19 March 2006

The Second Iranian War Scenario

Well, I do have strange thoughts! Luckily, reading about Brian J. Dunn's speculation on this, I feel that my second scenario not to be as unlikely as I had thought. So I will collect my emailings (with redactions to allow privacy to the recipient) and postings I have had on this. As I always do I will post as-is, without spelling corrections and such, remove necessary names to protect individuals and generally join together things broken up by commenting software.

First the email. This is part of a conversation I am having with the wonderful Lady working her Lone Pony site, in which I respond to the 'strange thoughts' I have been having on Iran, beyond the flexible, adaptable fully US/Coalition attack. The following is the edited part for redaction, the rest you are on your own, as I am:

Well, if things get military I think it will be a combination of psyops war and netwar... did a basic outline of that...

On the strange side... well, look at the recent events and note that the protesting was in front of the Revolutionary Guards, not Police or Army. This fits in with previous stories that the leadership has used the RG and mercenaries (mostly from Chechenya but others from the region) to quell student protests. The one fact that is escaping most folks is that the leadership does not trust its military or police to do this work. And since the majority of the population is under 25 and getting their rock 'n roll, info and cultural support through that, this points to a non-symmetrical shifting of power within Iran. Another thing to note is that the leadership is not generationally deep... at the most important positions they are about 1 deep with iffy seconds all around. If even the leadership is getting worried about their President making rash statements about what Iran will and will not do, that itchiness must have a cause beyond the military presence of the US in the neighborhood.

Basically between they leadership and the majority population there is a rift, perhaps a chasm, that is not closing in any way, shape or form. My public views are on my blog, and they are what I would consider a 1 year probable scenario... about 35% certainty at present. That other 65% is divided many ways...

Saddam sent anywhere from 30,000 to 65,000 Iraqis into Iran during his career. Those that have survived and come back are not pleased with what they saw. Moqtada being an exception and a pawn in this game, his support is obvious and an obvious ploy to destabilize Iraq. And the Iranian leadership has been trying to use him and al Qaeda to foster a sectarian conflict there... unfortunately the Ba'athist insurgents are starting to realize that being allied with them is now becoming not only unpopular, but fatal, hence the work by them to start going against al Qaeda so they can be seen as 'not as bad as them' and possibly survive. So, lets say that 15,000 or so Iraqi's in the south, plus many Kurdish families to the north, have friends, relatives and business contacts in Iran. These folks know the smuggling routes and those, for some reason, have *NOT* been shut off.

The Brits are not stupid. Neither are the US Forces, nor the New Iraqi Army. These routes are being kept open for a reason. The main speculation I have is to find sources of hardware and money going into Iraq. Actually, I think that was really done about 8 months ago... that is when the Special Forces dropped off the radar screen. The mountain routes can be interdicted by UCAVs or by loitering bombers and remote sensor feeds. Well within US capacity, and the Brits too, for that fact. Why would the Coalition forces want those routes kept open, even with large IEDs flowing back? There is excess airpower in the area and more on the way... two full squadrons of F-16s should be in-theater by now. And none of the in-theater squadrons have budged for 6 months. LOTS of excess airpower, even with out CV Battle Groups adding to the tango.

I have played out too many multifactional scenarios in my life to know when something is up... this is a 'dog not barking'. The question is not what is coming into Iraq... but what is going back INTO Iran? My suspicions are aroused, particularly in the north. The obvious is that these routes will be invasion routes for US Forces once the New Iraqi Army is capable of working on its own under Coalition, but not US logistics. The more subtle view is that contacts are being made via the Iraqi contacts in Iran with the Iranian Army, possibly via the Special Forces or through trusted envoys. It is on the 20% probable side that if something is arranged to *happen* that the Iranian Army can use as an excuse, then those forces closest to the borders of Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan will decamp and move inwards, targeting the mercenaries, terrorists and mostly the RG. I would not be surprised to have *bolts from the blue* reinforce this via stealth UAVs and stealth aircraft from the US. A sudden declaration of support of the Iranian army by the US, UK and other coalition allies would not be unexpected.

My guess is that I will be proven wrong as the other 45% is for all the actors known and unknown currently in Iran. There are a bevy of them. But I do know that the mountain smuggling routes going un-interdicted when it would be easy to do so is vital if not pivotal. You can twist it many ways, but it all points to the Coalition being up to *something*. If the Brits had called up the Gurkhas, then I could point definitively to the military scenario or a supported military coup. But, they haven't done so. No idea how busy the SAS is in the area, but my guess is very busy. The RG and hired guns and terrorists cannot cover it all, especially up north. And the Kurds would dearly love to see their people free of the leadership.

Iran is a mess. Like so many authoritarian and totalitarian regimes it gives a look of having the populace under control. That is cracking and has been for a couple of years and the leaders are grasping harder on their remaining straws. They have pulled out all the stops, shifting terrorists into counter-infiltration positions, pushed the nuclear button until the West is disgusted with them, and use their RG to do the dirty work. The best way to bring that edifice down, as Poland showed with Solidarity, is from the inside. Then it all falls in on itself, and in Iran a small and fast moving force could do that in hours against the leadership. A tricky and dicey piece of work is going on...the obvious clamor keeps us pre-occupied, but the underlying things are pointing to something different.

The Leadership knows *something* is happening... they fidget. Now they waffle with their President. If it were to be purely military from the US with having tacit support of the Iranian Army to stay out, it would fit pretty well. So does a fast moving military coup, that then asks for help in *making* order, making a new government. The kids growing up there have satellite dishes, they listen, they watch MTV, they are on the net when they can do so safely, they have their own underground culture... and they are the MAJORITY OF THE ARMY.

That 45% bothers me and my mind plays with it in the background... strange shapes and motions going on... part of me is trying to fit something non-obvious together. Used to do that in hours before I had problems, often minutes... now... strange thoughts... Kurds hold a trump card somewhere. Perhaps an annexation or sudden shift of the Kurds in northern Iran to independence? Possible. What has been flowing into Iran from Afghanistan? That is a long and relatively empty region. Neighbors to the north do not like Iran. Possibly something there. Iran trying to destabilize Pakistan via the relatively uncontrolled provinces, to try and weaken the Coalition? Not likely, for the same air cover reason, but still a possibility.

Whatever it is, it will not be as I expect it. Our military planners have *learned* much up and down the line. Their former selves in 2001 would not recognize how they operate today, and that is the truth. I have never witnessed such a fast adaptation by a military structure in my life and rarely in history. They have changed their own idea of what war and battle and supply and conflict mean, because their tools are unlike anything in history. And the troops not only adapt, but re-up in record numbers both in numbers and in percentage. This new US Military now *thrives* on change. I can no longer figure out what they do by the obvious... it used to be logistics, but today they take it with them or get it dropped and continue, it is like they take an entire supply base *with them* now. That is amazing. From what I have read on Army and Marine training, almost all of the soldiers from private on up now learn enough of the local language and culture to win trust, make contacts and ensure they *do the right thing*. We field the most intelligent army on the planet, and that is only the ground troops!

I am trying desperately to think in their NetWar mindset... three years or so ago I could have given you a 60% probably on *something*. My mind isn't up to it.

I wish I could tell you more, but my mind has strange thoughts. That happens when the land of dreams softens reality... and reality seeps into the dreaming lands.
Strange idea, isn't it? Well, Mr. Dunn had the same idea some time ago, so not so strange in retrospect.

Now I do post, betimes, here and there on such things and needless to say, I have expanded and expounded this second idea, of which I am not the first to think thus, but came to it by my own look at the situation as to what *makes sense* in a NetWar mindset.

At Revka's Take I expounded beyond the bounds of HaloScan and needs must co-join my thoughts, so I will make a coherent whole of it. The idea starts with the recent need of an Army of Translators but transitions into Iran. Do bear with me as I can only state things in long form in these latter days as concise thought eludes me and I needs must start out with the current documents situation as they do play a role, albeit as a side-light:

David Kay report

Congressional Authorization of the Use of Force against Iraq

My take on the CAUF

The upshot is that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD programs and materials, developing long range delivery systems and working with terrorists of all stripes. While his son Udey did help Zarqawi recover in a hospital he owned, the ties to terrorism run much deeper and right through the heart of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International.

From what we know right now, today, there was every justification, as cited by Congress to do what was necessary in Iraq. It should be noted that the materials that had been secreted away by Saddam's scientists could *ONLY* be found by a thorough combing of the country that no envisioned inspection team from the UN could ever have done with Saddam in power.

Additionally training techniques seen from Salman Pak are now distributed from the Sudan to Chechenya to the Philippines and even into South America. al Qaeda has been using FARC forgery experts who have Iraqi ties to provide false documentation to al Qaeda.

I term this: Transnational Terrorism. Any attempt to limit the entire endeavour to *just* al Qaeda will be a long term disaster and suicide of a unique form to civilization. These groups respect nothing about Nation States, International Agreement, Rights of Man or any law not their own, and often not even that. Iraq was a training base, supplier and financier of MANY terrorists and terrorist organizations. The entire store of documents to come out will amount to 3,000 hours of Saddam's audio tapes and over 1 million documents (even if just 1 page official documents, that will be huge). The CIA, NSA and other Intelligence Community groups have looked and listened to less than 3% of these.

Can we get off of WMDs? Saddam wanted them, gamed the UN and various member countries and had every plan to restart his programs after sanctiions were gone and then prepare to deliver them with ballistic missiles that were under development.

Beyond that, I expect these documents to show the dull day-to-day activity of what it takes to stay in contact with terrorists, hostile governments and bureaucrats. The dull routine of horror. Just like the train schedules kept in the archives in Germany and the names on them.

Can we get off of Bush and WMDs and recognize there is a systemic threat to the system of Nation States by those who wish to destroy the entire set-up and rule by tyrrany? Can the vituperation stop now that we will have months and months of 'An Army of Analysts' who will document the day to day routines of money, men, material and other minutia needed to run a despotic and expansionistic totalitarian state? For I trust tens, hundreds and thousands of language experts doing their own translations and cross-checking each other more than any Government Intelligence Agency.

The things we do know is that the military, justice, state and treasury departments CAN NOT STOP IT. Asymmetrical war requires and asymmetrical response that cannot be easily countered, stopped or subborned. The disease is Transnational Terrorism, al Qaeda is a *symptom* not a *cause*. Stopping al Qaeda will *not* stop the disease which has been growing for decades.

I am obviously crazy as I appear to be the only one who sees this.

The finger pointing and yelling and useless raising of blood pressure will be the death of everything we hold dear in life. No matter what Bush did, short of turning Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran into glassy surfaces, we would be in the exact same situation. Cauterization is effective, but horrendous at the nation state scale. And if the arguing continues then it will be the ONLY remedy left when the destruction eats directly into the United States.

I will support that to save us all. Let thousands of bright lights of the Heart of Freedom glow amongst our enemies and cleanse their lands with the Terrible Swift Sword of the Republic. I would prefer a *better* way. And like New Orleans, we will sink into oblivion and our pettiness be damned by generations because we could not shut up and address the problem before all of us.

If the day of the Sword of the Republic comes, I will be thankful for it so as to give us one last chance to survive. And truly begin to hate my fellow Citizens who left us no other choice.

I try to offer a *better* way. But those with petty hate will leave us no choice at the end.
Second posting, be patient, there is a point to this!

[To a respondant] - The US is well within its rights via Jus ad bellum and three Casus Belli to stage a war against Iran. I go over the basics here.

Simply, via all the dictates of diplomacy between Nation States and by all the International Law developed since the 17th Century, the US can do as it damn well pleases at any time with respect to Iran.

And if the direct reports of Iranian supplied, trained and directed insurgents firing on US troops is correct, then we can add in two more for good measure. The question is not *if* we *should* respond, but *when* will we *decide* to respond. There is no statute of limitations on such and some of us have long memories and hard feelings that need to be addressed against the regime in Iran. The question of when to do so is the only one that needs be looked at. The *if* part is no longer in question.

For all those trying to argue that Iraq was not a *JUST* war, then recognizing the rules for waging such, one must recognize the validity of the US position. War against Iran is JUST by any Internationally Diplomatically recognized structure of that conception.

This is one thing that cannot be niticked, gainsayed or otherwise denied: Iran has given just cause to attack them for *other* things. It is the right of any country so given cause to respond in the time and way of their choosing. And if they are directly attacking US troops via proxy, then the Iranian regime deserves everything that can be handed to them.

I go over the interesting concepts of a purely military intervention here.
At this point I do not give it an overwhelming chance to happen, but it is the one that has the largest possibility as I see it. I do have other strange thoughts on to what is going on with Iran, but none of those coalesce to something that I can give absolute hard definition to, just speculation. And whatever happens I know it will not be as I nor as anyone else thinks it will be.
And now to the meat:

I really do need to put my next highest probability down sometime... talked about it with Lone Pony... there is this nice confluence of the Iranian leadership not trusting its military, contacts that can be exploited between those that have been in Iran and still have family and business contacts there, the disappearance of the Coalition Special Forces, UAVs, and the Iranian police and military being much lower in age than the leadership and much more in-tune with the majority population.

Don't need a full scale invasion if a few Iranian Army units and some of the Police can be flipped and supported by the combined Coalition airpower and, perhaps, 20,000 or so troops to handle logistics and terrorist clean-up. Add in Special Forces liaison and forward air coordination with some of the anti-communications and electrical grid hocus-pocus we have up our sleeves, and the Iranian leadership could find itself powerless (figuratively and literally), cut-off, targeted and unable to get backing from any but the Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries. If a couple of provinces go along with some military units, my bet would be that the US and Coalition governments would recognize them in a heartbeat, especially when they would ask for help and guidance in rebuilding their society. And if their Kurds wanted a bit more independence to associate across the border, well, I am sure a bit of pointing out the realities of the situation would let the Iranians understand that they don't want a *real* civil war on their hands.

As for all the wonderful terrorists in Iran? Well, the Special Forces may be regarded like Number 6 in The Village: "Waiting, watching, constantly agressive." They are willing to do the first two very well, so the third can come into play.

It is, of course, mere speculation. But I can tell you that if you think the US can only fight one kind of war, you are wrong. We tailor wars to circumstances and mold circumstances to our favor whenever possible. It takes awhile for this to become part of the way of business, but the Army and Marines are in that *mode* now.

Any speculation on events must take more than just the Leadership in Tehran into account. Much, much, much more than just them.

When I speak of war, I mean adaptable, flexible war using all the tools available. The Northern Alliance in Afghanistan were *not* US forces. We did not have the luxury of such in Iraq after what happened at the start of the cease fire. But Iran? A whole different kettle of fish... maybe we can *arrange* things a bit differently there so we don't need divisions of Marines or Army to go in. Just support and counter-insurgency specialists... like the Kurds.

Custom, adaptable, made-to-fit and circumstances adjust to fit whenever possible. I don't think anyone would *not* want to support an Iranian military coup asking for help so that they can get rid of tyrrany and terrorism, and rebuild to become a free peoples.And watch their MTV and dance in the streets, without fear of getting shot.

Can we *now* get off of 'stupid'?

And now my clarification of that, in which I drive the point home of exactly what we are dealing with:

[To the respondant] - I am not talking about the Leadership or Revolutionary Guard in Iran. I am talking about the regulary Army there... which has not been brought out to quell a riot or do other such work for the Leaders.

Same for the police. The Secret Police, yes... but the civil police? Read exactly who it is that breaks up protests and otherwise drives the protesters from the street. It is not the Army nor the civil police. You will see the Revolutionary Guard, Secret Police and hired mercenaries, but rarely the civil police or the Army. If ever.

The Leadership is one-deep and has no backups that are trustworthy. They depend on vicious groups dedicated to them to enforce their will. The average age in Iran is 25, and the masses do not remember the Shah and have had it with their leaders. It is this group that is now the Army and the Police, not the dedicated fanatics.

And this demographic? Satellite television, computers, their own cultural networking systems, their own underground music enclaves, their own electronic dating systems... all banned by the Leaders. They get their MTV, Rock and Roll and see movies from the West. If the Leaders do not trust them, and use tactics of coercion upon them...then they are right to mistrust the civil police and Army.

For like the Russian Revolution, the returning armies coming to quell the uprising ended up joining them.

It would not take much to bring such a structure down, from the inside. And do you think an individual contacted by Iraqi intermediaries would report himself? The penalties for wanting different are harsh.

And if they did get a nuclear weapon, would they use it in Iraq? In Israel? Bring it via cargo container to the US? Or use it to destroy a fraction of their youthful population to bring them to heel?

I wonder what the 30 and under demographic feel about such things.

I may think strange thoughts... but that is so I can imagine how evil thinks and maybe, just maybe, stop it. For I know no matter how bad my thoughts are, theirs will be worse.

And what would those who say 'Don't go! It's to hard! Not a Just war!' say if the Clerics decided to begin cleansing Iranian cities first?

Horrible? Yes. Unthinkable? I just did, and I know they are worse.
And so it is, but I do think in many spheres of thought.

At this point I must needs change my probability estimates to 25% for the direct military option as I stated in my first go around and 25% to this sort of action of supported Iranian Regular Army coup with airforce and some heavy unit and logistics supplied by the US and Coalition, with the Kurds 'liberating' the north with US help. And my thoughts are putting more on the ignored aspects of NetWar, which is the civil and personal contacts side. If we are not believed capable of working in that sphere, then we will be seen as posing no threat via that sphere.

How unfortunate for our opponents.

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