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Policy Analysis

Policy Focus 95

Gulf of Conflict: A History of U.S.-Iranian Confrontation at Sea

David B. Crist

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June 2009

Iran, a former world power and now rising regional power, has a proud military history stretching back four thousand years. For the last thirty, Iran and the United States have been locked in a hostile embrace and, on several occasions during the latter phases of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, engaged in open, if undeclared, conflict in the Persian Gulf. What did Tehran learn from these encounters, and what lessons should the United States draw in evaluating how best to contain and deter the armed forces of an increasingly assertive Iran?

In Gulf of Conflict: A History of U.S.-Iranian Confrontation at Sea, military historian David B. Crist analyzes the strategy, operations, and tactics behind U.S.-Iranian clashes in the Persian Gulf during the 1980s and discusses the impact of that historic confrontation on today's Iranian military.


David B. Crist, a senior historian in the Joint History Office, Joint Chiefs of Staff, has written and spoken extensively about contemporary military history, especially naval operations in the Middle East. He is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq with Coalition Joint Special Operations Task Forces. This study is based on his dissertation.

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