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The Defense Department Recognizes Iran’s Proxy War

Does America have a plan to stop the Iranians? Or, is the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan acceptable?

1:00 PM, Apr 20, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Like Hekmatyar, Ismail Khan once opposed the Taliban, then lost, and was later forced to flee to Iran. After the Taliban fell from power, he took over as the governor of the Herat province for a time until he was ousted from that position. Khan was given a cabinet seat as the minister of water and energy in Karzai’s government and then lost that, too. It is not clear, from the DoD’s report, what allegedly nefarious activities Khan and the Iranians are colluding on.

Finally, there is the Taliban. Despite being longtime enemies, the Taliban and Iran are cooperating against American-led forces in Afghanistan. The DoD’s report echoes what has been said before by other military and intelligence officials. In his own report on Afghanistan, for example, General Stanley McChrystal said that the IRGC-QF “is reportedly training fighters for certain Taliban groups and providing other forms of military assistance to insurgents.”

And in written testimony given to the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2009, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair noted:

Iran's policy calculation in Afghanistan currently emphasizes lethal support to the Taliban, even though revelation of this activity could threaten its future relationship with the Afghan government and its historic allies within Afghanistan. … Taliban commanders have publicly credited Iranian support for their successful operations against Coalition forces.

So, the DoD report is just the latest assessment to confirm what we should all know by now: Iran and the Taliban are allied against America.     


In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, the Iranian regime’s real policy is duplicity. The DoD reports: “Iran continues to provide money, weapons and training to select Iraqi Shia militants and terrorists despite pledges by senior Iranian officials to stop such support.”

The IRGC has stationed its members in key diplomatic outposts. Both Iran’s outgoing and incoming ambassadors to Iraq are officers in the Qods force. But while the Iranians continue to conduct their version of “diplomacy” through the IRGC, the regime also continues to provide weaponry and explosives to their proxies. This includes: “Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) with radio-controlled, remote arming and passive  infrared detonators,” Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), anti-aircraft weapons, mortars, 107 and 122 millimeter rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, as well as other explosives.

The DoD is explicit about Iran’s targeting of U.S. forces. It is worth quoting the following key paragraph in full: 

Iran also offers strategic and operation guidance to militias and terrorist groups to target U.S. Forces in Iraq and undermine U.S. interests. In addition to providing arms and support, IRGC-QF is responsible for training Iraqi insurgents in Iran, sometimes using Lebanese Hizballah instructors. Lebanese Hizballah provides insurgents with the training, tactics and technology to conduct kidnappings, small unit tactical operations and employ sophisticated IEDs. In addition to weapons and support, Iran continues training Shia militants in the use of IEDs, EFPs, and the counter-measures designed to defeat these weapons and the networks that design, build, emplace and fund them draw persistent counter-responses. The flow of new IED technologies and highly creative emplacement and employment methods underscore the enemy’s ability to adapt and react quickly and efficiently to CF countermeasures.   

As in Afghanistan, therefore, the Iranian regime sponsors America’s enemies.

Not “Rogue” Operations

There is one final paragraph that is especially noteworthy in the DoD’s report. It reads:

Iran established the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) in 1990 as an elite unit with the IRGC. Although its operations sometimes appear at odds with the public voice of the Iranian regime, it is not a rogue outfit; it receives direction from the highest levels of government, and its leaders report directly, albeit informally, to Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, employing complementary diplomatic and paramilitary strategies.

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