Small Wars Journal

Israel vs. Iran: Who Holds the Advantage in an Increasingly Looming War?

Israel vs. Iran: Who Holds the Advantage in an Increasingly Looming War? By Carlo Muñoz - Washington Times

As two of the Middle East’s military heavyweights edge closer to a shooting war, Israel boasts one of the world’s most effective militaries backed by a nuclear arsenal, but Iran has 10 times the population and an increasing number of ways to strike back asymmetrically.

The Iran military’s total force is reported to be 934,000 active-duty and reserve troops, while the total number of Israeli troops comes in at 615,000, according to figures compiled by Expanding the aperture to include all fighting-age citizens, Iran still holds the advantage with over half of the country’s population of 84 million eligible to fight, compared with 3.6 million in Israel.

But the age of high-tech warfare and armed drones is where Iran’s advantages end in terms of conventional warfare, military analysts say.

In a conventional ground war, Israeli forces would dominate Iran with an arsenal of over 2,700 tanks and heavy artillery against Tehran’s force of just over 1,600 heavy ground weapons in total. Israel would hold a similar advantage in the air, with a fleet of nearly 600 fighter jets and attack helicopters, compared with the 500 combat aircraft in the Iranian air force, which consist mostly of trainers, supply helicopters and cargo planes.

Iran’s advantages are more indirect, analysts say. The military relies on its ability to enlist proxy forces and target strategic chokepoints to counter Israel’s conventional advantages. Iran’s prolific abilities to raise, train and equip formidable proxy forces across the Middle East remains the country’s greatest advantage…

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