Iran's Nightmare: Time for America to Use Drones in the Persian Gulf?

Key point:Unmanned systems offer an important and innovative way to counter Iran and to learn how to best use these systems.

Introduction

Current incidents in the Arabian Sea should be seized as an opportunity to advance naval conceptual thinking about unmanned maritime systems in gray zone operations. Gray zone activities are an astute object for concept development, as they creep up on their goals gradually, rather than involving decisive moves, as Michael Mazarr has argued. In response, Mazarr contends, gray zone operations will call for a greater emphasis on innovation as these operations take different forms and intensities and thus require varied responses. This coincides with the general need to devote more attention to concepts development that drives the use of new naval technologies such as unmanned systems.

Applying Unmanned Systems to Gulf Security

Maritime stability in the Arabian Sea has deteriorated significantly over the past couple of weeks. In response to the Iranian seizure of the Stena Imperio, a Swedish oil tanker under British flag, London reached out to different European capitals in view of establishing a maritime protection mission escorting commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz.

This incident and prior events in the Arabian Sea such as harassing commercial vessels with speedboats and assaults on commercial vessels are a perfect illustration of so-called gray zone activities. Located between war and peace, gray zone activities involve coercive a....

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