Category Archives: PHOTOJOURNALISM
If you’re looking to make a buck but gambling isn’t your cup of tea, a billion-dollar business opportunity awaits you still. The largest for-profit private prison operators in America have a sales pitch, and boy should you hear it.
Corrections Corporation of America is the nation’s largest owner and operator of privatized correctional and detention facilities and one of the largest prison operators in the United States, behind only the federal government and three states. CCA currently owns and operates more than 60 facilities including 44 company-owned facilities, with a design capacity of more than 85,000 beds in 19 states … More >>
The Corrections Corporation of America is the largest private prison company in the US and has only grown in recent years. With over 60 facilities across the United States, the corporation has thousands of detained prisoners within its walls from coast-to-coast. Why should you care, though? Because an investment in the inhumane caging of convicted criminals means more money for you!
The CCA has made available a virtual tour of its Metro Davidson County Detention Facility for potential investors, and it got the editors at Business Insider curious as to what kind of opportunity a little Corrections Corp. stock could serve. After unearthing a slideshow that serves as a sales pitch, the CCA exposes an eye-opening — and indeed worrying — look into not just how the prison industrial complex continues to thrive off of arresting Americans, but at how the prison system in America at large, private or otherwise, is perhaps not as pretty as you even would have imagined.
More and more states are selling off their facilities to private prison companies like CCA, claims the company, and in turn investors are profiting handsomely. Why are the states selling out, though? The CCA suggests that it’s because government just can’t figure out how to manage facilities on their own. As federal prisons are sold off to for-profit companies, the CCA says that the government’s own facilities are in grave condition. In all, argues the CCA, the federal prison system is at around 140 percent of capacity, meaning that not only is the state seeing its inmates subjected to degrading conditions, but investing in public-turned-profit prisons helps see that such facilities are more properly maintained while also practically guaranteeing a sizeable pool of inmates always keeping the building brimming, and thus the investors’ bank accounts.
Does that mean investing in private prisons will help the CCA afford more buy-outs and make conditions better for detainees? Hardly. The CCA is currently in the midst of a sales pitch with 48 state governments in hopes of adding those institutes to their list of facilities, but under a contract exposed by RT last month, those prisons must be able to guarantee at least 90 percent occupancy during the tenure of a contract with the CCA for them to consider the purchase.
While private prisons account for around one-tenth of the jails in America, the CCA has seen the number of facilities under their watch grow in recent years, seeing a 12.4 percent increase in inmate populations in the last four years. As RT reported earlier this year, that wasn’t a feat easy to obtain. As it so happens, the CCA saw $133 million in income between 2006 and 2008, all the while lobbying Congress to the tune of nearly $3 million. As profits have gone up, so have prison populations, though.
According to the CCA, those numbers are only expected to climb higher.
In one slide used in their sales pitch, the CCA says that they operate “in an industry with positive investment characteristics.” For those novices in the field of prison investment, the CCA breaks that down rather thoroughly. Not only does the CCA reveal that they have limited competition, but investing in a prison is one of the few “recession resistant” gambles you can make. So resistant, in fact, is that the CCA says they thrive off of bad economic times. One talking point made in the presentation is that there is a “potential of accelerated growth in inmate populations following the recession.”
The CCA adds that while “state inmate populations are typically negatively impacted during recessions, as customers control population growth through early release, however, inmate population growth historically has accelerated post recession.”
But come on, CCA! How can someone be so sure that investing in the imprisonment of a fellow citizen is a worthwhile bet? Well, they respond, “prison populations should grow as US populations grows,” with around 18.4 million more Americans expected to be added to the overcrowded facilities by 2016. In recent years the federal prison system has seen an influx of prisoners, in part, argues the CCA, to the growing number of incarceration for immigration-related offenses. As a result, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency houses around 12,000 detainees in over 150 jails, which the CCA claims, “many of which do not meet new detention standards.”
With the CCA seeing record profits, should Americans expect the privatization of their detention system to mean better conditions for the immigrants and harmless convicts that make up a good chunk of the prison population? Probably not. By acting now, however, putting some money behind the CCA could prove to be a portfolio addition that any investor will be happy to have down the road.
And if the CCA is wrong? Well that just means more hard economic times, more recession and — ideally — even more over-populated prisons down the line!
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, is perhaps the most prominent of the groups that lobby the United States government on behalf of Israel. For decades, its effectiveness has been the envy of other lobbies as well as a model to emulate. Its initial method was to focus on Congress, but in recent years, especially during the administration of George W. Bush, it turned its attention as much, if not more, to the executive branch. The Bush administration had many senior officials who believed, as does Aipac, that support of Israel should be the linchpin of the government’s Middle East policy.
Aipac has more than 100,000 members, and its influence, especially in Congress, comes in part from its ability to raise money in a wide range of congressional districts for specific contests. Aipac is not a foreign lobby — its members and officials are largely American Jews — and because it does not get money from Israel or have a contractual relationship, it is not required to register as a lobby for Israel.
Aipac has, for decades, assumed an important but informal role in the formation of policy with regard to Israel; its officials have sometimes served as a backchannel conduit between Israel and the United States government. That aspect of the organization has come under increasing scrutiny since the arrest in 2005 of two of the group’s analysts on charges of espionage.
The highly unusual indictment of the former officials, Steven J. Rosen andKeith Weissman, accused them of receiving classified information about terrorism and Middle East strategy from a Defense Department analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, and passing it on to a journalist and an Israeli diplomat. Mr. Franklin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12½ years in prison although his sentence could be reduced based on his cooperation in the case.
The Obama Justice Department moved on May 1, 2009, to drop all charges against Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman. Judge T.S. Ellis 3d of the federal court in Alexandria, Va., rejected several government efforts to conceal classified information if the case went to trial. Moreover, he ruled that the government could only prevail if it met a high standard; he said prosecutors would have to demonstrate that the two men knew that their distribution of the information would harm national security.
Just days after the charges were dropped, the committee Wielded its annual convention as an intentional show of its political strength.
More than half the members of the House and Senate attended the May 4 dinner, which featured the group’s “roll call” in which the lawmakers all rise. It is a conscious — and effective — effort to demonstrate the group’s influence on Capitol Hill.
The roster of scheduled guests for the three-day event included Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator John Kerry, Newt Gingrich and Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. The group also heard from the new Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (via satellite), and the new opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, and the president, Shimon Peres (in person).
Obama meets Netanyahu at the United Nations in New York on September 21, 2011 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)
American-Israeli relations have not been so bright recently.
The visit of a top Obama administration official was supposed to ease tensions between the countries but instead it might have only widened the gap regarding attitudes toward the Iranian nuclear problem.
President Obama’s National Security Adviser Tom Donilon arrived in Israel this week and sat with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for two hours to warn Israel against unilateral attack on Iran. According to the Israeli news outlet Debka, however, this message didn’t sit well with the hawkish leader. To military sources that have spoken to Debka, Netanyahu is believed to be upset that the US is willing to work with Iran in terms of a possible nuclear program, giving them the go-ahead as long as they promise to avoid enrichment that will lead to them developing nukes. Iran has long insisted that any nuclear related efforts are in the work for energy procurement, although the US and Israel have been called this into question.
The Obama administration has so far avoided any military action against Iran, hoping instead that international sanctions and strong words will serve as enough of a warning to keep Tehran from working on warheads. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is not convinced. He is not willing to wait for an optimistic outcome and doesn’t rule out a strike on Iran.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon explicitly called the Obama administration “hesitant” in their unwillingness to attack, which was followed by a warning only a day later by the nation’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in which he urged the US to “move from words to deeds.”
Lately, however, the US is relying less on threats in terms of taking down a weapons program and more on the hope that Iran will keep their word that the nuclear enrichment program there won’t be used for a warhead. According to the latest reports to the media made by American officials close to the matter, an US strike on Iran is currently out of the cards.
Following the recent, nearly unprecedented deployment of Iranian warships into the Mediterranean Sea, Israel appears closer than ever in coming down hard on Iran. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Commander Gen. Martin E. Dempsey warned to CNN this week that an attack at anytime soon simply wouldn’t be “prudent.”
“A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives,” Gen. Dempsey cautioned to CNN host Fareed Zakaria.
“I wouldn’t suggest…that we’ve persuaded them that our view is the correct view and that they are acting in an ill-advised fashion,” added Dempsey.
The US is now hoping that as other countries sign on to detest a nuclear program, Iran will throw in the towel. To Bloomberg Business Week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak shared similar thoughts, noting, “I think there is consensus in most capitals of the world that Iran should not be allowed to turn into a nuclear military power.”
Last week, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess said Iran will not start the war in the Middle East, unless, of course, the US acts first. Burgess also added that, despite increased sanctions imposed by the US and a buildup of American military forces surrounding the country, Iran is unlikely to halt the nuclear program that has become the cause of international concern.
“Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz at least temporarily, and may launch missiles against United States forces and our allies in the region if it is attacked,” Burgess explained this week to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
“Iran could also attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide. However, the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict,” he added.
Israel, it would seem, is not as willing to wait for that outcome and could very well clash with Iran before the US makes up its mind.
Both the US and Israel will coordinate on a joint missile exercise, the largest of its kind, in Israel later this year.
Shoppers line up at the cashiers’ checkout at a Target store in Miami (Joe Raedle/ Getty Images / AFP)
Fancy a quick scuba lesson before going on a last-minute trip to Hawaii? Paying in cash for a snorkel? Just shaved mustache because it doesn’t go with a dive mask? Big Brother will spot a terrorist: “See something, say something” policy in action.
The 25 flyers issued by the FBI and the Department of Justice give no mere Orwell creeps. Every area seems to be bursting with bombers: airports, beauty shops, construction sites, banks and internet cafes. Your tattoos master meets a bunch of them every day. Terrorists have taken to your favorite shop with train models across the street – remember how you pressed your nose against the glass after school? Now press harder: see something, say something, do something for your country.
‘Constant vigilance!’ – from fiction to action
The FBI and Department of Justice have streamed the “terrorist profiles” to every federal, state and local law enforcement agency across the country previous week. No one wants armed dangerous freaks invading a shopping mall on a Sunday, but now think about this. Are you:
– constantly impatient with your hair color?
– nervous in public spaces?
– inclined to show off before your girlfriend, even when taking your first ever dive?
– prone to staring around?
– obsessed with taking pictures?
– eager to keep your passwords to yourself in an internet cafe?
If yes, then you have all the chances to fall on the wrong side with the community and be referred to the police.
No encryption, no anonymity (forget about Skype, patriots), no cash, no hanging around, no heritage disputes at construction sites. Know your shopping list, show genuine interest, don’t avoid talking to assistants, but don’t ask for exits and sales days – you are not looking for crowds.
So the War on Terror is getting inward-bound and tens of millions of law abiding Americans will get a flavor of it. Putting aside proper instructions to identify a potential terrorist (nervous, sweating, unsure of own name and story, wearing too much clothing) and terrorist activity (using abandoned houses to store unidentified goods, driving a car without number plates, leaving packages in public areas) – where is the bottom line to assess “extreme” behavior?
The handouts stress to Americans that people who “make suspicious comments regarding anti-US, radical theology, vague or cryptic warnings that suggest or appear to endorse the use of violence in support of a cause” are, well, terrorists. So, good-bye Occupy Wall Street, you won’t be flashing headlines any more soon. Not after several arrests on “assaulting police” charges.
Be careful to forget your Constitutional rights, too. Only those, who are looking for a thrashing from homeland security, know them by heart. And never, ever speak ill of Washington’s policies:
“Fury at the West for reasons ranging from personal problems to global policies of the US” is an attitude indicator of a “sleeper,” a person who “camouflages their involvement in terrorist activity.”
By the way, you will never believe who fits the description of a sleeper as an adjoining puzzle piece. War veterans! Consider those who have spent quite some time in “countries where militant Islam rules,” are “missing hand/fingers,”have “burns” and are inclined to show undesired interest in all security stuff – like “hey, which is the police frequency over here?” So, welcome home, Afghan troops.
Think wider – stay in limits
The leaflets conclude with two disclaimers fitting quite neatly with each other. First, “just because someone’s…way of life is different, it does not mean that he or she is suspicious.”
Then, “The activities outlined on this handout are by no means all-inclusive.”
So if you see a guy, meddling in the shop with a lobster, a witch’s hat he is using as a bag and a newspaper he is holding upside down, and somehow you feel he is conspiring for a delayed bombing out, tip him off to the police.
But if your dad has given you a hooked nose and dark curls and then one morning you trade for a model plane with the “maximum range remote control” for your little bro… Just don’t get a nasty shock if your neighbor reports you. It is not the FBI’s fault that Mr. Thompson is such a raging xenophobe, who does not care what next door people look like.
FBI’s Potential indicators of terrorist activities related to Shopping Malls and Entertainment Facilities (Click to enlarge)
With the new 25 lists of security commandments, Americans now have a handout for every trip to the outer space. Still, the new instructions daze even some ex-law enforcers:
“I spent some years in law enforcement, and some of those devoted to counter-terrorism. I can assure you that most federal, state and local law enforcement personnel abide by their oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution’ and are steadfastly accountable to that oath. In other words, they understand that broadly labeling as ‘terrorists’ those who support constitutional limits on government is offensive to that oath,” reads the dedicated story in the Patriot Post.
Elena Medvedeva, Vitaliy Matveev, RT
So, what I want to share is that I have chronic anxiety, treated with Xanax and Paxil, I went to a Ph.D. for 10 years and we did some great “personal growth” work but little to mitigate my condition.
I am 60 now and the event that may have caused it, or agrivated it, happened with a major trauma on the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco bay area, a ten car pile-up…lights-out for me, I awoke in a hospital with the worst pain I ever felt, this was 1983. It could be like a PTSD thing too, right?
But, back to Biofeedback, a few years ago, I went on nocturnal oxygen for my lungs (No, I never smoked) and learned about what we do without thinking…breathing. Silly, right? Well, what I found was (measured at a pulmonologist) I was not exhaling enough to get out the bi-product of respiration, CO2, to enable more air (and O2) to enter my body via millions of tiny things in my lungs called alveoli. Long story short, I went on a trip to my Mother’s home, A 6 hr. drive, knowing I will have to cross a bridge alone, wondering if I will panic and then I remembered the Biofeedback or what I called , “gas exchange”, O2 in CO2 out. As I approached the bridge, I began taking in as much air as I could, but like puffs, maybe 20 in and then 20 out, until I could push no more out and repeated this until I past the end of the bridge. Then, I got off at the wrong exit of all things, they added one exit since I had been there last, a simple u-turn and I fixed that mistake, then off to Mom’s house.
I will tell you here and now, it worked like a miracle drug, but it was just (JUST?,a minimalist word) my body and mind working together, that which had always been there, and my lack of understanding this from 1983 to 2012, 30 YEARS, is crazy! The technique sounds a bit “Lamaze” breathing and if it is, I guess I’m re-born. I’m going to see if I can downsize my Meds over time now, keeping track of my Blood pressure and my other vitals.
Hea, If this can help anyone else and you want to talk, my email is email@example.com, feel free to say Hi. I think we are awesome as humans, if we WANT to be and yes, we can be otherwise too.
I wish you Love and Great health,
NEW YORK: US President Barack Obama has imposed more economic sanctions on Iran, including freezing Iranian assets owned by its Central Bank in US, amid fears that the Obama Administration may be preparing for an attack by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
However, Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazee dismissed such reports, saying, “I don’t think that is going to happen.”
Mr Khazee told National Public Radio in an interview: “Iran is so strong,” and “the consequences would be devastating for (Israel) and maybe for whoever helped them.”
“There are wise enough people around the world to tell them not to do such a crazy thing.”
The US and other nations have been tightening sanctions on Iran and have been warning that it needs to be more transparent about its nuclear ambitions. Iran says it is not pursuing development of nuclear weapons.
Another media report here said the world leaders were genuinely concerned that an Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic could be imminent — “an action that many fear might trigger a wider war, terrorism and global economic havoc”.
High-level foreign dignitaries, including the UN secretary general and the head of the American military, have stopped in Israel in recent weeks, urging leaders to give the diplomatic process more time to work.
Israel seems unmoved, and US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has reportedly concluded that an Israeli attack on Iran is likely in the coming months.
Shortly after the Europeans enacted their embargo, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi told reporters, “We will not abandon our just nuclear course, even if we cannot sell one drop of oil.”
A report said on Wednesday that in a move to bypass the sanctions, India had reportedly agreed to pay for Iranian oil with gold, with China expected to follow suit. Instead of isolating Iran, it appears that the sanctions are pushing the state closer to her top trading partners.
To make its embargo more effective against India’s and China’s dodge, will Washington next move to simply blockade all oil shipments out of Iran? And what are the likely consequences of these actions?
In an interview with China’s NTDTV.com, Chinese General Zhang Zhaozhong was quoted as saying that “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war.” Not very surprising. In the Iran-Iraq war, Iran purchased Chinese weapons.
The Obama Administration has also accused Chinese firms of lending a hand to developing Iran’s purported nuclear weapons programme.
A senior Russian foreign ministry official lashed out at Israel for “inventing” allegations about Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme and warned that such fabrications could entail “catastrophic consequences”. On Wednesday, Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of Security and Disarmament Department at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denounced Tel Aviv’s hawkish rhetoric on Iran over its nuclear programme as “inventions” that “are increasing the tension and could encourage moves towards a military solution with catastrophic consequences”.
He also described the speculations over Iran’s nuclear programme as “noise” and reiterated that such allegations “have political and propaganda objectives, which are far from being inoffensive”.
Seyed Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Russia (RIA Novosti / Alexander Natruskin)
On Wednesday the Iranian ambassador to Moscow, Seyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi declared that Iran has the capabilities to carry out military strikes on US interests around the globe.
This comes after President Obama announced the United States would freeze all Iranian assets held in the US. The executive order which was signed on Monday was in reaction to what the US is calling deceptive practices by Iran.
“The issue of a military attack from America on the Islamic Republic of Iran has been on the agenda for several years,” said Sajjadi.
The building provocation by Washington has been cornering Tehran and Sajjadi has stated that a US-led attack on Iran would be like committing suicide. Sajjadi went on to say Iran would by no means attack first.
According to Sajjadi, “Even if it (US) attacks, we have a list of counter actions.”
Sajjadi’s words don’t seem to be empty words. Last Thursday, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Moshe Yaalon, disclosed that, according to his sources, the big blast at the Iranian missile base near Tehran in November of last year blew up a new missile system with a range of 10,000 kilometers, one capable of targeting the United States.
Iran has warned the US and its allies that a military strike would be “painful” and Iran would be forced to aim their aggression on Israel and US bases in the Gulf. In addition a closure of the Strait of Hormuz would quickly follow. The US and its allies have attempted to force Iran to shut down their nuclear programs for fear of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and at the same time the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has gone public admitting Iran does not have nuclear weapons. Iran has stated their nuclear program is not for military purposes and insists a nuclear bomb is not in the works.
Despite Panetta’s statements Washington has not disregarded the military option. Additionally, Panetta has announced that Israel may launch a military strike on Iran within the next 90 days. However, the Iranians remain defiant in the face of such threats.
“The Americans know what kind of country Iran is. They are well aware of our people’s unity,” said Sajjadi.
By ALEXANDER BURNS |
1/27/12 11:40 AM EST
Newt Gingrich is standing by his warning that an Iranian nuclear weapon could cause a “second Holocaust.”
At a press conference here in Miami, a reporter noted to Gingrich that he was on the cover of casino mogul and Gingrich super PAC backer Sheldon Adelson’s Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom. The headline declared that President Barack Obama’s policies could lead to another genocide against the Jews.
Asked if he would disavow that kind of rhetoric, Gingrich shrugged: “It’s probably my rhetoric.”
“I have said allowing Iran to get nuclear weapons … runs the direct risk of a second Holocaust. That is a fact,” Gingrich said.
However Jewish voters in Florida respond to his rhetoric, Gingrich’s most important audience for this kind of question is almost certainly Adelson, who has directed $10 million to the pro-Gingrich group Winning Our Future.
Gingrich is scheduled to address a rally of the Republican Jewish Coalition — another organization Adelson supports — elsewhere in Florida this afternoon.
Also a must read: http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/aipac-still-chosen-one
Hitler Flatware To Be Included In New York Historical Society Exhibit
01/26/12 01:17 PM ET
The fork and knife contain the initials A and H. They’re among 150 objects from the New-York Historical Society’s collection.
The exhibition opens May 4.
The museum says it received the flatware in 1946 from the late philanthropist and financier Carl Loeb.
Loeb got it from an American soldier who was a member of the force that captured Hitler’s chalet retreat in 1945.
The museum says the pieces have never been displayed. It says there hasn’t been an exhibition placing them in a historical context until now.
The museum says it wasn’t surprising that Loeb kept the flatware as evidence of Hitler’s defeat.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGC-N) is an integral component of Iranian defensive strategy and its forces are expected to be key players in any Iranian retaliatory strategy should the US attack Iranian nuclear facilities. IRGC-N doctrine is based on “access-denial” of the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz through which almost a third of all seaborne oil passes and could include directly targeting US warships, attacking merchant shipping, mining and attempting to close the Straits of Hormuz, as well as attacking various energy and strategic installations in and around the Persian Gulf. The net effort of IRGC-N forces is likely to impact global energy security but Iran is unlikely to be able to close the Straits of Hormuz, particularly for any extended period of time.
Iran has two navies – the Shah-era conventional Iranian Navy (IRIN) – and the IRGC-N, which emerged as an independent entity in the 1980s and came of age during the Iran-Iraq War with successful amphibious operations in southern Iraq. Following post-Revolution mistrust of all Shah-era military formations, the IRGC-N was promoted and today wields substantial influence with the Supreme Leader as well as with influential defense, government and clerical figures, as a result of which it has primacy in resource and funding allocations, and has acquired several new platforms and capabilities even as the IRIN fleet ages. Especially after the Tanker Wars of the late 1980s, Iranian strategic planners appear to have concluded that in the event of large-scale hostilities, Iran’s larger conventional fleet would be of limited use (during Operation Praying Mantis in 1988, US forces destroyed over 25 percent of Iran’s larger naval ships in one day) and as such have restructured their forces to wage asymmetric naval guerrilla warfare. This fleet is expected to be far more lethal than IRIN could hope to be and is now entrusted with “full responsibility” for operations in the critical Persian Gulf. The IRIN is now relegated to the Gulf of Oman and the Caspian Sea.
The IRGC-N seeks to operate at the lower end of the conflict spectrum and exploit vulnerabilities in the larger conventional forces of its US and Gulf Arab enemies. IRGC commander Brigadier General Jafaari explicitly stated, “The enemy is far more advanced technologically than we are, we have been using what is called asymmetric warfare methods… our forces are now well prepared for it.” The IRGC-N operates a sizable fleet of small boats, small submarines, mine-laying units, anti-ship missiles, and naval infantry units to conduct naval guerilla war. It will likely rely upon its “mosaic defense” strategy to decentralize its command and control apparatuses and allow operational zones to operate autonomously. IRGC soldiers and sailors are also generally expected to be more ideologically committed than regular forces and could even be used to conduct suicide attacks.
Iran is generally believed to be a rational player that recognizes the consequences of full-scale engagement with the US – not least of which is the effect on Iran’s 87 percent of imports and 99 percent of exports that transit by sea, most through the Straits of Hormuz. Iran has also generally abstained from escalating conflict in the Gulf beyond limited engagements, although has shown a willingness to engage in brinksmanship. In March 2007, IRGC-N forces captured 15 British marines for several days for ‘entering sovereign Iranian waters’ and Iranian small boats have occasionally harassed and provoked US warships. One such incident in 2008 may have been designed to test US rules of engagement and involved IRGC-N boats making threatening maneuvers as well as a radio transmission that stated, “I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes.” It remains difficult to distinguish between Iranian rhetoric and reality, but the IRGC-N has carried out several wargames in recent years, and Iranian officials have sometimes threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz in the aftermath of tensions with the US.
The IRGC-N is under the command of Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who was appointed by Supreme Leader Khamenei in May 2010, to replace Rear Admiral Morteza Saffari. The Persian Gulf is divided into four main areas of responsibility.
Key Base, Location
Area of Responsibility
1st Naval District
Shahid Bahonar, Bandar Abbas
Straits of Hormuz
2nd Naval District
Shahid Mahalati, Bandar Bushehr
Central Persian Gulf
3rd Naval District
Northern Persian Gulf
4th Naval District
Click on the placemarks in the map for information on each base
The IRGC-N maintains operational control over the Persian Gulf and maintains several bases along the Persian Gulf as seen in the map below. The IRGC-N has also expanded its bases along the Sea of Oman towards the Pakistani border, moving outside its regional competency to potentially extend its “layered defense strategy” outside the Straits of Hormuz.
View IRGC Naval Bases in a larger map
Small Boat “Swarming” Attacks
The IRGC-N has prioritized the use of small missile-equipped craft to implement “swarming” tactics against warships and merchant shipping in the narrow Persian Gulf. Given US conventional superiority and air dominance, the IRGC-N is likely to have dispensed with ‘mass swarming’ tactics in favor of ‘dispersed swarming’ where highly agile small craft converge from various concealed bases to surprise and attack targets. Swarming is a crude but potentially effective asymmetric tactic to overwhelm superior conventional forces, particularly if coupled with effective anti-ship missiles. In a 2002 US Navy simulation “sunk” 16 ships including an aircraft carrier while copying Iranian asymmetric capabilities. Since then, obviously this need has been recognized, and amongst other changes, the US’s new Littoral Combat Ships are designed for precisely such encounters. In naval wargames, Iran often highlights its small-boat capacity.
The IRGCN operates a sizable fleet of small but heavily armed boats. These include the Azaraksh (China Cat) and Thondar (Hudong) fast-attack missile craft armed with the Kowsar and C-802 anti-ship missiles (ASM), the North-Korean acquired Peykaap I and II (IPS-16/IPS-16 modified) and Tir (IPS-18) missile boats, as well as patrol craft the Ashura, Tareq and Boghammer speedboats. The C-802 ASM is the same missile used to destroy an Israeli corvette during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War. Iran is also unveiling new lines of high-speed and “stealth” boats including the Ya Mahdi, Seraj and Zolfaghar craft and in a daring international scheme Iran acquired and intends to mass produce the Bladerunner-51, the world’s fastest speedboat.
Iranian small boats have obvious disadvantages and on their own are highly vulnerable to US firepower. Surprise will be their most important asset for any successful confrontation, a requirement acknowledged by the IRGCN. Many vessels are designed to be capable of being “launched discreetly…off the back of a flatbed truck under cover of darkness, during high tide without any special accommodations.” Many are dispersed along “small inlets, small fishing ports and hardened sites,” and the IRGC is believed to have a presence on many islands and coastal villages along the Persian Gulf.
Iranian mine-laying craft Iran Ajr captured by US Navy in Sep. 1987
Iran operates multiple platforms capable of mining the Straits of Hormuz including at least three ships with dedicated mine-laying capabilities, three RH-53D Sea Stallion mine-laying helicopters, as well as the option of adapting virtually any other small boat, disguised fishing trawler or larger missile craft for the purpose of deploying mines. Submarines, particularly the Ghadir midget-class submarines are also ideal for mine-laying operations in the shallow coastal waters of the Persian Gulf. The Iranian stockpile is believed to consist of between 3,000-5,000 mines acquired from Russian, Chinese and North Korean sources, as well as developed indigenously notably the Chinese EM-11 and EM-52 and the Russian-made M-08, M-26 and MDM-6.
US and Gulf surveillance and naval capabilities make prolonged mine-laying operations exceeding difficult, but the possibility of mine-laying boats escaping undetected is not unlikely. Iran operates dhows disguised as fishing vessels in addition to regular craft, making detection difficult, and during the Tanker Wars of 1987-98, IRGC-N boats were able to lay 12 mines right in the path of Kuwaiti supertanker MV Bridgeton, while in visual range of escorting US navy warships.
Additionally, even a limited mine-laying operation would be economically costly. STRATFOR notes that even a 10 percent chance of a mine strike would entail the need to clear a Q-route, which could take a week or more, a substantial amount of time and disruption to energy flows and maritime insurance costs. Moreover, given the density of traffic transiting the Straits, it is possible that even a cleared route would restrict normal tanker traffic.
Iran’s amphibious raiding strategy would seek to replicate its successful operations in the southern Iraqi marshlands during the Iran-Iraq War to attack oil terminals, merchant ships and other strategic targets. Amphibious assaults would be highly vulnerable to US/Gulf military superiority, but Iran has made concerted efforts to deploy frogmen far out into the Gulf. The IRGC-N now maintains a brigade strength contingent of about 5,000 Iranian Marines, a large underwater training center at Bandar Abbas and the largest amphibious fleet amongst its Arab neighbors, barring the U.A.E. The IRGCN has modified logistics ships to deploy frogmen and sought to disguise its ships to resemble normal commercial traffic. Iran has also experimented with submersible-delivery vehicles including the Ghadir midget submarine, which contains provisions for mounting a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV).
Iranian Admiral Sajjad Kouchaki claimed that Iran has “1,500 special operation teams” with 23 landing ships and vessels, which all told could in theory transport a few thousands troops and tens of tanks. Iran also operates about 5 M-171 helicopters and could utilize civilian craft to move troops. In general, however, aside from intercepting merchant ships or attacking lightly defended areas in surprise attacks, Iran naval infantry forces are ill-equipped to move amphibious forces across the Gulf in combined operations.
“Static Warships” and Coastal Missile Batteries
The IRGC-N has geography to its advantage and is able to use the many islands dotting the Persian Gulf to create a crescent of shore-based missile batteries that ring the Straits of Hormuz. On these islands, a variety of anti-ship and ballistic missiles platforms are located using extensive networks of tunnels and underground missile bunkers that create “static warships” with which to attack enemy forces. In theory, the US could face a formidable threat with “several dozen batteries and several hundred anti-ship cruise missiles spread across an area roughly the size of Kosovo.” In reality, however, the IRGC-N may suffer from maintenance and training deficiencies, whereas US surveillance and countermeasure capabilities continue to improve.
Iranian coastal defense systems are armed with a variety of anti-ship missiles of varying sources and capabilities including but not limited to variants of the Chinese-made Silkworm (the HY-2 and HY-2G Seersucker), and the C-801 Sardine (Raad) and C-802 Saccade (Noor) missile based off the French Exocet missile. Iranian missiles have been adapted to several platforms including truck-mounted batteries, and it is not always easily apparent which service branch maintains operational control over specific coastal batteries. Some missiles are capable of hitting Gulf Arab ports, especially if forward-deployed on island chains.