William M. Arkin, author of Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operations in the 9/11 World, wrote in the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post that at least since early 2003 the U.S. military has been planning for an attack on Iran. -- That was when it undertook an "analysis, called TIRANNT, for 'theater Iran near term,' [which] was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for 'major combat operations' against Iran that military sources confirm now exists in draft form." -- " Under TIRANNT," Arkin wrote, "Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change." -- William Arkin is not an anti-war writer: he endorses the belief that Iran is engaged in the "illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons," approves planning for aggressive war, and accepts that the "United States is now a first-strike nation"; Arkin thinks such plans out to be acknowledged publicly as a way of influencing Iranian leaders. -- According to Arkin, " Iran controls the two basic triggers that could set off U.S. military action. The first would be its acquisition of nuclear capability in defiance of the international community. . . . The second trigger would be Iran's lashing out militarily (or through proxy terrorism) at the United States or its allies, or closing the Strait of Hormuz to international oil traffic." -- In his Apr. 13 blog entry to which Arkin's article refers, he wrote that at the Pentagon there has been a shift of "the bulk of planning from almost exclusive focus on Iraq to Iran." -- Unmentioned in his Apr. 16 piece but described in his Apr. 13 blog is the "Toy Study," which stands for TIRANNT Out-Year, positing a U.S.-Iran war in the year 2011. -- "Under the TOY modeling effort, Army division-sized formations as currently organized are sent up against real world models of Iranian ground units. . . . The product gauges not only the impact of military 'transformation' efforts in the Army but also the most propitious timing for war." -- There is also a "2015 timeframe" "extremely complex Caspian Sea scenario [that] has become the standard non-Asian platform for education, training, and force development in the Army," Arkin said....
THE PENTAGON PREPS FOR IRAN
By William M. Arkin
April 16, 2006
Does the United States have a war plan for stopping Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons?
Last week, President Bush dismissed news reports that his administration has been working on contingency plans for war -- particularly talk of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against Tehran -- as "wild speculation." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld chimed in, calling it "fantasyland." He declared to reporters that "it just isn't useful" to talk about contingency planning.
But the secretary is wrong.
It's important to talk about war planning that's real. And it is for Iran. In early 2003, even as U.S. forces were on the brink of war with Iraq, the Army had already begun conducting an analysis for a full-scale war with Iran. The analysis, called TIRANNT, for "theater Iran near term," was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass de struction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for "major combat operations" against Iran that military sources confirm now exists in draft form.
None of this activity has been disclosed by the U.S. military, and when I wrote about Iran contingency planning last week on the Washington Post web site [see #2 below], the Pentagon stuck to its dogged position that "we don't discuss war plans." But it should.
The diplomatic effort directed at Iran would be mightily enhanced if that country understood that the United States is so serious about deterring the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons that it would be willing to go to war to stop that quest from reaching fruition.
Iran needs to know -- and even more important, the American public needs to know -- that no matter how many experts talk about difficult-to-find targets or the catastrophe that could unfold if war comes, military planners are already working hard to minimize the risks of any military operation. This is the very essence of contingency planning.
I've been tracking U.S. war planning, maintaining friends and contacts in that closed world, for more than 20 years. My one regret in writing about this secret subject, especially because the government always claims that revealing anything could harm U.S. forces, is not delving deeply enough into the details of the war plan for Iraq. Now, with Iran, it's once again difficult but essential to piece together the facts.
Here's what we know now. Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.
The core TIRANNT effort began in May 2003, when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran. TIRANNT has since been updated using post-Iraq war information on the performance of U.S. forces. Meanwhile, Air Force planners have modeled attacks against existing Iranian air defenses and targets, while Navy planners have evaluated coastal defenses and drawn up scenarios for keeping control of the Strait of Hormuz at the base of the Persian Gulf.
A follow-on TIRANNT Campaign Analysis, which began in October 2003, calculated the results of different scenarios for action against Iran to provide options for analyzing courses of action in an updated Iran war plan. According to military sources close to the planning process, this task was given to Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, now commander of CENTCOM, in 2002.
The Marines, meanwhile, have not only been involved in CENTCOM's war planning, but have been focused on their own specialty, "forcible entry." In April 2003, the Corps published its "Concept of Operations" for a maneuver against a mock country that explores the possibility of moving forces from ship to shore against a determined enemy without establishing a beachhead first. Though the Marine Corps enemy is described only as a deeply religious revolutionary country named Karona, it is -- with its Revolutionary Guards, WMD, and oil wealth -- unmistakably meant to be Iran.
Various scenarios involving Iran's missile force have also been examined in another study, initiated in 2004 and known as BMD-I (ballistic missile defense -- Iran). In this study, the Center for Army Analysis modeled the performance of U.S. and Iranian weapons systems to determine the number of Iranian missiles expected to leak through a coalition defense.
The day-to-day planning for dealing with Iran's missile force falls to the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha. In June 2004, Rumsfeld alerted the command to be prepared to implement CONPLAN 8022, a global strike plan that includes Iran. CONPLAN 8022 calls for bombers and missiles to be able to act within 12 hours of a presidential order. The new task force, sources have told me, mostly worries that if it were called upon to deliver "prompt" global strikes against certain targets in Iran under some emergency circumstances, the president might have to be told that the only option is a nuclear one.
Contingency planning for a bolt-out-of-the-blue attack, let alone full-fledged war, against Iran may seem incredible right now. But in the secretive world of military commands and war planners, it is an everyday and unfortunate reality. Iran needs to understand that the United States isn't hamstrung by a lack of options. It needs to realize that it can't just stonewall and evade its international obligations, that it can't burrow further underground in hopes that it will "win" merely because war is messy.
On the surface, Iran controls the two basic triggers that could set off U.S. military action. The first would be its acquisition of nuclear capability in defiance of the international community. Despite last week's bluster from Tehran, the country is still years away from a nuclear weapon, let alone a workable one. We may have a global strike war plan oriented toward attacking countries with weapons of mass destruction, but that plan is also focused on North Korea, China, and presumably Russia. The Bush administration is not going to wait for a nuclear attack. The United States is now a first-strike nation.
The second trigger would be Iran's lashing out militarily (or through proxy terrorism) at the United States or its allies, or closing the Strait of Hormuz to international oil traffic. Sources say that CENTCOM and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have developed "flexible deterrent options" in case Iran were to take such actions.
One might ask how these options could have any deterrent effect when the government won't talk about them. This is another reason why Rumsfeld should acknowledge that the United States is preparing war plans for Iran -- and that this is not just routine. It is specifically a response to that country's illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons, its meddling in Iraq and its support for international terrorism.
Iran needs to know that the administration is dead serious. But we all need to know that even absent an Iranian nuke or an Iranian attack of any kind, there is still another catastrophic scenario that could lead to war.
In a world of ready war plans and post-9/11 jitters, there is an ever greater demand for intelligence on the enemy. That means ever greater risks taken in collecting that intelligence. Meanwhile, war plans demand that forces be ready in certain places and on alert, while the potential for WMD necessitates shorter and shorter lead times for strikes against an enemy. So the greater danger now is of an inadvertent conflict, caused by something like the shooting down of a U.S. spy plane, by the capturing of a Special Operations or CIA team, or by nervous U.S. and Iranian forces coming into contact and starting to shoot at one another.
The war planning process is hardly neutral. It has subtle effects. As militaries stage mock attacks, potential adversaries become presumed enemies. Over time, contingency planning transforms yesterday's question marks into today's seeming certainty.
--William M. Arkin writes the Early Warning blog for washingtonpost.com and is the author of Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operations in the 9/11 World (Steerforth Press).
DESPITE DENIALS, U.S. PLANS FOR IRAN WAR
By William M. Arkin
April 13, 2006
http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/earlywarning/2006/04/despite_denials.html#more (registration required)
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has been conducting theater campaign analysis for a full scale war with Iran since at least May 2003, responding to Pentagon directions to prepare for potential operations in the "near term."
The campaign analysis, called TIRANNT, for "theater Iran near term," posits an Iraq-like maneuver war between U.S. and Iranian ground forces and incorporates lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In addition to the TIRANNT effort and the Marine Corps Karona invasion scenario I discussed yesterday, the military has also completed an analysis of Iran's missile force (the "BMD-I" study), the Defense Intelligence Agency has updated "threat data" for Iranian forces, and Air Force planners have modeled attacks against "real world" Iranian air defenses and targets to establish new metrics. What is more, the United States and Britain have been conducting war games and contingency planning under a Caspian Sea scenario that could also pave the way for northern operations against Iran.
After new reports of intensified planning for Iran began to circulate over the weekend, the President dismissed the news as "wild speculation."
On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld similarly called media speculation about Iran war planning as "fantasyland."
Asked at a Pentagon new conference whether he had in recent days, weeks or month, asked the Joint Staff or CENTCOM to "update, refine, [or] modify the contingencies for possible military options against Iran," Rumsfeld said: "We have I don't know how many various contingency plans in this department. And the last thing I'm going to do is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan, and why. It just isn't useful."
I beg to differ, Mr. Secretary.
World pressure and American diplomacy would be mightily enhanced if Iran understood that the United States was indeed so serious about it acquiring nuclear weapons it was willing to go to war over it. What is more, the American public needs to know that this is a possibility.
Think the U.S. military isn't serious about war with Iran?
Since at least 2003, in response to a number of directives from Secretary Rumsfeld and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, the military services and Pentagon intelligence agencies have been newly working on a number of "near term" and "near-year" Iranian contingency studies in support of CENTCOM war planning efforts.
These studies, war games, and modeling efforts have been the first step in shifting the bulk of planning from almost exclusive focus on Iraq to Iran. At CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, at Army and Air Force CENTCOM support headquarters in Georgia and South Carolina, and at service analysis and operations research organizations like the Center for Army Analysis at Fort Belvoir (thanks readers for correcting me), a monumental effort has been underway to "build" an Iran country baseline for war planning.
Under the TIRANNT campaign analysis program, Army organizations, together with CENTCOM headquarters planners, have been examining both near term and "out year" scenarios for war with Iran, covering all aspects of a major combat operation from mobilization and deployment of forces through post-war "stability" operations after regime change.
The core TIRANNT effort itself began in May 2003, when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data sets needed for theater level (large scale) scenario analysis in support of updated war plans. Successive iterations of TIRANTT efforts have updated "blue" (United States), "green" (coalition), and "threat" databases with post-Iraq war information.
The follow-on TIRANNT Campaign Analysis (TIRANNT-CA), which began in October 2003, has calculated the results of different campaign scenarios against Iran to provide options for "courses of action" analysis. According to military sources close to the planning process, in 2002-2003, the CENTCOM commander, Gen. John Abizaid was directed to develop a new "strategic concept" for Iran war planning and potential courses of action for Secretary of Defense and Presidential review.
Parallel with the TIRANNT and TIRANNT-CA analysis, Army and CENTCOM planners have also been undertaking the "TOY study." TOY stands for TIRANNT Out-Year, and posits a U.S.-Iran war in the year 2011. Under the TOY modeling effort, Army division-sized formations as currently organized are sent up against real world models of Iranian ground units. The results are compared to the same engagements when fought by newly reorganized Army brigade combat teams who fight independent of a strict divisional hierarchy. The product gauges not only the impact of military "transformation" efforts in the Army but also the most propitious timing for war.
Under a separate "BMD-I study," for ballistic missile defense -- Iran, the Army Concepts Analysis Agency has modeled the performance of U.S. and Iranian weapon systems to determine the number of missiles expected to "leak through" a coalition missile defense in the 2005 (current) time frame. The BMD-I study has not only looked at U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missile performance and optimum placement to protect U.S. and coalition forces, but also the results of combined air, cyber warfare and missile defense operations to disable Iranian command and control capabilities and missiles on the ground before Iran can fire them.
In July 2004, U.S. and British Army planners also met at Fort Belvoir to play the Hotspur 2004 war game, a 2015 timeframe Caspian Sea scenario examining deployment of forces, movement to "contact" with the enemy, and "decisive" operations. A U.K. medium weight brigade operated subordinate to U.S. forces and the game included an assessment of lessons learned in U.S.-British interoperability during similar operations in southern Iraq.
The extremely complex Caspian Sea scenario has become the standard non-Asian platform for education, training, and force development in the Army. The current 2005 "high resolution" version model provides analysts with the ability to manipulate thousands of entities using tens of thousands of combat orders to simulate all aspects of major combat operations. The scenario not only has variable "physical battlespace" including urban terrain, but an adaptive enemy, allowing analysis of not just standard military operations but also complex counter-insurgency activity.
In February 2005, after a similar flurry of news reporting on U.S. military options for Iran, the Deputy Commander of CENTCOM Lt. Gen. Lance Smith was asked at a Pentagon briefing if the Tampa based command was in any kind of heightened state of planning when it comes to Iran.
"We plan everything," Smith responded. "We have a requirement on a regular basis to update plans. We try to keep them current, particularly if -- you know, if our region is active. But I haven't been called into any late-night meetings at, you know, 8:00 at night, saying, 'Holy cow, we got to sit down and go plan for Iran.'"
Throughout mid-2002, when a similar public debate about an Iraq war plan swirled in the news, Secretary Rumsfeld, Myers, and then CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks insisted that there were no "war plans," that they hadn't been asked to prepare a war plan, that no decisions had been made, that no war plan sat on the President's desk.
It would take a doctoral dissertation to wade through the chronology of statements and actions to sort out the specifics of the truth, but here is the reality: Iraq war planning consumed the government inner circle all through this period and the government made a knee jerk decision -- never really thoughtfully reviewed -- not to speak about it. "We don't discuss war plans," the mantra goes. And it is dead wrong.
Maybe history will show that the Bush administration was so hell-bent on war in 2002-2003, nothing that Saddam Hussein could have done would have prevented it. Still, the world went through the motions of U.N. inspections and the Security Council and the U.S. Congress made decisions based upon the illusion that war could still be averted, that all diplomatic options would be exhausted before the decision to go to war was made.
We now also know that the Iraqis themselves didn't quite believe that the United States was serious about regime change and that it would go all the way. Perhaps, though, had the United States candidly stated its intentions rather than spending so much time denying reality, Baghdad would have gotten the message and war would have been averted, perhaps in another time and place.
It seems today we face a similar problem with Iran. The President of the United States insists that all options are on the table while the Secretary of Defense insists it "isn't useful" to discuss American options.
I think this sends the wrong message to Tehran. Contingency planning for a full-fledged war with Iran may seem incredible right now, and Iran isn't Iraq. But Iran needs to understand that the United States isn't hamstrung by a lack of options, Iran needs to know that it can't just stonewall and evade international inspections, that it can't burrow further underground in hopes of "winning" because war is messy.
As I've said before in these pages, I don't believe that the United States is planning to imminently attack Iran, and I specifically don't think so because Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons and it hasn't lashed out militarily against anyone.
But the United States military is really, really getting ready, building war plans and options, studying maps, shifting its thinking.
It is not in our interests to have Tehran not understand this. The military options currently on the table might not be good ones, but Iran shouldn't make decisions based upon a false view. Two so-called "experts" are quoted in the Washington Post today saying that there are no options, that there is no Plan B, that the United States will just live with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. They are fundamentally wrong about the options, and misunderstand the Bush administration as well.
But most important, this constant drum beat in the newspapers and the media sends the wrong message to Iran. This is why Secretary Rumsfeld should be saying that the U.S. is preparing war plans for Iran, and that the United States views the situation so seriously that it would be willing to risk war if Iran acquired nuclear weapons or lashed out against the U.S. or its friends. The war planning moreover, Rumsfeld needs to add, is not just routine, it is not just what military's do all the time. It is specifically related to Iran, to its illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons, to its meddling in Iraq and support for international terrorism.
Iran needs to know the facts and the American public need to know the facts. But most important, the American public needs to hear the facts about American war plans, military options, and preparedness from the government so that they can understand where we are and decide whether they think the threat from Iran justifies the risks of another war.