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Deterrence vs. Assurance: The U.S. Naval Presence in the Persian Gulf

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This thesis examines the U.S. Navys current strategy in the Persian Gulf and assesses which aspect of that strategydeterrence or assurancemakes a more significant contribution to regional stability in the greater Middle East region. This research draws from two cases the Navys deterrence-based strategy surrounding Iranian aggression toward the Strait of Hormuz and the Navys assurance-based strategy using Saudi Arabia as an example. The findings indicate that Iran poses little threat to the Strait of Hormuz for various economic and military reasons, suggesting that perhaps the Navys policy of deterring Iran through the presence of warships is misguided and unnecessary. Alternatively, providing assurance to Saudi Arabia seems to have a positive impact on regional stability. If the Navy seeks to use its warships as a stabilizing force in the region, it should restructure its strategy and employ ships in ways that provide assurance, not deterrence.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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