Over the weekend, American servicemembers lost their lives to attacks by Iranian-backed militants using drones in Jordan. Three U.S. servicemembers were killed, and 25 others were wounded in this strike. The targeted area had a contingent of approximately 350 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel stationed on the Jordanian border. Their mission was to prevent the resurgence of ISIS and provide security for Syrian refugees. The attacks on U.S. forces in the region persist.
Questions are being raised about President Joe Biden’s policies, which are criticized for their perceived weakness, especially following a failed “proportional response” against Iranian proxy Houthi rebels in Yemen. Many are questioning the broader strategy and asking, “What’s the plan?”
Biden’s regional policies are seen as a continuation of Obama-era approaches, emphasizing appeasement of Iran’s theocratic regime in hopes of dissuading nuclear missile deployment. The Obama administration viewed Iran as a regional counterbalance to Israel. However, concerns about maintaining the flow of Middle Eastern oil to alleviate energy price concerns for consumers during an election year also factor into the equation.
The current situation prompts comparisons to “Obama’s Law,” where Iran seemingly has the freedom to attack while avoiding retaliation. The expectation is that the Biden administration understands regional objectives and the risks for U.S. forces. A crucial element in ensuring the safety of American servicemembers should involve robust war games.
War games are vital tools used by military planners to enhance understanding of situations and anticipate potential enemy actions. Reflecting on historical events like the Battle of Midway and Operation Earnest Will, where war games played a pivotal role in decision-making, underscores their significance.
The Reagan administration’s approach during the Iran-Iraq War, particularly Operation Praying Mantis, showcased the importance of strategic responses based on war game outcomes. The successful naval operation influenced Iran’s decision to seek peace.
In the current context, there are three possibilities regarding the Biden team’s use of war gaming to anticipate Iran’s proxy attacks. It could be that no war gaming was conducted or was improperly carried out. Alternatively, war games might have been conducted, but the results weren’t communicated up the chain of command due to unwelcome outcomes. The third possibility is that war games were conducted, the results communicated, but subsequently ignored, with the loss of American servicemembers considered a collateral price to uphold “Obama’s Law.”
Emphasizing the seriousness of war gaming as a tool of statecraft and war, the article warns against ignoring results, especially if they conflict with ideological preferences, as it could lead to perilous consequences and be deemed criminal malpractice.