MESOP NEWS INDEPTH : Iranian concepts of warfare: Understanding Tehran’s evolving military doctrines

February 2017 –   J. Matthew McInnis –  Key points

  • The year 2016 appears to be an inflection point at which Iran recognized its need to move toward a more conventionally offensive and expansionist concept of warfare. This could include foreign bases and air, land, and sea power projection capabilities.
  • Despite this shift, Iran still primarily focuses military doctrine on defense, deterrence, and asymmetric warfare because they remain both hindered by weak offensive military capability and driven by high perceptions of threat from the US and regional adversaries.
  • New resources from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and future United Nations weapons sanctions relaxation may encourage further expansion into conventional offensive capabilities. However, threat perceptions, particularly from potential clashes with regional rivals or direct conflict with the US, will be the more dominant factor in the extent to which Iran reorients toward offensive warfare.

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