Iran began large scale military exercises today in the Gulf, including the Strait of Hormuz, according to Iranian television. Tehran routinely threatens to halt all traffic in the Gulf if attacked. Could they do it? Only temporarily, Joint Chiefs vice chair Marine Gen. James Cartwright told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.
He pointed out that if they closed the straits, Iran would in essence be strangling itself as it’s so dependent on both exporting oil and importing most everything. Even if they tried, “We believe we could keep them open,” Cartwright said.
The official assessment of Iran’s military was provided by military intelligence chief Lt. Gen Ronald Burgess and can be found here. It runs through Iran’s weapons holdings; nothing too impressive there, apart for some progress on the ballistic missile front. Iran’s conventional weapons inventory is old and worn out.
Iran’s paramilitary forces, including the Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force, would make for a formidable adversary, Burgess said, if defending its home turf. The Qods’ global activities are the more worrisome, including significant support to Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Another Pentagon assessment of Iranian military power surfaced this week, the unclassified version of a congressionally mandated report. It can be found below the jump. It provides a bit more detail on weapons holdings and manpower than the official DIA report (much of the Iranian force structure is unknown; in fact the report quotes defense spending from the well known 2010 Military Balance), but, as would be expected, its essentially the same report.