Friday, July 17, 2015

The Jade Helm Iran Theory

With an Iran-Nuke deal in the news, it only makes sense that the mysterious* Jade Helm military exercise would be linked somehow to it. In this case they take the map, rotate it slightly in photo-shop, and add country names that kinda-sorta correspond to the geographical locations of the named countries. InfoWars, which had been convinced that Jade Helm was a cover for martial law, the invasion of Texas, and some imaginary giant tunnels under Walmarts (with Bluebell Ice cream thrown in for added hysteria) thinks that (a) the countries' terrain corresponds roughly to the nations listed and (b) the exercise natures (battle zones) seem to maybe make sense.

InfoWars links to some video of someone saying there was a plan to "take out" countries all over the middle east. You can watch the whole thing here.

Does This Make Sense?

In a word, no--not really. One of the theories (first link in article) suggests that maybe it's for special forces moving in to take out nukes. That kinda makes sense: Jade Helm involves special forces operating amongst civilian locals undetected. This is the sort of thing one would need to do in order to infiltrate, find, and destroy nuclear installations or rockets. The problem is that Iran would definitely not see nuclear weapon moved through Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan--so why have that on the map.

Worse, the US Special forces would do a terrible job of passing for Iranians--but will do a good job of passing for American citizens (as they are American citizens). The idea of infiltrating a team into Iran that is supposed to live off the land while hunting nukes is a very, very different kind of training and a vastly different scenario than what Jade Helm represents.

So what about invasion?

The Massive Invasion Scenario

In order to buy this you have to assume that either Obama--in his last year of office--wants to ensure the election of a Republican--any Republican--by launching a mass scale ground invasion of Iran, Syria, and Palestine. This would quickly turn those blue countries red, have us fight with ISIS as well as "Syria" and subject us to some of the Middle East players (Iran, possibly Egypt, and Turkey) who are not pushovers. Invading Iran alone would be massively expensive, hugely costly in terms of blood, and would turn a populace that is more or less friendly against us (the Iranian people are actually pretty pro-American and hailed the deal as a chance for our countries to get closer together).

If we think the trigger for this is Iran getting a bomb, why go through all the trouble of the negotiations: just declare them failed and then you have an 'excuse' to strike (if you want to). It's also hugely unclear what our strategic objective in this invasion would be. We're not just "glassing" the place--presumably we're defeating the Syrian Army so we can oust Assad and then . . . what? Who do we install? We can't find moderates to arm, much less hand over the country to. The lesson from ISIS has been that as bad as Assad and Saddam were--what's waiting behind them is worse.

Other Options

Special Forces do operate undetected in the Middle East today--and have a lot of experience from Afghanistan and Iraq. It isn't inconceivable that part of the training being undertaken is to allow Spec-Ops infiltration against nuclear targets--especially mobile short/intermediate range (enough to reach Israel) missiles. In the Iran-successfully-tests-a-nuke scenario where the treaty has failed and we don't know it until they deploy a nuke to bring about the protection of Israeli-Insured-Destruction if Israel's response was to launch the fighters immediately hoping for a glass-the-region first-strike, we would probably like the option of targeted destruction of any mobile nuclear launchers.

That's feasible--but it's unlikely we'd train like Jade Helm for that. Firstly Jade Helm is a combined agency exercise--a few hit-teams in Iran wouldn't qualify for that support or interaction (maybe CIA assets in the area--if we have any--but that's very different). Secondly the scope of the exercise is much larger than a stop-the-launch-at-all-costs scenario. In short, it seems very unlikely that this training has a specific purpose or that it aligns concretely with today's headlines.

Conclusions on Jade Helm

Jade Helm is a pretty ambitious training exercise--but it is not sinister. It likely underscores how special operations forces are now in heavy usage in every theater of war. We rely and utilize these forces far more than we did historically and therefore tighter integration is required with other agencies and the forces are expected to spend far more time deployed in ambiguous situations. The kind of training Jade Helm provides is useful across a wide variety of scenarios--it doesn't have to apply to a specific one.

The second thing that most people don't get is that Iran is a very, very different animal than Afghanistan or Iraq. So, for that matter, is Syria. If we attacked Syria we could be in a proxy war with Russia (and that's closer than you might think). Plus we'd be "aiding ISIS." Attacks on Iran, similarly, would provoke a nearly catastrophic chain of events. Their proxies would undoubtedly attack Israel and other US allies in the area. Their nuclear infrastructure is is well enough protected that bombing alone is probably not sufficient to destroy it--it's deep under mountains and penetrators only go so far. Iran is sophisticated too. They have near-state-of-the-art missile technology, smart nuclear scientists, and an army that is willing to fight (unlike Iraq's). A battle with them would be incredibly expensive. It would be destabilizing everywhere. While we could "win" the cost would be huge and it would not be like the Iraq invasion where relatively few causalities were taken.

In short, a massive invasion of Iran would be something that would be planned only if we felt certain they were about to build and deploy a nuke. We wouldn't train for it--we'd have to just go and do it. Knocking them over for the heck of it is movie-thinking.

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