Updating Iran's naval doctrine

Reuters

Two Iranian navy warships are seen docked at Port Sudan in the Red Sea state December 8, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • If Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sought to change the tone of Iranian rhetoric, his memo has not reached the IRGC.

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  • The IRGC's interpretation of Obama’s decision to consult with Congress prior to any U.S. military strike on Syria is worth noting.

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  • The concept of jihadi commandos might refer to suicide brigades, but also could presage new capabilities, such as underwater sabotage.

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If Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sought to change the tone of Iranian rhetoric, his memo has not reached the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In a semi-official, hardline Fars News Agency report summarizing two interviews granted by IRGC-Navy Commander Ali Fadavi to television news programs, Fadavi argued that the growth of the IRGC and regular Iranian navies had led the U.S. Navy to retreat from the Persian Gulf.

That Fadavi claims that the IRGC’s activities have forced unprecedented change in American strategy is meant to affirm Fadavi’s leadership and the wisdom of the Supreme Leader’s post-2011 emphasis on the IRGC Navy as the IRGC’s marquis division. The five categories he lists for the IRGC-Navy illustrate how Iran has augmented its asymmetric strategy with new technologies, specifically with new ship-borne missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. The concept of jihadi commandos might refer to suicide brigades, but also could presage new capabilities, such as underwater sabotage.

Also interesting is Fadavi’s interpretation of President Obama’s decision to consult with Congress prior to any U.S. military strike on Syria. Fadavi calculates that if the IRGC-Navy can create enough deterrence, the U.S. Congress will hesitate to give any approval to future action against Iran. While that may or may not be an accurate reading of the U.S. political mood, such a belief among IRGC commanders will likely lead to continued military bluster, even as Iranian diplomats soften their tone.

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