Iran's Military Forces and Warfighting Capabilities
September 25, 2007
Nations around the world are uncertain and anxious about Iran's intentions in the Middle East and the wider global arena. Its current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made no secret of his opposition to the West, particularly Israel, and his desire to acquire nuclear weapons. However, as Anthony Cordesman and Martin Kleiber point out, Ahmadinejad does not necessarily speak for the Iranian clerical regime, which operates in a cloud of secrecy and also directly controls Iran's military. Given the ambiguous nature of Iran's global objectives, this new study focuses on the tangible aspects of Iran's military forces and takes an objective look at the threats Iran poses to the region and the world. The authors systematically assess each aspect of Iranian military forces from their conventional armies to their asymmetric threat via proxy wars in the region.
Much attention in national security debates is paid to Iran's intentions without first understanding its capabilities. Lacking such a fundamental understanding, much of this speculation tends to be wasted and irrelevant to what could actually happen in the event of a conflict. Cordesman and Kleiber's study provides, in meticulous detail, a basis for understanding the real threat that Iran poses in the Northern Gulf.
Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS. He is also a military analyst for ABC News and a regular contributor to the BBC, NPR, and leading newspapers. Martin Kleiber is a former researcher with the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS.