EXPERT TESTING – This week, US Central Command (CENTCOM) issue a statement confirmed that “US forces at Al Dhafra Air Base, near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), conducted two missile threats to the ground with multiple interceptor missiles. Patriot coincided with the efforts of the UAE armed forces in the early morning of January 1. 24, 2022. Combined efforts successfully prevented both missiles from impacting the base. There were no US casualties. ”
Several weeks earlier, military bases in Iraq and Syria where American troops were located were also attacked. Last December, the US embassy in Baghdad was hit when two rockets landed in the Green Zone. Fortunately, like the Houthi attack on January 24th on the UAE, there were no US casualties (although the Houthi attack on January 17th killed two Indian nationals and one Pakistan).
What these attacks and many others have in common in the region is Iran’s undeniable involvement. They may have different local backgrounds and their perpetrators, all loyal to Iran, may have different motives, but any attack is possible just because Iran provides weapons or know how to assemble and use them.
Iran’s network of proxies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain and possibly elsewhere is what makes Tehran so deadly in the region. It is a clever method of projecting power, honed over decades, because it allows the Iranians to weaken their opponents and achieve their strategic goals at the lowest possible cost. Iran will fight to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Bahrain eventually.
The Iranians have every intention of continuing to rely on their indirect approach as it has paid a strategic dividend. Their hope is that we will continue to play their game and just run under their proxy whenever we get hacked. In the case of the Houthis, for example, Tehran expects us and our regional partners to attack the Houthis – and only the Houthis – every time they throw a missile at Al Dhafra. And in many ways, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. In January 2020, we removed Iran’s top military commander and the architect of this proxy network, General Qassem Soleimani, but we were careful to do it in the region, not right on Iranian soil.
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US motivated attacks against Iranian proxies, while necessary, are clearly not enough. Simply put, there are more militias under Iran’s command in the region than there are American bombs. To re-establish deterrence against Iran, we must conduct our tactical/operational operations, where we are extremely effective, serving a broader range. strategy. We need to make it clear to the Iranians that their asymmetrical play, especially when it comes to US personnel and interests, comes at a hefty price.
We’ve announced red lines before and have been successful with it. In Iraq, we hold Iran responsible for the attacks its Iraqi proxies routinely carry out on our military using missile-assisted munitions (IRAM) and equipment. explosively penetrated (EFP). Those tools were killed at least 196 American soldiers and injured nearly 900 people between 2005 and 2011.
But for now, it’s not the IRAM and EFP that Iran is supplying, but the ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and weaponized unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAS). Those are much more powerful weapons of war, which can cause significant material damage to cities and critical infrastructure and kill a lot of people.
We have to catch up with this Iranian tactic before things really escalate – otherwise we might not be so lucky next time and those missiles could lead to significant casualties. This isn’t just about protecting our partners, it’s just as important as that responsibility. This is about protecting our military and diplomatic personnel in the region, as well as our core interests in a region still important to global trade and international security. .
It is never an easy conversation when we discuss any possible use of force. But we are under attack, literally and often, and nuclear diplomacy alone, whatever happens in the Vienna talks, will not remedy or effectively manage this. develop problem. We have every right to defend ourselves and our collective security interests.
From an operational standpoint, this requires consulting our carefully crafted Iran target list. We don’t need to specify to the Iranians what we will attack inside Iran, or how, if they attack us again, but it is important that we communicate that threat. reliable. The worst thing we can do is make that threat but can’t do it. Our credibility in the region has been threatened over the years due to the United States’ failure to respond to Iran’s various acts of aggression and intimidation. At least don’t further weaken it and ideally strengthen it in part through the measures described above.
In addition to sending a clear message to Tehran about the consequences of another potential attack (this is a deterrent by punishment), we need to upgrade our defenses (this is a deterrent factor). threaten by refusal). We can do that by establishing a fusion cell based on the Houthi missile and the UAS threat to provide our Gulf Arab partners with intelligence on pre-emptive operations. future attacks along with real-time warnings about launching such attacks.
We currently have an integrated branch with Emiratis, but it is focused on al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, not the Houthis. Creating this cell will require US resources, but there’s nothing we can’t afford or that would distract from the security priorities in other major movie theaters. Such resources may include two or three Predator tails and other national intelligence assets that will provide continuous, high-quality intelligence and warnings of planned or impending attacks occurred on personnel and bases of the United States or of our Saudi and Emirati partners.
More broadly, while immediate tactical solutions to help our regional partners respond to Houthi attacks are needed, only the United States can create a The complex types of regional businesses, both military and non-military, are needed to confront the rapidly growing power of Iranian proxies across the region, including the Houthis. The question is whether Washington can politics craving to do any of this.
There are American voices who might call such potential US responses escalation, even reckless. While there is always a risk in any U.S. response that could include the use of force, the risk of inaction is much greater as it would expose Iran to further aggression, which, at that point, almost cannot let the United States not attack Iran hard and deeply.
That is exactly a scenario we should be trying to prevent, and it all starts with re-establishing deterrence. The most important thing in this equation – which more risk-averse advocates should never forget – is that Iran is the aggressor and it still has a say in what we choose to do. It may decide to halt shipments of its strategic weapons to its proxies and regulators, or it may continue with its vastly irresponsible approach but suffer the consequences.
This article was first published by the Washington-based consulting organization I
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