Iran’s “gray zone” strategy has significant implications for the U.S. Navy despite the conventional maritime superiority the United States currently maintains in the eastern Mediterranean and throughout the Central Command area of responsibility. With proxies in Syria and Yemen, and the bulk of its navy based in Bandar Abbas, Iran is well positioned to hold the U.S. Navy at risk in the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb, and increasingly the waters off the Levant. To meet this threat, the Navy needs to understand fully Iran’s current capabilities and objectives in the gray zone, train and exercise to recognize and combat this unique type of aggression, and demonstrate a willingness to escalate the competition to be successful.
Iran Owns the Gray Zone
After the USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf in April 1988, the u.S. Navy responded with Operation Praying Mantis. Here, a militarized Iranian oil rig burns after it was destroyed by Marine boarding parties and Navy aircraft.
By Commander T. J. Gilmore, U.S. Navy
Iran has mastered the art of “short-of-war,” with important implications for the U.S. Navy.