Daily Israel Report

Pentagon Fears 'Regional War'

US officials are concerned that an Israeli strike on Iran could result in regional war and hundreds of US casualties, after Pentagon games
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 3/20/2012, 6:03 PM

An Israeli option: F-16i
An Israeli option: F-16i
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Pentagon war games predict an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear sites may quickly spiral out of control and result in a large regional war.

A classified two-week war simulation conducted by the US Central Command dubbed Internal Look envisioned a scenario wherein Israel carried out an air strike on Iranian facilities.

Projected retaliation targeted both the Jewish state and the American forces in the region since based on the assumption Tehran would hold Washington complicit in the attack.

Results of the simulation leaked to the New York Times indicate Iran would likely be able to sink at least one American warship in the Persian Gulf, killing 200 crew members on board. Separate strikes by Israel and the US managed to delay Iran’s nuclear program by just three years.

The simulated conflict then escalated into a wider regional war, showing that a possible attack on Iran would likely have unforeseeable and uncontrollable consequences. The result has reportedly raised concern among those US officials skeptical of Israel’s ability to deal a decisive blow to Iran’s nuclear facilities.

US officials insist the exercise is not a rehearsal for American military action, but instead aimed at testing internal communication and coordination between the Pentagon and the various staff in the Gulf region.

The simulation also only considered just one scenario, and results of a real conflict may differ, the military said. Critics say the leaked information – without being able to assess the underlying premises that drove the simulation – is meaningless.

Simulations of multiple potential scenarios would be required before policy makers had useful data from which to make decisions, they add.

Political observers note that leaks of classified data frequently have political motivations, and are inherently unreliable without extensive corroboration.

The exercise in question has been held since the Cold War era, when US troops played on scenarios of a Soviet offensive in Middle East. In December 2002, Internal Look was used to test America’s readiness to the coming invasion of Iraq.