Is a US invasion of Iran feasible?

“Afghanistan?”
I doubt it. The new government is on pretty good terms with Iran AFAIK. Even if somehow the US could persuade it, Afghanistan is land-locked and I doubt that Pakistan would allow the US to cross its territory in order to invade Iran. There would be other problems too because of the primitive nature of Afghan infrastructure and the relatively large distance to most major Iranian cities from the Afghan border.

Invading is easy. It’s occupying that’s the tricky part.

The proper term for such an operation is a “raid”, not an “invasion”.

“Invasion” implies occupation.

And I keep getting a mental image of human wave attacks.

No, invasion is not feasable, and I hope to high holy hoo-hah somebody’s telling Georgie-Boy that fact.

Posted by adaher:

What could Israel do to prevent Iran from getting nukes?

What part of this hasn’t anyone understood, so far?

I have an idea. Why don’t we leave Iran alone ? In fact, why don’t we leave the entire middle east alone ??? Here we go … pull our forces out of the middle east and stop supporting any one country.<yes, that includes Israel> Then we adopt a free trade policy with every nation in the region. Trading with a country doesn’t mean we have to like them or invite them to dinner, its a business relationship. Treating every country as equals ??? Be fair ??? Say it isn’t so !!!

In my opinion, the only reason for an invasion of Iran by the US is to make Israel happy, and thats not a good enough reason to put our service people in danger. What, Israel is the only country in the region allowed to have nukes and NOT be questioned, inspected, or required to account for their arsenal? Fair is fair, and I think its time for us to consider that maybe IRAN is feeling threatened by nukes in the neighborhood.

That region always has some sort of conflict going on and one thing seems to link them all === Religion. “God said the land is ours” “God wants us to convert and save you … by killing everyone who resists” Enough already. I’d think anyone with a lick of common sense would find the decision to not get involved quite easy. Then again, we are talking about the government.

You’re kidding, right? If not, a little bit of history here:
http://anthonydamato.law.northwestern.edu/Adobefiles/A83c.PDF*

Israel attacked Iraq some 20 odd years ago. They launched an air strike to take out a nuclear reactor capable of making weapons grade plutonium. I would assume they would be able to do something similar today, although I’m sure ramifications would be a bit more extreme considering the tension in the area.

*(this is obviously not the best source, but at least it gives a few minor details at the beginning of the paper, and it was the first site to pop up when I googled. Even though this would not be a good first source to prove this event took place, I can assure you that the author is referring to a real event, of which most of the details about what happened are not in doubt).

here is a better link about the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Nuclear plant:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/7/newsid_3014000/3014623.stm

If the Iraneans are not completely stupid, then they have learned from history and provided the alleged reactor with enough security (e.g. SAMs et near fighter bases).

I was answering a simple question: “What could Israel do?” I thought my answer was a somewhat valid answer.

Anyhow, SAM sites are defeatabe, witness the majority of US military air strikes in the past decade or so. Iraq supposedly had the best air defense system after Israel (IIRC) in the Middle East before Gulf War I, and Bosnia wasn’t exactly undefended (we did lose aircraft, but the majority of missions were successes). The Israli AF is not the US AF, but they have a few toys of their own.

I would argue that the current political rather than the tactical situation is what would keep Israel in check.

That is correct but you compare full scale wars with a single tactical operation.

Taking a couple of machines into enemy territory is different. The machines have to fly very low in order to be invisible to radar (what happened in the Iraq case). Then they are very vulnerable to SAMs.

Flonks, don’t quit your day job to become a military analyst any time soon.

Aircraft are far more vulnerable to SAMs when they are at higher altitudes, not lower. SAMs are useless against a strike package ingressing on the deck.
(The threat from AAA becomes the one to worry about, although of course it can, and would be, dealt with.)

The Israeli Air Force knows how to conduct air operations, to say the very least. They would pre-emptively blind any radars required to mask their attack approach and any Iranian fighters unlucky enough to scramble would be taught a very harsh lesson, very quickly. In no way are we talking about two “evenly matched” opponents here.

Not saying the Israelis are gearing up to do such a thing, or that they should, just that it is WELL within their capabilities.

Don’t worry, I hate everything military, I’d rather throw away all my degrees and, let’s say, work in quality assurance (tester) in a factory which makes suppositories, then doing anything for the military.

OK, now that my level of expertise is clear, perhaps you can also help me out and tell me what AAA is? With a wild guess I would say anti aircraft artillery?

What I wanted to say with my posting, is that, if Israel tries to take out the reactor, it will not start a full scale war. It could, but that would be stupid. Therefore, it can not rely on all the sophisticated support the US had in the Iraq war.

There will be a couple of fighters only, and they will be alone, for political reasons. Already this situation will be tricky enough, from a political point of view. A larger operation will start a war, a small operation will start a war only “perhaps”.

So, the fighters need to fly in low altitude, can we agree on that? Even if they are capable of jamming all Iranean radar, they still give away their presence, so they will fly in low altitude.

And in low altitude there will be some weapons which can be used against whatever aircraft. The Iraneans would be stupid not to protect their reactor in very sophisticated way.

I believe some posters in this thread are erroneously assuming that Khatamis “Reformers” are the “good” guys, while the “Mullahs” are the bad ones. In fact they are both equally opposed to the US, both politically and strategically. Some events could even indicate that the Reformers are more “hardliners” than the Mullahs, who have been pragmatic at times, cooperating with the US. Today, what most clearly separates the two factions is the current discussions in Iran about the need for economic reforms, not foreign policy.

The thruth is that there are no established pro-western minority of any substantial size in Iran today, even though the country have been “Westernizing” during the last decade.

I think the OP is a good one. Nice pointers. Bush has clearly said (in May I think) that if Iran don’t back down and give the inspectors what they want, he will use military force.

It would be much harder than Iraq, but of course the US is superior when it comes down to military forces. Iran could also be under UN sanctions by January, if they miss the October 30th deadline for giving the inspectors what they want. In that case I think the UK will join in, after all, Iran is a much more clear-cut case than Iraq ever was when it comes to terrorism.

As for the launching pad, I have been reading stories about troops and “talks” in Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan (can’t remember) in the north, which could make up one of the launching pads.

“Iran could also be under UN sanctions by January, if they miss the October 30th deadline for giving the inspectors what they want.”
Probably won’t make much of a difference. Iran is probably busy stocking on weapons right now to fight off a possible US attack. Even if sanctions are imposed later it will be a lot better equipped than the Iraqis.

“In that case I think the UK will join in, after all, Iran is a much more clear-cut case than Iraq ever was when it comes to terrorism.”
Possible though I doubt it. Blair’s credibility over Iraq has been severely damaged and I don’t think he will be able to persuade the British public to fight another war.

Turkmenistan or Azerbaizan as launching pads:
I would imagine there would be logistical problems. US forces would have to travel via the Black sea to Georgia and then to Azerbaijan. Alternatively via Turkey and Armenia. To reach Turkmenistan they would have to further cross the Caspian sea. It’s possible I suppose. Anyone with military knowledge care to speculate about the possibility of mounting a full-scale invasion of Iran from these two countries? Of course there is no guarantee those two countries will allow it in the first place. A lot would depend on what Turkey and Russia think, I would imagine.

BTW about Israel’s options, it’s important to note that it wasn’t the attack on Osirak so much as the first Gulf War which prevented the Iraqis from going nuclear. There are several ways of enriching uranium without building big reactors and Iraq was close to having a nuclear weapon at the time of Gulf War 1.

Which is why Israel was one of the first militaries to use RPVs (Remote Piloted Vehicles). They would send one (loaded with EMF sensors) on a flight through the Bekha Valley prior to an air sortie. The RPV would cause all of the radars and microwave guided missile sites to light up and illuminate the drone. Telemetry would send back the cooridinates and broadcast frequencies for the tracking sites.

The incoming attack wave would know every threat location and have all of their jammers pretuned. The ground emplacements did not have enough time to rekey all of their emission frequencies without risking overlap conflicts. Source guided missiles were used to take out any site foolish enough to light up and the Israelis would tend to lose very, very few planes. Why wouldn’t they use a similar technique to neutralize Iranian ground based antiaircraft installations? RPV technology has been improved a hundred fold during the intervening decades. I’m sure they have wing launched, long flight time drones that can do all of this.

I think the photos I linked to earlier make it pretty clear that Iran’s reactor construction is not focused upon power generation.

Yes, I agree. However, I don’t think we’ll see a “out of the blue” decision declared by the Administration, if Bush chooses to invade rather than strike. I project increased PR-efforts from the WH, together with international efforts to impose sanctions on Iran. Somehow “building up to it”, similar to Iraq. Witnessing how the Administration played hardball with Iran in the latest IAEE meeting (totally unprecedented), leads me to question if anything Iran does, short of giving up, would be good enough.

If sanctions are opposed on Iran, and Iran doesn’t cave, the discussion then is if the US will go at it alone, together with a few allies or with a united UN (which hardly can afford to be sidetracked again). Any guesses? I agree that Blair would have a tough sell, but the question is if Europe can allow Iran to have both long range missiles and the big bomb.

As for launching pads, my guess is that there will be troop movements from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a third country to the north. The US already got military bases in Turkmenistan if I’m not mistaken, logistics shouldn’t be to hard. I read a very interesting article about this just last week. Couldn’t find it by first look, I’ll dig some more.

For Israel to hit Iran it would probably have to fly over Iraq (or less likely Turkey). While the US would probably like to turn a blind eye to the attack, to let Israel fly over Iraq it would be giving very tacit support - I am not sure it would be prepared to go that far

I understand that some of the mullahs would actually like the US to make some provocative move, expecting that this would cause enough anger in the population to switch the opinion in their favor and discredit the appeasement policy of the reformists.

FWIW and apropos of this conversation, Ayotollah Khomeini’s grandson:

"The best outcome, he thought, would be a very swift and immediate American invasion of Iran.

It hurt me somewhat to have to tell him that there was scant chance of deliverance coming by this means."
http://slate.msn.com/id/2089329/