In a move reminiscent of the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. Army has compiled a new deck of cards. This time around, however, the deck doesn’t include the top-men of the Baathist party and Iraqi military and intelligence apparatus, but the more important weapons systems in the Iranian arsenal.
According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the deck was produced to familiarize warfighters with the Iranian weapon systems that they might encounter on the battlefield in the event of a conflict with Tehran.
The deck has 54 cards. The weapon systems depicted range from main battle tanks to attack helicopters to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Interestingly enough, a considerable amount of the deck includes weapon systems that are made in the United Kingdom, the U.S., or other Western nations. These are residues of the pre-revolution era when the Shah of Iran was a staunch U.S. ally and a source of regional stability. These relics from the past include, among other weapon systems, the British-made Chieftain Mark III and Mark V main battle tank, the American-made M115 (203mm) towed howitzer, the Swedish-made AT-4 anti-tank guided missile, the British-made FV101 Scorpion armored reconnaissance vehicle, and the American-made M113A1 armored personnel carrier. Additionally, the deck includes a plethora of characteristic Soviet-made weapons, such as the BTR-80 armored personnel carrier, the SA-2 surface-to-air missile system, and the T-72S main battle tank. The deck also includes a copy of the AH-1J Sea Cobra chopper (the Iranian version is named Toufan, or typhoon).
The Iranian Revolution of 1978 ousted the Shah and the royal family. It triggered the Iran hostage crisis, in which 52 American diplomats, servicemen, and civilians were held hostage for 444 days by the revolutionary regime. The Revolution and the crisis was a turning point for American foreign policy in the Middle East. Since then, Iran has led an aggressive covert campaign against U.S. and Western interests in the region. Spearheaded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, Iran has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and Western servicemen. The more infamous attacks are the Beirut Barrack Bombings of 1983, when Hezbollah terrorists, funded and directed by Iranian operatives, obliterated the Marine Corps and French paratrooper barracks in the Lebanese capital, leaving almost 300 dead (241 Americans and 58 Frenchmen).
Despite Iranian provocations in and outside the region, it would be far more prudent for the U.S. to avoid an invasion of the country. Would the American military prevail in such a conflict? Of course. But that’s not the point. Such an eventuality would jeopardize American economic and military preponderance to the benefit of near-peer adversaries. Diplomatic and economic measures should spearhead any strategy against the Iranian regime.