Iran Attack Highlights US Missile Defense Vulnerability

 In Iran, GDI, Defense, Air, Iraq

Iran Attack Highlights US Missile Defense Vulnerability (excerpt)

(Source: Federation for Defense of Democracies; posted Jan 13, 2020)

The Iranian regime fired 16 bal­lis­tic mis­siles into Iraq on Jan. 8 at bases hous­ing American troops. With no bal­lis­tic mis­sile inter­cep­tors in range, U.S. forces could only watch and wait for impact. While no American or coali­tion part­ners were killed in the attack, next time could be dif­fer­ent.

Iran launched its mis­siles from three sites in Iran, with 11 strik­ing a base in Ain al-Asad and one hit­ting a base in Erbil. The lack of casu­al­ties should not lull plan­ners into a false sense of secu­ri­ty. A closer look at the attack demon­strates the need for addi­tion­al bal­lis­tic mis­sile inter­cept capac­i­ty.

Why did Tehran pick these tar­gets? Since Qassem Soleimani was killed in Iraq, the idea of strik­ing U.S. forces in Iraq was almost cer­tain­ly appeal­ing to Iranian lead­ers. Additionally, for domes­tic con­sump­tion, Iran’s lead­er­ship wanted to present dra­mat­ic images of the Iranian mil­i­tary launch­ing a bar­rage of bal­lis­tic mis­siles toward U.S. troops.

But Iran may have chosen Ain al-Asad and Erbil specif­i­cal­ly because the bases lacked bal­lis­tic mis­siles defens­es. Images of American defens­es destroy­ing the incom­ing Iranian mis­siles would have severe­ly under­cut Tehran’s polit­i­cal objec­tives for the attack.

By cre­at­ing a risk of inter­cep­tion, American mis­sile defens­es not only pro­tect American lives, they com­pli­cate adver­sary mil­i­tary plan­ning by inject­ing addi­tion­al oper­a­tional con­straints, unknown vari­ables and polit­i­cal risk. In short, robust U.S. mis­sile defens­es direct­ly under­mine our adver­saries’ invest­ments in mis­siles.

Yet, while the U.S. has defense sys­tems capa­ble of pro­tect­ing the bases at Ain al-Asad and Erbil, the bases remained vul­ner­a­ble because the U.S. lacks suf­fi­cient bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense inter­cept capac­i­ty. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the FDD web­site.

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U.S. Troops Describe ‘Miraculous’ Escape At Iraqi Base Attacked by Iran (excerpt)

(Source: Reuters; pub­lished Jan. 13, 2020)

By John Davison

AIN AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — Troops at the Iraqi air base that bore the brunt of Iran’s first direct mis­sile attack against U.S. forces said they were shocked by its inten­si­ty and grate­ful to emerge unscathed.

The scale of the damage at the Ain al-Asad base showed Iran’s destruc­tive capa­bil­i­ty at a time when U.S. offi­cials say they are still con­cerned that Iran-backed groups across the region could wage attacks on the United States.

“It’s mirac­u­lous no one was hurt,” Lt Col Staci Coleman, the U.S. air force offi­cer who runs the air­field, told reporters on Monday at the vast base deep in the west­ern Anbar desert in Iraq, where 1,500 Americans were deployed.

“Who thinks they’re going to have bal­lis­tic mis­siles launched at them … and suffer no casu­al­ties?”

CNN’s Arwa Damon was the first jour­nal­ist to access Al-Asad US mil­i­tary base in Anbar province, Iraq, fol­low­ing an Iranian bal­lis­tic mis­sile attack. Soldiers recount­ed their actions during the attack and shared their feel­ings of trauma in the after­math.

The Jan. 8 attack came hours after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States should expect retal­i­a­tion over the U.S. killing of Iranian mil­i­tary com­man­der Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq the pre­vi­ous week.

The killing raised fears of a new Middle East war, but the United States, Iraq and other coun­tries with troops at the base said no one was hurt. U.S. mil­i­tary lead­ers have said that was thanks to com­man­ders on the ground, not Tehran’s good­will.

At one site, a cruise mis­sile had left a large crater and incin­er­at­ed living quar­ters made from ship­ping con­tain­ers. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Reuters web­site.

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Source: Defense Aerospace

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