US General Sees Regional Threat From New Iranian Weapons

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: Dow Jones
Byline: Rebecca Christie
Date: 19 September 2006

WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said new types of
rockets and bombs have spread from Iran throughout the region, posing a
threat to the U.S. and its allies.
Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said recent advances
rocket-propelled grenade launchers and new types of roadside explosives. At
Defense Writers Group breakfast, he said Iran poses a variety of threats in
addition to its own military forces.
In some cases, these weapons may have made their way into Iraq with the
direct aid of the Iranian government, Abizaid said. In others, like that of
RPG-29 launchers, weapons sent to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon may have
traveled to Iraq without Iran's help.
"In the part of the world that we operate in, there's a tremendous amount
weapons smuggling going on all the time," Abizaid said.
Given this trend, it is interesting that Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon did
not use more deadly air defense technology, Abizaid said.
"While you shouldn't ever underestimate Iranian military power, if I were
put them on a scale of one to 10 with regard to their air defense network,
say they're a middle-grade power," Abizaid said.
This assessment of threats in and around Iraq comes as the Defense
struggles with growing budget pressures. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have
required billions of dollars for trucks, armor and ammunition, leaving less
money for expensive modernization programs.
The Army has resisted cuts to its $165 billion Future Combat Systems
which is managed by Boeing Co. (BA) and Science Applications International
Corp. That program aims to overhaul the Army's battlefield communications
a system of digital networks that critics say may not be effective against
guerrilla fighters.
Air defenses have been a prime concern for the Air Force in that service's
quest to buy more F-22 Raptor stealth fighters. Service officials say the
million Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) jets are the only way to defeat the
latest-generation surface-to-air missiles.
Abizaid said the U.S. and its allies so far have not encountered any major
new air defense systems. But he cautioned that the systems could find their
to the region.
"I think in today's battlefield that sophisticated weapons that don't
an awful lot of technical backup can show up anywhere," Abizaid said.