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13 April 2006


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Worst case looks pretty bad for us. A major quagmire with terrible loss of life and limbs of our kids. I hope our leaders ponder it. What does a realistic best case look like? And for those of us not schooled in the art of war - what is a manpad?

Where in the spectrum of competence and motivation do the Iranian land forces fall into? Chinese or Eastern European or Indian/Pakistani or African or pre/post-Gulf War I Iraqi?

tim fong

What's your take on the recent surge of generals calling for Rumsfeld to step down or be replaced?


So does this scenario lend credence to the rumors of a pullback to major bases and/or a reduction in coalition troop strength for political reasons by late summer?

Doing so wouldn't solve the problem, but it might uncomplicate some it by forcing opponents to mass against fortified positions and so risk exposure to air attacks. It wouldn't necessarily tip the U.S. hand, and attacking in the third trimester vs. now wouldn't materially affect the overall outcome vs. the Iranian nuke program.

Sorry if the foregoing sounds unbearably naive. I'm just trying to mitigate going to bed locked into an image of "The Battlin' Bastards of Bataan" redux, desert-style.

W. Patrick Lang


A MANPAD is a "Man Poratable Air Defense" whatever, normally a heat srrking missile. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Iran is not a problem to be solved. Iran is a pricky state that must be managed.

Iran is not a threat to the United States. Iran is a threat to the strategies that US is pursuing in the Middle East for the better or for worse.

Also, please take a look at "Common Sense on Iran"
by Stirling Newberry @ http://www.bopnews.com/archives/006258.html#6258



That is just grim. I'm hoping this is not an in Iraq, on the ground assestment, because if I was over there now, and I'm watching the chickenhawks get all puffed up about Iran, and I'm reading how bad it could get according to the Intel guys, then I'm starting to get just a little worried and just a little bit pissed off.


Mac Nayeri

"I thank him for it spares me the necessity of posting my own worst case."

Are u endorsing this version of events?

The author flatters the military prowess of Iran - it reads as if written by a bright-eyed, comic book collecting, adolescent Iranian teenager.

I think the expression is "let's keep it real."



That worst is only Iraq. What is missing is the scenario for the Marines who will have to seize the Iranian oil fields in Korramshahr.

There is also this critical sea route that needs to be kept open and this stupid fluid we use to run our cars on. It tends to get more expensive when it gets scarse.

No wonder the Generals are in mutiny.


Not quite Indian Mutiny. Sounds more like Kabul in 1841.


PS: Saddam Hussein as Dost Mohammed II?

Norbert Schulz

Seizure of the oilfields in Korramshahr has the political cost of seriously undermining the U.S. claim that oil played no role in threir schemes for the Middle East. Seizure of oilfields in Iraq, and now in Iran, too? That'd be water on Bin Laden's mills, a boon for enemy propaganda.

Mac Nayeri, as for keeping it real. I guess that Iran is no match for the U.S. in a 'fair' fight. But sadly there is no such thing. Just as the U.S. like to play out their tech advantage and butcher from afar or at night, the Iranians will try to avoid just this sort of 'fairness'.
Their intelligence is no amateur outfit, and they are also no amateurs in light infantry combat. They have gathered an impressive amount of expertise in both fields in Lebanon, and can be counted on to have their lessons learned from the wars with and on Iraq.

Iran has shown in the first gulf war that they are willing to make at times massive sacrifices. The people in power today fought then, and remember the time. When they can beat a U.S. army of 150.000 by sacrificing 500.000, 600.000 Iraqis and Iranians, they might find it worth the cost.

W. Patrick Lang


I am saying that I would have written a somewhat different but also depressing version.

I agree that the Iranian forces could not do this much damage against US forces which are well supplied but his scenario posits the opposite.

My pessimism focuses more on a general rising of the Shia population that attacks our logistics.

Erasmus' analysis posits a certain universe and comments on what would happen in that universe. That is normal procedure for both case studies of possible intelligence scenarios and for contingency planning. pl


OK guys - I'm the dumbest guy lurking on this page but I can read a map. Say we "pop" Iran (high tech zoomie stuff). They go after us IAW the worst case scenario BUT what about our allies in the area. The CIA World Factbook shows the following bordering countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km. While we are tied up (12 divisions fighting a 15 division war) how could we assist Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, and any other allies who assist us with logistical and combat support should the nasties decide that we are preoccupied and strike?

Just a thought from the lowest common denominator.

W. Patrick Lang


As a logistician, how do you assess the LOC threat? Pat



We don’t have any real allies in the region. Turkey has a large, tough, and well armed army that can handle any likely attacker but we are deeply unpopular with the Turkish people and the generals are furious with us over our Kurdistan policy. No help is likely to be forthcoming. Pakistan has a large and credible military, most of which is tied down on their border with India, and the Pakistanis despise us. Any attempt to assist us by Musharaff would almost certainly result in his prompt overthrow. Afghanistan is full of armed men full of holy zeal to defend their country and they are mostly fighting us. Various rag tag narco warlords who support us are well aware of the fact that Imperial countries like America, Britain, and Russia come and go, but Iran is forever. They will want no part of this. Iran also has many friends in Afghanistan who are not shooting at us now but will be if we attack Iran.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are run by corrupt kleptocracies with weak militaries and a real desire to continue robbing their countries blind. Picking a fight with Iran would be a very bad idea. As for Armenia it is militarily weak and there is a large and prosperous Armenian population in Iran that would be put at risk, it is also a traditional Iranian ally against the Turks. No help there. As for the Iraqis, they’d all be shooting at us except for the Kurds and the Shia Kurds will probably be shooting at us too.
As for us helping them ward off an Iranian strike, the Iranians will be flooding into Iraq and Afghanistan to fight Americans and our puppets with the aid of the many local allies Iran has in both countries. They will have neither the time, assets, nor inclination to go after anyone else


Mac Nayeri,

The Iranians need no special military prowess to accomplish their goals in this scenario. They just need large numbers of reasonably well trained, decently led, light infantry with high morale and the willingness to take very heavy casualties. Based upon their performance in the Iran Iraq war, they have that in spades.


Who cares if the retired generals mutiny? When are the active duty generals going to mutiny?

W. Patrick Lang


The use of the term "mutiny" in referring to the remarks of these retired officers is silly. Mutiny is a rebellon against legal authority. These officers, although still members of the armed forces, are not obliged by law to keep silent once they are no longer on active duty. The same is true of me.

You will not see a mutiny or criticism of the administration from active duty officers. To do so other than before Congress is simply illegal. Read the UCMJ.

In any event you should not want to see that unless you want to see an end to civilian control of the United States. pl


I understand the legal definition of mutiny.

I'm wondering if we will see upper echelon resignations from the Pentagon when some disasterous Iran strategy/policy is put into play by the same people who sent 140,000 U.S. troops to occupy a country of 25 million people.

W. Patrick Lang


I don't know. As you know there is really no precedent for that in American military history. Perhaps there should be. pl


I'm not an expert on U.S. military history, but I suspect there is no precedent for starting two preemptive wars in the same presidency.


I enjoyed reading Erasmus' thoughts.

Thing is, the Iranians and shia only have to accomplish about 20% of what E outlined to create a real mess.

Meanwhile back at the Green Zone they’re down to their last latte and MRE

But you need to work a bit on your culinary analysis, E.

The Last Supper sounds revolting. Maybe James Beard has a book on MREs.

Good analysis.

W. Patrick Lang


An interesting point. It would be possible to look at all the various expeditions carried out in Latin America and other places by the Wilson administration. pl


That's pretty comprehensive.

The Iranians have been building up assets in the South since the Iran-Iraq war, they've had 20 years to figure out how to stage a Shi'a rising and the breadth and depth of their intelligence network in Iraq could be a decisive factor and they are masters of asymmetric war.

It didn't help when the Shi'a rose in 92; Saddam applied the required Syrian solution, that's the way the Brit's quashed the Indian Mutiny, after years of war-lite I doubt we'd have the stomach for it.

I also doubt Iran would seek to eject the US totally. A vengeful US with it's full land army available would be far more dangerous to the Mullahs; they have the prize fish hooked they'll play it to exhaustion rather than reel it in. The Persians are a subtle people, raising the temperature a few degrees in the South would cause us trouble enough. Ideological indoctrination, command and control, training arms, these boys have read their Mao and won't jump the gun like Giap. As we seek to secure our threatened supply lines with firepower Iranian backed forces would gain legitimacy just as Hezbollah did in Lebanon. Our desperation would ensure the Pasdaran are greeted with flowers as liberators rather than what they are: the brutal old blood enemy opportunistically pocketing the Basra mega-oilfield.

Given the dire political situation though it may not be the Iranians that take the initiative. As the ethnic carnage deepens we look set to betray all the hopes of democratically attained dominance we kindled in the Shi'a majority. Push them too hard and they may choose secession and rise as they did against the Brits in the 20s and we don't have 100,000 hard bitten Sepoys to send against them.


Did the Wilson administration commit these kinds of troop levels?

On the futility scale, the current thinking in our Defense Dept. reminds me more of the people who brought us Gallipoli.

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