Iran’s stealth drones have become the new blueprint for international warfare

In January, an Iranian exploding drone hit a US military base in Jordan, killing three US service members. The Washington Post cited a defense source who said the weapon was a small attack Shahed-101.

The drone was able to sneak past American defenses by shadowing a US drone also landing at the base — a trick believed to have been picked up from Russia, Bloomberg reported.

“Russia and Iran are learning from each other. That is almost as important as the technology-sharing itself,” Matthew McInnis, a Pentagon intelligence officer who was a State Department representative for Iran, told the outlet.

But Iran’s influence goes beyond Russia. Iranian-backed Houthis have curtailed trade in the Red Sea in recent months by perpetrating drone attacks on cargo ships.

Bloomberg reported that Ethiopia had used Iranian drones to squash rebellions in the country, while Tajikistan, Algeria, and Venezuela were also partnering with Iran.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/irans-stealth-drones-become-blueprint-013422260.html

White House says Iran did not provide early warning of Israel attack — and didn’t mean for it to fail

“The White House is strongly denying reports that Iran provided any advance warning of the massive aerial attack it sent towards Israel on Saturday, calling the suggestion that Tehran would have provided any information on its military plans “ridiculous”.
John Kirby, the president’s national security communications adviser, also took a page from President Joe Biden’s book of oft-used phrases by referring to reports of such warnings — through back channels or otherwise — as “malarkey”.

“We did receive messages from Iran, and they receive messages from us too, but there was never any message to us or to anyone else on the timeframe, the targets, or the type of response,” he said during a White House press briefing on Monday.

“I want to be clear, this whole narrative out there that Iran passed us a message with what they were going to do is ridiculous,” he later added.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iran-attack-doesn-t-mean-155639859.html

Iran’s attack seemed planned to minimize casualties while maximizing spectacle

“Over 300 drones and missiles navigated above Iran’s neighbors, including Jordan and Iraq — both with US military bases — before penetrating the airspace of Iran’s mortal enemy, Israel. Israel’s allies helped shoot down the bulk of these weapons, but couldn’t prevent what was long believed to be the Middle East’s doomsday scenario, the Islamic Republic’s first-ever attack on Israel.
Israel’s fabled Iron Dome air defense system did not disappoint Israelis, many of whom took to bunkers. Only a small handful of locations were attacked, including a military base and an area in the Negev desert, injuring a Bedouin child, while the dome fended off one of the largest drone attacks in history

Yet it was an operation that seemed designed to fail — when Iran launched its killer drones from its own territory some 1,000 miles away, it was giving Israel hours of advance notice.

The symbolism of the attack did the heavy lifting. Rather than fire from one of the neighboring countries where Iran and its non-state allies are present, this was a direct attack from Iranian territory on Israeli territory. This compromised Iran’s ability to damage Israel because it robbed the operation of the element of surprise.

Yet for some four hours, the world held its breath as weapons whizzed through the night sky. They were balls of fire hovering overhead as onlookers across three different countries filmed images that seemed to harken the start of a cataclysmic war.”

“The strike served as a retaliation against the Israeli airstrikes on Iran’s consulate in Damascus earlier in April that killed a top commander, and it was in keeping with US intelligence and analysts’ expectations. Iran’s leadership felt compelled to strike Israel in order to reiterate its position as a regional powerhouse and to dispel notions of it as a paper tiger. It doubled down on its show of force by launching the operation from its own territory and not by proxy in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen or Iraq.

Yet Iran also needed to try to avoid sparking an all-out war. Its economy has buckled under the weight of Trump-era sanctions, and there is growing discontent on its streets over the government’s repressive policies. On Sunday, Iran appeared not only to have factored in Israel’s robust air defense systems, but to have relied on it. The relatively high degree of US intelligence about the operation also suggests Iran may have engaged in back-channelling with Western leaders. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said he gave neighboring countries, including major US allies, 72-hour notice. To contain the fall-out of their own operation, they appeared intent to foil it.

The style of attack is reminiscent of Tehran’s response to former President Donald Trump’s targeted killing of Iran’s most storied general, Qassem Soleimani, in January 2020. Tehran gave US troops 10 hours of advance warning before raining down massive ballistic missiles on US military positions in Iraq, including al-Asad airbase. The attack wreaked havoc, leaving gaping craters in the ground, but caused no known US casualties. In the process, Iranian forces accidentally shot down a commercial jet taking off from Tehran airport, killing over 100 passengers and fuelling public anger against a regime increasingly seen as incompetent.

At the time, the Iranians were preoccupied with demonstrating what their military could do, rather than what it was willing to do. The US did not retaliate, averting regional war.

Four years later, Iran’s playbook may not unfold in the same way. Israel has already vowed to respond. The US has publicly stated it would not participate in an Israeli retaliation, which may reassure Iran. Yet Netanyahu’s Israel has proven increasingly unpredictable. Iran’s threats of more severe action in case of further escalation may fall on deaf ears in Israel, to its own peril.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iran-attack-seemed-planned-minimize-145547869.html

The Ukraine Air-War in 2024 – Interviewing Professor Justin Bronk

“The Ukrainians are losing thousands of people because they don’t have enough ammunition…political game in Washington, it’s an election year…thousands of people are dying because of this.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R31hMWs25UI

The Killing of 3 American Troops Was an Avoidable Tragedy

“U.S. Special Forces had first set up shop in al-Tanf during the war against the Islamic State. Their plan was to support the Revolutionary Commando Army, a friendly Syrian rebel group. That project failed embarrassingly. The Revolutionary Commando Army suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Islamic State in 2016, and one of its leaders ran off with American-made guns after he was accused of drug trafficking in 2020. Kurdish-led forces elsewhere in Syria became a much more reliable partner for the U.S. military.
Meanwhile, Russia—which is allied with the Iranian and Syrian governments—agreed to enforce a 55 kilometer “deconfliction zone” around al-Tanf. The zone also included Rukban, an unofficial refugee camp built by Syrians fleeing government persecution. (The Syrian government reportedly tortured two former Rukban residents to death in October 2022.) No country wanted to take responsibility for the camp, and it took almost a decade for the U.S. military to begin providing food aid to Rukban.

Washington, however, had a different purpose for al-Tanf in mind: countering Iran and its allies. The base’s location near the Iraqi-Syrian border made it valuable real estate, especially for anyone intent on breaking up the “land bridge” between Iranian allies. It also allowed the U.S. military and Israeli intelligence to listen in on Iranian communications, according to Al-Monitor, a Washington-based magazine focused on the Middle East. So the Americans stayed.

“Control of [al-Tanf] neutralized a key border crossing point on the road between Baghdad and Damascus, which forced Iran and others to cross from Iraq into Syria at a more distant border crossing to the north,” former Trump administration official John Bolton declared in his 2020 memoir, The Room Where It Happened. “Besides, why give away territory for nothing?”

More provocatively, Israeli forces began using al-Tanf’s airspace to bomb Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in Syria. (Since American aircraft often fly the same route, Syrian “air defenses can’t tell the difference until it’s too late,” a U.S. official told Al-Monitor.) The Israeli air campaign, known as “the war between the wars,” was designed to prevent Iran from moving weapons into the region in anticipation of a future war. Israel dropped more than 2,000 bombs on Syria in 2018, through “near-daily” air raids, with the direct involvement of U.S. leaders.

“The Israeli strike plans were submitted through the U.S. military chain and reviewed at CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command], usually days in advance of the strike; the strike plans outlined the purpose of the mission, the number of warplanes that would carry out the attack, and when it would occur,” wrote Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Gordon in his 2022 book, Degrade and Destroy: The Inside Story of the War Against the Islamic State. “They also spelled out the routes the Israeli planes would take and the coordinates of the target that would be struck. CENTCOM would examine the request, which would also be shared with the U.S. defense secretary, who would have the final say.”

It seemed like a win-win arrangement. Israel had a safe route for its bombing runs, and the United States could weaken a foreign rival without getting directly involved. But there was a problem: Iran was not stupid, and it could see that the American troops were facilitating the raids on its own troops. In retaliation for a series of Israeli attacks in October 2021, the Iranian military bombed al-Tanf the following month. No Americans were harmed at the time, but it was an ominous sign of the dangers involved.”

“Other officials and experts continued to worry that al-Tanf could become a liability. Former U.S. Air Force colonel Daniel L. Magruder Jr. called al-Tanf “strategic baggage” in an article published by the Brookings Institute a few weeks after Biden was elected. He recommended withdrawing U.S. forces in exchange for a deal to allow the refugee safe passage. The colonel warned that Russia and Iran had “acted provocatively” against al-Tanf in the past. “Would the U.S. be able to control escalation if an American were killed?” he wondered.

Three years later, Magruder’s question is sadly relevant. It remains to be seen how Biden will react to the killing of the three American troops, and whether that reaction deters further violence or escalates the situation even more. But Washington can’t say it wasn’t warned.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/29/the-killing-of-3-american-troops-was-an-avoidable-tragedy/

Why did US wait to retaliate for drone attack on its troops?

“Defence and security officials said that weather had made it difficult to retaliate sooner, with Friday presenting the best conditions for launching strikes.
Though the White House and Pentagon also repeatedly said they were avoiding “telegraphing” operations in the days leading up to the strikes, experts believe they did just that – with the ultimate intention of avoiding a wider war with Iran.

Arabian Gulf States Institute of Washington fellow Hussein Ibish, said the delay appeared to be the US signalling “what they’re not going to do, which is strike inside Iran”.

Mr Mulroy told the BBC it is possible that the US allowed Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel “to leave the facilities that are going to be struck”.

Experts noted the US must walk a fine line between deterring a country like Iran without igniting a greater conflict.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/why-did-us-wait-retaliate-020425239.html

The US must strike Iran, and take out its terrorist commanders

“After more than 170 attempts since October, the proxies of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have succeeded in killing three US soldiers and injuring 25 in on the Jordan-Syria border. The US must respond now, and it must hold the IRGC directly accountable. Washington should conduct targeted strikes against senior IRGC commanders – a course of action that would send a clear message to the regime in Iran and make it think twice about escalating further.
For decades, the mainstream view among so-called policy “experts” in the Washington and Westminster bubble has been that targeted strikes against the IRGC increases the chance of all-out war with Tehran. This popular narrative that such action will lead to “World War 3” has shaped the Biden administration’s reluctance to respond to Tehran’s consistent acts of aggression since October 7, including sponsored attacks on US forces. But is the fear of what the IRGC would do in such a scenario worse than the reality? Past experiences seem to suggest so.

Since at least 2008 different US and Israeli administrations have conducted high value targeted strikes against the IRGC and its key proxies. The list of those struck reads like a terrorist all-star roster: Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s terror chief, killed in 2008; Hassan Shateri, the Quds Force general suspected of being behind Hezbollah’s underground missile infrastructure, killed in 2013; Qasem Soleimani, the second-most powerful man in Iran, killed in 2020; Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the IRGC’s nuclear weapons scientist, killed in the same year; and, more recently, Sadegh Omidzadeh, head of the Quds Force intelligence unit in Syria, killed last week.

In each case, Khamenei’s regime has vowed “harsh revenge”; in practice, each strike has degraded his regime’s ability to inflict violence on America and its allies. Perhaps the best example was the regime’s so-called “Operation Martyr Soleimani”. After the assassination of the IRGC commander – itself a response to a string of Iranian backed attacks on Western interests – Tehran launched a series of ballistic missiles at al-Asad Airbase and Erbil International Airport in Iraq. But as it pulled the trigger, it simultaneously announced that it had given advance warning to the Iraqi government, which in turn had passed this warning to American forces.

This is how Tehran responded to the killing of its most senior and valuable commander. Not the outbreak of World War 3, but a carefully choreographed display. And it was no exception to the general rule: whenever America and its allies have conducted high value targeted strikes against the Iranian regime, they have deterred further action rather than encouraged it.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-must-strike-iran-terrorist-142731799.html

Biden’s Options Range From Unsatisfying to Risky After American Deaths

“A spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, said at a news conference in Tehran, Iran, on Monday that the militias “do not take orders” from Iran and act independently. It is a convenient argument, one that preserves some sense of deniability for Iran.
But the speed at which Iran tried to distance itself from the strike, rather than embrace it, underscored that the downside of using proxies is the same as the upside: Iran will be blamed for everything the militias do, even acts the Iranians believe are too provocative.

“This is the inherent risk in Iran’s proxy-war strategy,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It has been brilliantly successful, but only if the retaliation focuses on proxies and not on Iran’s own territory. Now there is a real risk of things getting even more out of hand in the region.”

Biden is running out of middle-ground options. Sanctions have been exhausted; there is barely a sector of the Iranian economy that the United States and Europe are not already punishing, and China continues to buy up Iranian oil. He could approve “strike packages” against a variety of proxies, but that would embolden some of them, and give some of them the status they crave as legitimate U.S. enemies.

And, following Stavridis’ suggestion, it could look to cyberattacks, more stealthy, deniable ways to make a point. But the lesson of the past decade of cyberconflict with Iran — in both directions — is that it looks easier in the movies than in reality. Gaining access to critical networks is hard, and having lasting impact is even harder. The most famous American-Israeli cyberattack on Iran, aimed at its nuclear centrifuges 15 years ago, slowed the nuclear program for a year or two but did not put it out of business.

And that is Biden’s challenge now: In the middle of an election, with two wars underway, he needs to put Iran’s sponsorship of attacks on Americans out of business — without starting another war.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/biden-options-range-unsatisfying-risky-182446875.html