Iran Defense: New Doctrine, Old Doctrine
As part of the ongoing ‘Blow of Zolfaghar’ operations along Iran’s border regions, Iran test fired 10 Saegheh surface-to-surface missiles in the southeast desert of Iran between Tehran and the Afghanistan border. The Saegheh missiles have a stated range of between about 50 and 150 miles and are not believed to be nuclear-capable.
The maneuvers have been described by Iran as having the purpose of implementing and practicing a “new defensive doctrine.” However, upon closer inspection, very little appears to be ‘new’ and, in fact, looks to be an indigenous implementation of the strategy, tactics and weaponry employed by Hizballah in the latest hot conflict with Israel.
The implementation of the doctrine developed for Hizballah and shepherded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Lebanon was made abundantly clear when Iranian Army commander Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi said of the maneuvers, “The enemy has gone insane because of the capabilities of Lebanon’s Hizballah. And given the insane enemy’s history, we should always be prepared.” Clearly, however, it is Iran’s Hizballah, not Lebanon’s.
Ironically, Iranian Army spokesman General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said last week, “We have to be prepared against any threat and we should be a role model for other countries.” But Hizballah has been the role model, albeit through Iranian doctrine, training, funding and weapons supplies.
Most lethal for the IDF in Lebanon was Hizballah’s supply of AT-14 Kornet anti-tank missiles capable of defeating the Merkavas’ Active Armor through a double-explosive timed warhead. But also effective against IDF ground forces were elaborate tunnel systems used for hiding and moving men and weapons, body armor, night vision goggles and night vision cameras placed at observation posts, top-notch encrypted communications gear, and computer-equipped command bunkers among other assorted tools of the trade normally associated with a state army, including the immense stores of various Iranian/Syrian rockets and missiles – including the C-802 anti-ship missile and UAV’s.
The overall employment of these assets – along with intensely motivated terrorist foot soldiers and blended IRGC ‘human resources’ – took the form of swarming ambushes on IDF units on ground that Hizballah was intimately familiar with and had prepared – with Iran - well in advance and over the course of six years since the Israeli pullout of 2000.
The difference between the indigenous Iranian implementation of the Hizballah experiment is that the Saegheh surface-to-surface missiles tested this weekend would be employed against advancing troops invading Iranian territory rather than rained down on civilian population centers. But, Iran has more than enough in its arsenal to take that task on simultaneously as well.
The extent to which Iran intends to take on any new defensive posture now may be indicated by the words of Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, who condemned Israel in more ways than one when he said, “It has now been proved more than ever that the existence of the Zionist regime in this region is the root cause of tensions and crises in the Middle-East.” He went on, adding, “The events that took place in Lebanon mark the count down for the Zionist regime’s collapse.”
The significance of his reference to the very “existence” of Israel – as opposed to Israel’s actions or perceived belligerence - should not be dismissed. Iran’s ‘Blow of Zolfaghar’ operation conveniently puts the lion’s share of forces on her east and west borders in a ready-made defense.
It is not beyond plausibility that Iran may be preparing not a ‘new defensive doctrine,’ but rather a perimeter defense at the ready for the next round of fighting between Iran’s Hizballah foreign legion and Israel in conjunction with their expected defiance of UN Security Council demands that they cease their uranium enrichment program.