What we could do with Iran militarily

IBD:

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'If I were an Iranian leader I'd be very worried," former NATO commander and Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark said at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday. "I'd be paying close attention."

There may not have been much to like about the former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe's 2004 run for the White House, notably his lack of commitment to the liberation of Iraq. But this week he reminded people of his can-do days when he commanded the Clinton administration's interventionist (and, for the most part, ill-advised) military operations in Bosnia and Kosovo.

"I know what our military capability is, and I know what we could do," he told conference attendees. "We're not gonna occupy Iran; it's too big.

"But can we strike every air defense location? Can we take out those missile boats in the Gulf? Can we take out every bit of missile manufacturing capability? Can we put SF (special forces) teams on the ground and go deep underground? Can we occupy parts of that country week after week, month after month, and hold it in a grip?

"We could, and they shouldn't doubt it."

Another Bush administration critic retired from the military who thinks a U.S. strike against Iran's nuclear sites can succeed — though he opposes actually doing it — is U.S. Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, a darling of lefty journalists like Seymour Hersh who has taught at several war colleges and spends a good deal of his time accusing the military-industrial complex of lying to the people.

"I've done some rough 'targeting' of nuclear facilities for which I can find satellite photos on the web," Gardiner said in a paper on U.S. military options in Iran that he presented at a 2006 conference in Berlin. "My calculation is an attack of relatively high certainty would require 400 aim points. ... I estimate 75 of these aim points would require penetrating weapons."

According to Gardiner, however, "I don't think a U.S. military planner would want to stop there. Iran probably has two chemical production plants. He would hit those. He would want to hit the medium range ballistic missiles that have just recently been moved closer to Iraq.

"There are 14 airfields with sheltered aircraft. Although the Iranian Air Force is not much of a threat, some of these airfields are less than 15 minutes flying time from Baghdad. That's a hard air defense problem. Military planners would want to get rid of that threat."

In addition, "the Pentagon would want to hit the assets that could be used to threaten Gulf shipping. That means targeting the cruise missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines ... some of the facilities may be too difficult to target even with penetrating weapons. The U.S. will have to use Special Operations units for these, just as the Israelis have planned."

Sounds pretty daunting, but according to Col. Gardiner, "The entire operation could be accomplished by the United States in about five days."

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I tend to think it would take longer, but certainly believe it is doable. As I have noted before, we would need to destroy Iran's ability to make war. That would require destroying all her weapons manufacturing capacity along with the weapons used. Since we are not going to be occupying Iran or engaging in counterinsurgency operations, we might want to target more of her infrastructure such as her limited refining capacity.

Even with the optimistic schedule of five days, it points out why Israel would not be able to do the job itself, since it would not be able to sustain attacks beyond an initial strike. What it could do is trigger a reaction from Iran against the US which could very well lead to the kind of sustained attack I am talking about.

The point is that the US could devastate Iran militarily if we have the will to do so. Since Iran has been at war with the US for over 30 years, we certainly have a cumulative causus belli.

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