which collectively consume about 30-40 percent of the oil that flows through the strait. India has already dispatched warships to the region to help ensure the safety of their vessels. Other candidates include major exporters of oil who use the strait: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE.

And France and the UK are already participants in exercises supporting freedom of navigation in the strait.

An international force organized to ensure safe passage for commercial vessels would also create a more capable military tripwire, which would in turn better deter any further sabotage.

Additional mining would have to be done in close proximity to a robust military force. Confrontations or miscalculations could easily result in injury or death to coalition members, raising the stakes for Iran. The additional forces in the region would also allow for more effective detection and monitoring of any bad behavior, thus reducing the ambiguity of further attacks and setting a clearer red line. Together these factors would force Iran to anticipate a kinetic response by the United States, backed by an international coalition, raising the cost of provocation. Given Iran’s hesitance to risk direct armed confrontation with U.S. forces in the strait, informed by their past experience with the U.S. Navy, such a display of force and international unity would likely be enough to reestablish deterrence. This policy option can place the onus for escalation squarely on Iran, depriving them of their ability to harass shipping, deterring them from militarily retaliation against sanctions enforcement, and reassuring allies and global markets of the stability of the strait.

Despite Iranian leaders’ wariness of direct confrontations with the U.S. military, recent events demonstrate their willingness to use coercion to press for sanctions relief and to take direct military action when they feel their territory is threatened.

Given the Strait of Hormuz’s critical role in the global economy, U.S. policymakers would be wise to exercise restraint and maximize the chances of de-escalation and stability, rather than war.
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