Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that his forces are due to stage ‘Velayat 93’ naval drills late in December.
“The most important achievement of the Navy has been its presence in free waters, which has been a result of the Supreme Leader’s wisdom, and the Navy will no more limit the region of its drills to the territorial waters,” Sayyari said in Tehran on Friday.
“We are present in free waters not for making aggression against any country but for defending the interests of our country,” he said.
Noting that the ‘Velayat 93’ naval exercises will be staged in the 10 degree geographical latitude (North of the Indian Ocean) late December, Sayyari expressed the hope that Iran could use new vessels and weapons in the maneuvers.
In relevant remarks in August, Sayyari announced that the country’s Armed Forces are due to stage ‘Velayat 93’ joint drills in the second half of the current Iranian year (started on March 21).
“We will stage the Islamic Republic of Iran’s highly massive joint exercises along the country’s coasts in the Southeast to the 10 degree geographical latitude in the third or fourth quarter of this year,” Sayyari told FNA.
“The ground, air and air defense forces will participate in Velayat 93 joint drills,” he added.
Sayyari stressed that the exercises would have a message of peace and friendship to the neighboring countries, and said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy is capable of establishing security in the regional waters from every dimension.”
In recent years, Iran’s Navy has been increasing its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for trade vessels and tankers.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly asserted that its overseas naval presence is meant to convey a message of peace and friendship to the other countries. Iranian officials and commanders have also underlined on various occasions that all military exercises and trainings of the Iranian Armed Forces are merely meant to serve deterrent purposes.
Velayat wargames are the annual exercises conducted by the Iranian Army’s naval forces each year. Last year, the drills were conducted in the second half of the Iranian year (September, 2013-March, 2014) and were codenamed Velayat 2.
Different units, including surface, subsurface, air and airborne units, participated in the drills.
And almost a year before Velayat 2, the Iranian Navy finished 6 days of massive naval exercises, codenamed Velayat 91, in the country’s Southern waters in January 2013.
The naval drills were carried out in the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman, North of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.
During the exercises, the Navy test-fired various types of long-range missiles from coasts and navy vessels.
Different types of short and long-range coast-to-sea, surface-to-surface, surface-to-air missiles were also tested by Iranian troops and vessels. Iranian submarines also launched smart torpedoes during the drills.
Iran’s naval power has even been acknowledged by foes. In a Sep. 11, 2008 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy said that in the two decades since the Iraqi imposed war on Iran, the Islamic Republic has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.
According to the report, Iran’s Navy has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world’s oil lifeline, the Strait of Hormuz.
The study said that if Washington takes military action against the Islamic Republic, the scale of Iran’s response would likely be proportional to the scale of the damage inflicted on Iranian assets.