Thursday, January 11, 2007

Unanswered questions about Iran

I know I have been harping on the Iran issue lately, but I feel like there are so many unanswered questions about a U.S.-Iranian confrontation. While the media has spent plenty of time looking at issues surrounding the strike itself (see Dr. Jeffrey's great three parter on the subject), I don't think enough attention has been paid to questions about the lead-up and aftermath of such a move.

My thoughts on the lead-up to a strike against Iran are this: Considering how dispersed the Iranian nuclear program is (especially if you include nuclear facilities not related to weapons production, such as the incomplete light water reactors in Bushehr like the Bush administration tends to do), a strike mission could take hours or even days to complete. Given that, wouldn't USCENTAF need to conduct some pretty extensive supression of enemy air defense (SEAD) missions prior to actual strikes on operational objectives?

As for the aftermath, I wonder if the Bush administration has put any thought into how to keep Iranian retaliation from escalating the situation into a regional war? I mean, we could definitely take out their nuclear complex by applying enough force (read: bombs) to it. NAVCENT could probably even suppress Iranian attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz without too much trouble. What is to keep the Iranians from attacking U.S. forces in Iraq and Kuwait? Our troops in Iraq have enough on their plate just holding back a tide of political warfare in the streets of Baghdad, what happens when they are diverted to the Iranian border?

My biggest fear is that planning for operations against Iran will suffer from the same faults has planning for Iraq did, namely 1) an overestimation of the limits of U.S. operational tempo (remember the capture of Jessica Lynch?) and 2) scant attention being paid to what the post-operational environment will look like.

Just a thought. I encourage my handful of readers to contribute their two cents.

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