Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Haiku of OSINT for 01/18/12

Software theft at Fed
Cyber crime or something more?
China has banks too

Friday, January 13, 2012

U.S. Calls Iran's Bluff In Strait Of Hormuz

I covered U.S.-Iranian tensions in a recent blog post.  It is obvious that the U.S. has the strategic upper hand and is taking pains to ensure Iran's leadership understands the situation.  Stated concerns over a "rogue Iranian naval officer" doing something unpredictable are probably a red herring to cover the U.S. naval posture.

The U.S. is also taking pains to shape the information battlespace.  Stories about using dolphins to hunt underwater mines show off a capability Iran lacks.  Feel-good stories about saving Iranian seaman hijacked by pirates send a strong message that the Iranian navy can't even safeguard its own commercial traffic.  Analysts enamored with Iran's potential use of Sunburn or other anti-ship missiles ignore the U.S. Navy's Rolling Airframe Missile.  The SeaRAM system is notable for its absence from recent media coverage.  The silence speaks volumes.  Iran should hear the message.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cold Conflict Between U.S. And Iran

Tensions in the Persian Gulf are slightly higher than normal at the moment.  The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq is complete and nature abhors a vacuum.  Iran's naval exercises are an effort to buttress the regional influence it has gained in Iraq.

The U.S. is countering Iran with diplomatic and economic actions rather than military confrontation.  U.S. economic sanctions are forcing down the value of Iranian currency, which will immediately hurt the buying power of Iranian consumers.  Iran is fighting back with a hollow threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz and cause an oil price spike.  That would be suicidal for Iran because most of its oil is produced in Khuzestan province and must transit the Strait of Hormuz to get to Asian markets.  The U.S. recognizes Iran's strategic weakness and likely relishes the pain its actions inflict upon Iran as retaliation for the capture of an RQ-170 drone.  Iran presently presents rhetoric and not aggression because it has not yet exhausted its financial reserves.

The CNN news item linked above about the Strait threat briefly mentions the relative percentage of GDP the U.S. and Iran commit to their military budgets.  That is an amateurish analysis.  Relative force arrays and capabilities each side brings to bear in the Strait of Hormuz are much more relevant.  Iran's navy cannot match a U.S. naval carrier battle group in a direct confrontation.  The last direct U.S.-Iranian naval encounter, Operation Praying Mantis, was a limited engagement but ended in a lopsided victory for the U.S.  Iran would thus need to rely upon standoff weapon systems in any effort to neutralize U.S. warships.  Iran may possess some number of Sunburn anti-ship missiles or other similar systems.  It would thus be imperative for U.S. national reconnaissance efforts to locate all of Iran's potential missile launch platforms and designate them as preplanned targets prior to hostilities.  The U.S. has outstanding ISR capabilities; Iran's comparable ISR is questionable, with or without a purloined RQ-170.

The U.S. is a responsible world actor.  Its Navy is professional enough to monitor Iran's declared military exercises from international waters without provoking a reaction.  Iran is not nearly as mature.  Any miscalculation that risks open hostilities is much more likely from Iran, given its economic deprivation and relative weakness, than from the U.S.