Blogs: The Buzz

How America Would Wage War against Iran

The Buzz

Neutralizing Iran’s ability to degrade the U.S. military’s use of space and cyberspace will almost certainly be another important aspect... Although it is unlikely that Iran’s counter-space capabilities will pose nearly as significant a threat to U.S. satellites as capabilities fielded by the PLA, it will be important to protect the U.S. military’s space architecture—including vulnerable ground stations in the United States and abroad—from possible attacks, including attacks by Iran’s terrorist proxies. Iran could use ground-based jammers to disrupt GPS and space-based and airborne C4ISR, particularly around high-value targets. Since these jammers could affect GPS-guided munitions, their neutralization would be important in winning the network/counter-network competition. Similarly, it should be anticipated that Iran and its proxies will conduct offensive cyber attacks to exploit, disrupt, deny, and degrade networks needed to orchestrate U.S. force deployments and operations. If successful, these attacks could extend Central Command’s operational timelines significantly. Moreover, Iran might attempt to employ cyber strikes to disrupt the control systems or data underpinning U.S. civilian power grids and telecommunications networks. These attacks could come in the form of false information, or they may be direct actions to disrupt or corrupt the flow of information. Thus, computer network defense (CND) operations that are integrated across the U.S. military’s networks may be needed to prevent Iran from using cyberspace as part of a broader strategy to impose costs on the United States.

Washington would further need, according to CSBA, to create pockets of air superiority:

During the opening stages of an air campaign against Iran, it would be important to establish “pockets” of air superiority sufficient to enable operations conducted within range of Iran’s air defenses. This could be a particularly challenging task if the U.S. Air Force lacks sufficient close-in fighter bases and the Navy is unable to operate its carriers within a few hundred miles of Iran. Moreover, future U.S. counter-air operations against an Iranian IADS may not constitute a “rollback” campaign in the traditional sense. Even though it is doubtful that Iran will field an IADS that approaches the sophistication of the PLA’s air defense network in the near-term, it should be assumed that Iran will seek to husband its most capable mobile SAMs so they can be used against U.S. aircraft later in a campaign, in a manner similar to that employed by the Serbian forces during the 1999 Kosovo War. Rather than conduct a determined defense of all potential high-value target areas, Iranian SAM operators could control their radar emissions, frequently change their locations, and use decoys and camouflage to avoid detection and create pop-up “SAM ambushes.” Similarly, Iran may choose to hide some of its fighters in hardened shelters located deep in its interior to prevent their early destruction.

To counter Iran’s “air defense network in being” tactics, the U.S. military could employ stealth platforms that are capable of avoiding detection, and use decoys and electronic warfare systems to spoof and goad enemy SAM operators into activating their radars and thus revealing their locations. DoD’s new Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) would seem to be particularly well-suited for this mission. Even with these capability enhancements, the U.S. military should plan for a sustained effort to suppress air defense threats that may pop-up without warning throughout the course of an air campaign against Iran.

As already noted, the CSBA report is a little dated, but does give us a broad sense of what a U.S. military campaign against Iran would look like, along with possible responses. The size and scale of the campaign would of course be dialed up or down based on the goal. If America was attempting to damage Iran’s nuclear program, one would likely see a massive effort to degrade Tehran’s air defense networks to pave the way for B-2 bombers and other aircraft to drop large amounts of precision-guided and/or “bunker-buster” style weapons.

In the end, no one wants to see Washington and Tehran come to blows, but there is always a certain utility in analyzing what may seem like the unthinkable. Such a conflict would likely take on a global dimension, as Iran would utilize terrorist networks to strike U.S. assets around the world, with America striking back with increasingly lethal weapons of war.

In the end, the question America needs to square itself with is simply this: Can Washington live with an Iran that will become increasingly powerful in the Middle East after a nuclear deal is signed and on paper? If so, then Washington should prepare to compete with Iran across the Middle East while cooperating in areas of shared, mutual interest—just like it already does with China. America can work with allies like Israel, its gulf partners and others in containing Tehran’s growing missile program through expanded missile-defense partnerships, as well as beefing up various aspects of their conventional military capabilities if need be. If competition became especially heated, there are various ways to contain Iranian ambitions without engaging in war. However, if Washington wants to take a much more aggressive path (who knows what a new president in 2016 might do) or if Iran decides to cheat on some aspect of the deal, we are in for a long and bumpy ride in the Middle East for decades to come.

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Are U.S. Fighter Jets About to Become Obsolete?

The Buzz

Neutralizing Iran’s ability to degrade the U.S. military’s use of space and cyberspace will almost certainly be another important aspect... Although it is unlikely that Iran’s counter-space capabilities will pose nearly as significant a threat to U.S. satellites as capabilities fielded by the PLA, it will be important to protect the U.S. military’s space architecture—including vulnerable ground stations in the United States and abroad—from possible attacks, including attacks by Iran’s terrorist proxies. Iran could use ground-based jammers to disrupt GPS and space-based and airborne C4ISR, particularly around high-value targets. Since these jammers could affect GPS-guided munitions, their neutralization would be important in winning the network/counter-network competition. Similarly, it should be anticipated that Iran and its proxies will conduct offensive cyber attacks to exploit, disrupt, deny, and degrade networks needed to orchestrate U.S. force deployments and operations. If successful, these attacks could extend Central Command’s operational timelines significantly. Moreover, Iran might attempt to employ cyber strikes to disrupt the control systems or data underpinning U.S. civilian power grids and telecommunications networks. These attacks could come in the form of false information, or they may be direct actions to disrupt or corrupt the flow of information. Thus, computer network defense (CND) operations that are integrated across the U.S. military’s networks may be needed to prevent Iran from using cyberspace as part of a broader strategy to impose costs on the United States.

Washington would further need, according to CSBA, to create pockets of air superiority:

During the opening stages of an air campaign against Iran, it would be important to establish “pockets” of air superiority sufficient to enable operations conducted within range of Iran’s air defenses. This could be a particularly challenging task if the U.S. Air Force lacks sufficient close-in fighter bases and the Navy is unable to operate its carriers within a few hundred miles of Iran. Moreover, future U.S. counter-air operations against an Iranian IADS may not constitute a “rollback” campaign in the traditional sense. Even though it is doubtful that Iran will field an IADS that approaches the sophistication of the PLA’s air defense network in the near-term, it should be assumed that Iran will seek to husband its most capable mobile SAMs so they can be used against U.S. aircraft later in a campaign, in a manner similar to that employed by the Serbian forces during the 1999 Kosovo War. Rather than conduct a determined defense of all potential high-value target areas, Iranian SAM operators could control their radar emissions, frequently change their locations, and use decoys and camouflage to avoid detection and create pop-up “SAM ambushes.” Similarly, Iran may choose to hide some of its fighters in hardened shelters located deep in its interior to prevent their early destruction.

To counter Iran’s “air defense network in being” tactics, the U.S. military could employ stealth platforms that are capable of avoiding detection, and use decoys and electronic warfare systems to spoof and goad enemy SAM operators into activating their radars and thus revealing their locations. DoD’s new Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) would seem to be particularly well-suited for this mission. Even with these capability enhancements, the U.S. military should plan for a sustained effort to suppress air defense threats that may pop-up without warning throughout the course of an air campaign against Iran.

As already noted, the CSBA report is a little dated, but does give us a broad sense of what a U.S. military campaign against Iran would look like, along with possible responses. The size and scale of the campaign would of course be dialed up or down based on the goal. If America was attempting to damage Iran’s nuclear program, one would likely see a massive effort to degrade Tehran’s air defense networks to pave the way for B-2 bombers and other aircraft to drop large amounts of precision-guided and/or “bunker-buster” style weapons.

In the end, no one wants to see Washington and Tehran come to blows, but there is always a certain utility in analyzing what may seem like the unthinkable. Such a conflict would likely take on a global dimension, as Iran would utilize terrorist networks to strike U.S. assets around the world, with America striking back with increasingly lethal weapons of war.

In the end, the question America needs to square itself with is simply this: Can Washington live with an Iran that will become increasingly powerful in the Middle East after a nuclear deal is signed and on paper? If so, then Washington should prepare to compete with Iran across the Middle East while cooperating in areas of shared, mutual interest—just like it already does with China. America can work with allies like Israel, its gulf partners and others in containing Tehran’s growing missile program through expanded missile-defense partnerships, as well as beefing up various aspects of their conventional military capabilities if need be. If competition became especially heated, there are various ways to contain Iranian ambitions without engaging in war. However, if Washington wants to take a much more aggressive path (who knows what a new president in 2016 might do) or if Iran decides to cheat on some aspect of the deal, we are in for a long and bumpy ride in the Middle East for decades to come.

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Why the Australia-Japan Submarine Deal Needs to Go Through

The Buzz

Neutralizing Iran’s ability to degrade the U.S. military’s use of space and cyberspace will almost certainly be another important aspect... Although it is unlikely that Iran’s counter-space capabilities will pose nearly as significant a threat to U.S. satellites as capabilities fielded by the PLA, it will be important to protect the U.S. military’s space architecture—including vulnerable ground stations in the United States and abroad—from possible attacks, including attacks by Iran’s terrorist proxies. Iran could use ground-based jammers to disrupt GPS and space-based and airborne C4ISR, particularly around high-value targets. Since these jammers could affect GPS-guided munitions, their neutralization would be important in winning the network/counter-network competition. Similarly, it should be anticipated that Iran and its proxies will conduct offensive cyber attacks to exploit, disrupt, deny, and degrade networks needed to orchestrate U.S. force deployments and operations. If successful, these attacks could extend Central Command’s operational timelines significantly. Moreover, Iran might attempt to employ cyber strikes to disrupt the control systems or data underpinning U.S. civilian power grids and telecommunications networks. These attacks could come in the form of false information, or they may be direct actions to disrupt or corrupt the flow of information. Thus, computer network defense (CND) operations that are integrated across the U.S. military’s networks may be needed to prevent Iran from using cyberspace as part of a broader strategy to impose costs on the United States.

Washington would further need, according to CSBA, to create pockets of air superiority:

During the opening stages of an air campaign against Iran, it would be important to establish “pockets” of air superiority sufficient to enable operations conducted within range of Iran’s air defenses. This could be a particularly challenging task if the U.S. Air Force lacks sufficient close-in fighter bases and the Navy is unable to operate its carriers within a few hundred miles of Iran. Moreover, future U.S. counter-air operations against an Iranian IADS may not constitute a “rollback” campaign in the traditional sense. Even though it is doubtful that Iran will field an IADS that approaches the sophistication of the PLA’s air defense network in the near-term, it should be assumed that Iran will seek to husband its most capable mobile SAMs so they can be used against U.S. aircraft later in a campaign, in a manner similar to that employed by the Serbian forces during the 1999 Kosovo War. Rather than conduct a determined defense of all potential high-value target areas, Iranian SAM operators could control their radar emissions, frequently change their locations, and use decoys and camouflage to avoid detection and create pop-up “SAM ambushes.” Similarly, Iran may choose to hide some of its fighters in hardened shelters located deep in its interior to prevent their early destruction.

To counter Iran’s “air defense network in being” tactics, the U.S. military could employ stealth platforms that are capable of avoiding detection, and use decoys and electronic warfare systems to spoof and goad enemy SAM operators into activating their radars and thus revealing their locations. DoD’s new Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) would seem to be particularly well-suited for this mission. Even with these capability enhancements, the U.S. military should plan for a sustained effort to suppress air defense threats that may pop-up without warning throughout the course of an air campaign against Iran.

As already noted, the CSBA report is a little dated, but does give us a broad sense of what a U.S. military campaign against Iran would look like, along with possible responses. The size and scale of the campaign would of course be dialed up or down based on the goal. If America was attempting to damage Iran’s nuclear program, one would likely see a massive effort to degrade Tehran’s air defense networks to pave the way for B-2 bombers and other aircraft to drop large amounts of precision-guided and/or “bunker-buster” style weapons.

In the end, no one wants to see Washington and Tehran come to blows, but there is always a certain utility in analyzing what may seem like the unthinkable. Such a conflict would likely take on a global dimension, as Iran would utilize terrorist networks to strike U.S. assets around the world, with America striking back with increasingly lethal weapons of war.

In the end, the question America needs to square itself with is simply this: Can Washington live with an Iran that will become increasingly powerful in the Middle East after a nuclear deal is signed and on paper? If so, then Washington should prepare to compete with Iran across the Middle East while cooperating in areas of shared, mutual interest—just like it already does with China. America can work with allies like Israel, its gulf partners and others in containing Tehran’s growing missile program through expanded missile-defense partnerships, as well as beefing up various aspects of their conventional military capabilities if need be. If competition became especially heated, there are various ways to contain Iranian ambitions without engaging in war. However, if Washington wants to take a much more aggressive path (who knows what a new president in 2016 might do) or if Iran decides to cheat on some aspect of the deal, we are in for a long and bumpy ride in the Middle East for decades to come.

Pages

US Exposes China’s Growing Maritime Power

The Buzz

Neutralizing Iran’s ability to degrade the U.S. military’s use of space and cyberspace will almost certainly be another important aspect... Although it is unlikely that Iran’s counter-space capabilities will pose nearly as significant a threat to U.S. satellites as capabilities fielded by the PLA, it will be important to protect the U.S. military’s space architecture—including vulnerable ground stations in the United States and abroad—from possible attacks, including attacks by Iran’s terrorist proxies. Iran could use ground-based jammers to disrupt GPS and space-based and airborne C4ISR, particularly around high-value targets. Since these jammers could affect GPS-guided munitions, their neutralization would be important in winning the network/counter-network competition. Similarly, it should be anticipated that Iran and its proxies will conduct offensive cyber attacks to exploit, disrupt, deny, and degrade networks needed to orchestrate U.S. force deployments and operations. If successful, these attacks could extend Central Command’s operational timelines significantly. Moreover, Iran might attempt to employ cyber strikes to disrupt the control systems or data underpinning U.S. civilian power grids and telecommunications networks. These attacks could come in the form of false information, or they may be direct actions to disrupt or corrupt the flow of information. Thus, computer network defense (CND) operations that are integrated across the U.S. military’s networks may be needed to prevent Iran from using cyberspace as part of a broader strategy to impose costs on the United States.

Washington would further need, according to CSBA, to create pockets of air superiority:

During the opening stages of an air campaign against Iran, it would be important to establish “pockets” of air superiority sufficient to enable operations conducted within range of Iran’s air defenses. This could be a particularly challenging task if the U.S. Air Force lacks sufficient close-in fighter bases and the Navy is unable to operate its carriers within a few hundred miles of Iran. Moreover, future U.S. counter-air operations against an Iranian IADS may not constitute a “rollback” campaign in the traditional sense. Even though it is doubtful that Iran will field an IADS that approaches the sophistication of the PLA’s air defense network in the near-term, it should be assumed that Iran will seek to husband its most capable mobile SAMs so they can be used against U.S. aircraft later in a campaign, in a manner similar to that employed by the Serbian forces during the 1999 Kosovo War. Rather than conduct a determined defense of all potential high-value target areas, Iranian SAM operators could control their radar emissions, frequently change their locations, and use decoys and camouflage to avoid detection and create pop-up “SAM ambushes.” Similarly, Iran may choose to hide some of its fighters in hardened shelters located deep in its interior to prevent their early destruction.

To counter Iran’s “air defense network in being” tactics, the U.S. military could employ stealth platforms that are capable of avoiding detection, and use decoys and electronic warfare systems to spoof and goad enemy SAM operators into activating their radars and thus revealing their locations. DoD’s new Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) would seem to be particularly well-suited for this mission. Even with these capability enhancements, the U.S. military should plan for a sustained effort to suppress air defense threats that may pop-up without warning throughout the course of an air campaign against Iran.

As already noted, the CSBA report is a little dated, but does give us a broad sense of what a U.S. military campaign against Iran would look like, along with possible responses. The size and scale of the campaign would of course be dialed up or down based on the goal. If America was attempting to damage Iran’s nuclear program, one would likely see a massive effort to degrade Tehran’s air defense networks to pave the way for B-2 bombers and other aircraft to drop large amounts of precision-guided and/or “bunker-buster” style weapons.

In the end, no one wants to see Washington and Tehran come to blows, but there is always a certain utility in analyzing what may seem like the unthinkable. Such a conflict would likely take on a global dimension, as Iran would utilize terrorist networks to strike U.S. assets around the world, with America striking back with increasingly lethal weapons of war.

In the end, the question America needs to square itself with is simply this: Can Washington live with an Iran that will become increasingly powerful in the Middle East after a nuclear deal is signed and on paper? If so, then Washington should prepare to compete with Iran across the Middle East while cooperating in areas of shared, mutual interest—just like it already does with China. America can work with allies like Israel, its gulf partners and others in containing Tehran’s growing missile program through expanded missile-defense partnerships, as well as beefing up various aspects of their conventional military capabilities if need be. If competition became especially heated, there are various ways to contain Iranian ambitions without engaging in war. However, if Washington wants to take a much more aggressive path (who knows what a new president in 2016 might do) or if Iran decides to cheat on some aspect of the deal, we are in for a long and bumpy ride in the Middle East for decades to come.

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