On January 25th, the Iranian Army’s ground forces launched a massive military drill to showcase their rapid deployment capabilities.
The two-day Eghtedar 97 exercise in the Isfahan province were inaugurated by Brigadier General Kiomars Heidari, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Force.
“The drill is aimed at assessing new structural changes to the Army’s ground forces with over 12,000 forces participating to exercise state-of-the-art offensive tactics,” PressTV reported.
Armored vehicles, artillery units, rapid reaction forces, mechanized infantry, electronic warfare, telecommunications and UAVs were deployed for the drills.
“In these drills we will showcase two important developments: a special-forces rapid deployment battalion and a highly mobile offensive armored battalion,” General Heidari said.
Heidari said the drills would delight Iran’s allies while warning aggressors that they would face a “rapid and crushing blow.”
Also on January 25th, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi reacted strongly to comments by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian regarding sanctions related to Iran’s missile program.
“Iran’s military capabilities are part of the country’s legitimate defense power and a guarantor of the Islamic Republic’s national security, which is based on the doctrine of deterrence,” Qassemi said.
“The Islamic Republic has designed its defense capabilities based on a realistic assessment of the existing threats,” he said, further claiming that the country could strengthen its missile capabilities to the extend it deems needed.
“Iran’s missile capability is not negotiable, and this has been brought to the attention of the French side during the ongoing political dialogue between Iran and France,” he said.
Qassemi said that the calls for sanctions on Iran’s missile program goes against the spirit of political conversations and cooperation between the two countries.
“Iran has always sought to consolidate peace and stability in the region, and believes the mass sale of sophisticated and assault weapons by the US and some European countries, including France, has undermined regional stability and balance,” he said.
On January 27th, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said that the Iranian military would adopt offensive tactics whenever they decide they are necessary.
“There is, among the country’s broad strategies, a defensive strategy — we defend the independence and territorial integrity and national interests of the country,” Maj. Gen. Baqeri said. “This, however, does not mean that we would be acting exclusively defensively and passively in our operational-level and tactical approaches.”
He said Iran did not have any intention of seizing foreign territory or harming foreign interests, yet, “to protect our national achievements and interests, we may adopt an offensive approach.”
“If someone sought to violate our country, if signs and evidence [of such aggression] were detected, the Islamic Republic would not be sitting idly by so that the nation’s interests and the country’s calm are endangered,” Baqeri said.
Brigadier General Kiomars Heidari also commented on the capabilities of the Iranian army. He said that the Iranian military didn’t need asymmetric warfare in defense any longer.
“To protect the Islamic homeland, Iran’s Armed Forces no longer need the asymmetric approach, and we are at a stage where we can defend our homeland and the establishment using a good offensive approach,” he added.
The “offensive” component in Iran’s defensive strategy was presented for the first time during the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ massive exercises in the Persian Gulf in December 2018. The Great Prophet 12 drill, according to IRGC chief General Mohammad Ali Jafari served its purpose and that Iranians “hope the enemies have more than ever grasped the power of our response.”
“This was a response to allegations made by the enemies who should know that the defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are deterrent, and as the Eminent Leader [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] has said, ‘if they try to hit us once, they will definitely be hit 10 times more’,” Jafari said.
All of this follows a recent flare up in relations between Israel and Iran. With both sides making their rhetoric more harsh and Israel claiming that it repeatedly struck Iranian targets in Syria.
On January 26th, Aliya and Integration Minister Yoav Gallant said that “The State of Israel has a plan to expel the Iranians from Syria,” Gallant said. “Israel is using intelligence, diplomatic, security, and military components.”
These exchanges with Israel are highly likely why Iran has been boasting its defensive and now offensive prowess over the last few weeks.
PressTV also reported that Iran maintains that its military power is solely for deterrence and does not threaten any country. The country also claims it has made significant progress in its military technology in recent years.