John Bolton has never met a war he didn’t like. Except for his participation in Vietnam, where he dodged the draft. As we will discuss in Part 2, there is another war he would rather ignore-that over our southern border. In the meantime, every wrong he sees in the world is the fault of Iran. The Beltway has a traffic jam? Iranians. Gas prices are high? Iranians. ISIS? Iranians. No more Bruce Jenner Wheaties boxes? Iranians. Mean comments against the U.S.? All made by Iranians, every single one of them. In the mind of John Bolton, that is.
It appears John Bolton is manufacturing a new Iranian threat, which happily coincides with naval deployments to the region. Some say his manufacturing of evidence isn’t anything new. But would the former, and Bush-era Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, who was responsible for preventing WMD proliferation, lie about a threat to our nation? Rhetorical question.
Leaks say he wants Trump to send 120,000 troops (1/4 of our Army) to the middle east to posture against Iran. His blustering act against Iran is an empty threat. 120,000 is not enough to do anything against Iran, who has the advantage of 500,000+ soldiers, plus terrain and distance from any border to their heartland. The most we can do is freeze assets and sanction them. As you will see below, Bolton’s act hurts the U.S. The rest of the world knows we cant act, especially right now.
If the U.S. had to act, here are the conditions I would accept for a limited intervention:
- An immediate, coordinated air strike against their executive leaders (President/PM/Supreme Leader); the head of its military (and all major Revolutionary Guard outposts)
- A.) Followed by nothing- we leave them alone. or- B). Followed by an offer to the surviving military structure to assist them in “re-forming” their government, and providing aid to them.
- and 2 B). is where we head into insurgency territory. There is no way we can accomplish a regime change in Iran without occupying Tehran, which exposes us to years, if not decades, of insurgency- against the experts
I am presuming Bolton wants a full scale invasion, as long as the leaks are accurate. I presume he envisions Iraq 3.0. After all, the “shock and awe” concept (air strikes until ground force mobilization), despite being coined in 2003, has been recycled material since Desert Storm in 1990. Iran has had 30 years to prepare around our strategy, as well as 16 years of assisting insurgents in Iraq.
So what is it about Bolton that makes him deranged for taking Iran as an immediate threat?
- 7,224 miles between Iran and the United States
- The Army is struggling to meet recruiting standards, especially in the National Guard. If any war does come, the National Guard will form 40-50% of the forces in the combat theater.
- The U.S. still does not have control over Iraq, which we invaded in 2003. It is still an unstable nation.
- ISIS still exists, despite the belief of FOX News Corp. that Trump personally parachuted into Syria, and stabbed the last ISIS fighter with an American flag.
- The U.S. has not defined what victory in Afghanistan looks like. In fact, the U.S. is forced to sue for peace with taliban forces. For a war that has lasted nearly 18 years, the most technologically advanced nation cant beat mountain goat herders.
- We are ramping up a trade war with China.
- China is exerting military pressure against all of its neighbors in the south, and in the Taiwan Strait.
- Our relationship with North Korea is extremely tenuous. China and NK will take advantage of any weakness we have.
- The U.S. Army is increasing the number of soldiers deployed to the Pacific theater, without increasing total force strength. Any deployment to the middle east will severely strain Reserve/National Guard forces, and undermine our commitments elsewhere.
- The U.S. Army is extending its BCT by 2 weeks, and its Infantry OSUT by 8 weeks. This signals that current forces are under-trained. Any conversation with active duty soldiers in combat units will tell you our forces are at an all time low when it comes to morale.
- Lobbing a few missiles and supporting an insurgency against the current government will turn out like Libya and Syria.
- Relationships with major world powers such as Russia and China range from complicated, to frigid, depending on the day.
- Iran is a trade partner with the EU (8.9 billion euros last year). We will not have any European support.
- Our military is more focused on women feeling good about integrating into combat arms units, and lowering the training standards for said units, than developing a force that will have to engage in close quarters combat to kill our enemies.
- The American Public is sick of military interventions.
A war with Iran, especially at this moment in time, is absolutely delusional.
Iran is sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries we cannot pacify. Iran is also proximate to areas of unrest, due to Islam, such as Chechnya. A war with Iran is impossible for us at this point. The U.S. does not have the forces necessary to conduct an invasion. An invasion would take significantly longer than the invasion in Iraq, not counting the time to build up forces. Every second we waste allows the prospective major-league insurgency to prepare.
STRENGTH OF U.S. FORCES
Generally speaking, about 15-20% of the Army serves in combat arms (combat related positions). When we invaded Iraq in 2003, we initially had 177,000 soldiers, plus coalition forces. That number proved to be way too small to pacify/occupy conquered territory, even when coalition forces neared 500,000 soldiers. The U.S. Army had about 30,000 fewer active duty soldiers in March of 2019 than it did in 2003. According to its own vision statement, the Army doesn’t plan on having 500,000 active duty soldiers until 2028. We have more soldiers deployed to Asia and Eastern Europe than we did in 2003 as well. Our global commitments have increased, while our strength has dwindled. Cough Cough Roman empire, cough.
Having what equates to 2/5 of the entire active duty force deployed to one combat theater over-exerted our forces. Deployments were extended, people were “stop-lossed” and prevented from leaving the service, soldiers on active duty were recalled from the Individual Ready Reserves, and the standards for moral waivers had to be ignored to increase recruitment, which led to a reduction in the quality of soldiers, and events such as Abu Ghraib.
The equipment and airframes we used in Iraq and Afghanistan have had tremendous stress and hours placed on them, and they have yet to be replaced. (Fewer planes are ready to fly)(Air Force Readiness). The military simply cannot afford to replace our equipment at a rate that keeps up with a combat tempo. Especially in an environment like Iran, which would require more flight hours and travel due to the longer distance to Tehran.
Iran is a large country, with its major cities located inland. Tehran is 600 miles from its coast. U.S. Forces would have to port in Kuwait, and travel at least 800 miles to occupy Tehran. The terrain will go from rugged mountains, to flat desert. Every mile of supply routes will have to be defended and protected.
Most of the populace is Shiite, and in the rural areas, they will be serious about their faith. The Shiite are the ones we abandoned in the 1990s, and they sure did remember when we came rolling around in 2003.
If we invade Iran, what is to stop the Iranians from immediately kicking up Shiite insurgencies in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East? Nothing. We cant use the Saudis as allies for this very reason, not to mention that their forces wouldn’t help anyways. The middle east will have its next major holy war. U.S. forces would be sandwiched by multiple Shiite insurgencies in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
While the youth in Iran are moderate, and mostly pro west (remember the Obama-era Green Revolution?), they are located in the urban centers (such as Tehran), and would be a non-factor for any conventional campaign.
I am sure I can think of many more reasons why its a bad time to start a conflict in Iran, but I have to end it here for today.
We will discuss the internal security of the United States in Part 2, which will come out at the end of the week.