The mosaic defense plan allows Iran to take advantage of its strategic depth and formidable geography to mount an insurgency against invading forces…. As enemy supply lines stretched into Iran’s interior, they would be vulnerable to interdiction by special stay-behind cells, which the IRGC has formed to harass enemy rear operations.
The Artesh, a mix of armored, infantry and mechanized units, would constitute Iran’s initial line of defense against invading forces. IRGC troops would support this effort, but they would also form the core of popular resistance, the bulk of which would be supplied by the Basij, the IRGC’s paramilitary volunteer force. The IRGC has developed a wartime mobilization plan for the Basij, called the Mo’in Plan, according to which Basij personnel would augment regular IRGC units in an invasion scenario.
IRGC and Basij exercises have featured simulated ambushes on enemy armored columns and helicopters. Much of this training has been conducted in an urban environment, suggesting that Iran intends to lure enemy forces into cities where they would be deprived of mobility and close air support. Iran has emphasized passive defense measures—techniques used to enhance the battlefield survivability —including camouflage, concealment and deception.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States found that conquering a country is the easy part. It’s the occupation that proves costly. While occupying Iran would be at least as difficult as the Iraqi and Afghan occupations, even invading Iran would prove enormously challenging. Consequently, while conquering Iran is the most sustainable way to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon, Washington is unlikely to attempt to do so anytime soon.
Zachary Keck is managing editor of The National Interest . You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.