Monday, May 01, 2006
Interesting debate on an Israeli first strike against Iran..
Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for posting up one of my notes on the repercussions/ analyses of a potential IAF strike on Iranian WMD facilities. Seems that there have been some issues raised from different arenas. So this gives me a chance to delve a bit deeper and expound on some of my points. Obviously, any US military strike would hopefully include Navy Air, Tomahawk SLBM, Marine Aviation and possible SEAL insertion. In the interest of brevity I could not go into every single potential strike package on the National Review site. The thesis of my original post was that the world at large is counting on the Israelis to eradicate the WORLD'S problem, rather than dealing with the problem themselves. This includes Russia, China, Western Europe and the United States. The Israeli Air Force has only 2-3 Squadrons of F-16 and F-15 Is and Block 50s. The Iranians have at least 30-40 known WMD sites. In the interest of OpSec- all of this sandtable analysis is utilizing publically available information, and nothing that I know about from my Pentagon job. So you will have 36 IAF Strike Aircraft having to take out around 40 weapons sites. And that is not counting the Iranian SAM, Iranian radar,Iranian airbases and aircraft(even though they are obsolete F-4s and some French/Iraqi equipment they still have to be taken out). Now, of course the IAF is vastly superior to the Iranian Air Force and can win air superiority and air supremacy relatively quickly. But we are talking about 3-4 squadrons having to fly thousands of miles EACH WAY. Then fight against well sited air defenses, strike hardened targets with no collateral damage, and then fly all the way back. Returning over at least 2 or 3 Arab countries, and over a country where the US Air Force is conducting daily operations. Anyone who thinks that one strike on Natanz is going to do the trick is fooling themselves. We would need a squadron of B-52s to level much of the Isfahan plant to really knock it offline for more than a year or two. Dropping two bombs on the reactor is not going to even significantly slow down the Iranian drive to acquire enriched uranium and fissile material. This is not another raid on Osirak like the IAF launched in 1981. To seriously damage the Iranians, we would need to annihilate their Air Force, radar stations, Naval targets (Silkworm missile sites included), and surface to surface ballistic missile sites which would be launched against Israeli targets in retaliation. Iran has an entire industrial base supporting their military and WMD, and these would have to be hit as well. We are talking about a LOT of targets across a country the size of France. You can't just snap your fingers and drop a few bombs and call it a day. That is why I hold to the position that the United States Air Force has a better chance of damaging the Mullahs drive to go nuclear. We have the logistics (based in Afghanistan, Iraq, Krgyzstan and Turkey). We have the payload capable platforms: B-1s out of Guam, B-52s out of Alaska, tactical strike aircraft off of our carriers and airfields at Balad, Ali, etc. There have been a hundred articles positing the theory that even the USAF and associated military pieces can not be successful at stopping Teheran. I don't believe that to be the case, but it does show the obstacles that exist in depending upon a country of 7 million citizens dealing with an Iran of nearly 50 million citizens.