WASHINGTON — A resurgent Russia is creating an “arc of steel” meant to challenge and confront NATO, a top US naval officer warned Tuesday.
“We are observing the manifestation of a more aggressive, more capable Russian Navy,” Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of US Naval Forces Europe and commander of the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, said in Washington. “It is naval capability focused directly on addressing the perceived advantages of NATO navies. And they are signaling us and warning us that the maritime domain is contested.”
America’s defense budget is roughly 90 times bigger than Iran’s. But Iran has a well-honed strategy of asymmetric warfare.
Indeed, Iran can cause immense harm, analysts say, without ever directly facing off against far superior conventional US forces. Even a few incidents – like mines laid in the Gulf, or Iran’s small-boat swarming tactics against oil tankers or a US Navy ship – could raise fears of insecurity to unacceptably high levels.
It could also have far-reaching economic consequences, including a spike in oil prices, since roughly a third of all seaborne oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz – making it the single most important choke point for oil tankers in the world.
“[Iran’s] final aim is not to physically close [the strait] for too long, but to drive up shipping insurance and other costs to astronomical heights – which is just as good, in terms of economic damage, as the physical closing of the strait,” says a former senior European diplomat who recently finished a six-year tour in Tehran.
“If you are not sure whether you will get hit, or if you get hit not by conventional force but some wild boat that might float around in the sea – or a mine or two – that will create far more insecurity than a battle line where the strait is closed,” he says.
And Iranian harassing tactics are just the start, he adds. Other layers include artillery and rockets stationed at the Strait of Hormuz, Kilo submarines, and mini-submarines from which divers can be sent out to damage ships.
Continue reading article: How Iran could beat up on America’s superior military (Christian Science Monitor)