Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mystery Facility North of Bandar Abbas

In a comment on the "IRGCN's 26th Missile Group" piece, a regular reader* drew my attention to a collection of military facilities about 20 km north of Bandar Abbas, broaching the possibility that they might also be linked to the IRGC . While I cannot comment on this with confidence, it is certainly plausible. Indeed, all things being equal, they probably are.

The most persuasive 'devil's advocate' argument against these being IRGC UGFs is the fact that the area is littered with manufacturing and other extraction-based industries, which suggests that these UGFs may simply be mines.

Given the balance of evidence, this scenario is unlikely. For instance, why would a mine be attached to a collection of hardened shelters typically associated with munition storage? Similarly, these sites lack many of the characteristics and associated mine-infrastructure found in other nearby extraction industries, which tend to be open-pit quarries rather than these horizontal shaft-types. The caveat to this claim is that it is made with little in-depth knowledge of what constitutes 'mine-infrastructure'.

Nonetheless, the nearby industrial compounds share a number of features typically used to identify military facilities including entry-control points, ordered/geometric building configurations, and perimeter fencing. This is further muddied by the fact that the sites in question differ considerably from the 'traditional' layouts associated with the units described on the Arkenstone thusfar - ground force maneuver units like NEZAJA armored brigades.

Thus, I offer the following without detailed conclusions for the moment. My hope is to ruminate on the issue, and crowdsource any alternative explanations. Given the importance of the Straits, and the role of the IRGC within them, it would not be unreasonable to assume these facilities have strategic significance (or, to be pedantic, tactical or operational significance).

Bandar Abbas area overview
UGF, area overview
UGF, garrison
UGF-adjacent hardened shelters
UGF, primary tunnel
UGF, secondary tunnels
 * A tip of the hat to 'NICO'.


  1. My first intention was to check out Minab and see what I could spot that looked military. The city seems pretty small and doesn't appear to contain anything with a military "feel" to it. Bandar Abbas, on the other hand, seems to be teeming with military stuff, military port, air force and navy airport, bunkers, weapons depots,etc....also added to the fact that Kuhestak Coastal Missile Battery that you talked about a few months ago appears abandoned or at a very low state of operations, these sites seem newer, significantly bigger and far more ready for operations. There is a lot more support structure for what I assume is ASM batteries and maybe even IRBMs so when you mentioned you hadn't found anything in Minab, I figured I would ask you about these bunkers and buildings if they were related to IRGC.

    I have found over the years a couple of sites with some bunkers near quarries and another one close to an open mine and I assume they are civilian. These bunkers come across as part of some sort of military complex. It has never been very clear to me who exactly is in charge of missiles in Iran if it is the Army or IRGC or maybe in this case maybe the Navy if they are ASMs batteries? Could that explain why they don't have the same layout as other bases?

  2. Don't see the 13 hardened shelters.
    Tunnels probably parking slots.

    1. I agree, not shelters, just protected parking slots

  3. The army operates a small number of artillery rockets - Zelzals and Nazeats - in the same manner that the Soviet used the FROGs: deep strike in conventional war. Essentially just longer ranged artillery.

    The IRGC air force (literally: aerospace force) operates the VERY long-range missiles like SCUD-derivatives. They also operate shorter ranged Zelzal and Nazeat. My working assumption is that while the former category constitutes a strategic weapon, the latter would be closer to the 'deep-strike' role in that they would constitute tactical support rather than independent campaign.

    Anti-shipping cruise missiles on the other hand are operated by the IRGC-N. These groups also operate MLRSs like the Fajr-series, indicating that they're used as ad hoc anti-shipping weapons (see the pictures Rouhani's visit to Bandar Abbas, attached at the 26th Group piece). The regular Navy (IRIN) also operates these ASCMs, both on their ships, and from coastal batteries. No idea about their organization within the IRIN though. If I had to guess, I'd say coastal defense

    Interestingly, the Khalij Fars ASBM is operated by the IRGC-AF/ASF, not by the IRGC-N, which itself is rather interesting since it indicates a separation of responsibility between the two in anti-shipping actions.


    Regarding the garrisons. Most of the ground-forces locations I've looked at are legacies of the Imperial Armed Forces, and so reflect this age. Similarly, these units tend to have the same infrastructure requirements given the number of personnel and equipment they operate like X number of barracks, motor-pools, clinics, firing-ranges, kitchens, bakeries, bathrooms, workships/garages

    I'm having a hard time articulating exactly what's missing, or what's present here, but I guess I'm just not recognizing the same patterns I see elsewhere. Not very helpful, I know.

    I wish I had the time to do it, but it might be worth comparing these to similar facilities near Borzajan (IRGCN, presumably), Khorromabad (IRGC-AF/ASF), Bidqaneh/Tehran (IRGC-AF/ASF), and Kermanshah (IRGC-AF/ASF, presumably).