Iranian Military Developments and Trends

(Chatham House-UK) Michael Eisenstadt - The Islamic Republic of Iran has three core components to its national security policy: its grey zone regional strategy, its unconventional force structure, and its nuclear hedging strategy. Since its inception, the Islamic Republic has relied extensively on activities in the "grey zone" between war and peace to advance its anti-status quo regional agenda. Its toolkit consists of unilateral and proxy activities, covert or overt, in both the physical and cyber domains. They include hostage-taking; embassy invasions; terrorism; rocket, drone and missile strikes; and attacks on maritime traffic. Tehran typically tests adversaries to see what it can get away with. It engages in covert or proxy activities to preserve a degree of deniability. It relies on incremental action and indirection to create ambiguity regarding its intentions. In recent years the Islamic Republic has shown a greater willingness to incur risk and use force unilaterally against Israel, the Gulf Arab states and the U.S. For instance, it has plotted to kill former senior U.S. government officials and abduct or kill Iranian dissidents in the U.S. and Europe. Iran's force structure emphasizes long-range strike systems (drones and missiles), proxy militias, and sea denial capabilities. Tehran will work to increase further the range, accuracy, and payload of its drone and missile force. It will also seek to improve its ability to neutralize enemy defenses, developing missile penetration aids and countermeasures. Although the emerging axis between Iran and Russia may create new procurement opportunities for Tehran, Moscow will be hard-pressed to spare large numbers of modern arms when its own military is taking heavy losses. The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2023-04-24 00:00:00

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