Iran's Military Doctrine
- The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) was a defining moment for the Iranian military and it continues to underpin many aspects of Iranian military doctrine.
- Iranian military planners are adept at incorporating lessons from other conflicts, such as the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, to refine their own doctrines and strategies.
- To challenge a technologically superior adversary, such as the United States, Iranian doctrine emphasizes aspects of asymmetric warfare that play to Iran’s strengths, including geography, strategic depth and public willingness to accept casualties.
- The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the branch of the Iranian military tasked with protecting the Islamic revolution, is undergoing a major restructuring to enhance its survivability and give regional commanders more flexibility to respond to potential threats.
- Iranian military doctrine is primarily defensive in nature and based on deterring perceived adversaries. Iran is therefore unlikely to seek a direct, force-on-force confrontation with the United States.
- However, there is ample room for miscommunication between Iranian and U.S. forces at the tactical and operational levels. The recent push to decentralize command and control within the IRGC could have unintended consequences in terms of escalation, especially in the Persian Gulf.
- For the foreseeable future, lack of coordination between the IRGC and the Artesh is likely to remain a key weak point in terms of Iranian military planning, due to underlying structural issues and institutional rivalries.
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