Grace LiuGeolocating IRGC and Strategic Military Sites in Iran

This post was authored by Cyrus Jabbari, a graduate research assistant at CNS.

There’s been an increase in escalatory events in recent weeks surrounding the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the Persian Gulf. Terrorist entities operating out of Yemen have on several occasions attacked Saudi Arabian oil and military facilities with IRI-supplied unmanned conventional-armed aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and ballistic missiles. Days after U.S. announcements to increase security and remove personnel from its embassy in Baghdad, a rocket reportedly launched from an area controlled by IRI-backed paramilitary groups and struck near the U.S. embassy complex. U.S. forces have been conducting military exercises in the Persian Gulf, and Iran has been rapidly increasing its deployment of weapons systems and personnel to coastal territories.

On April 8 of this year, the United States designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and weeks later announced the redeployment of a carrier strike group and strategic bomber group to the Middle East. This move comes amid what U.S. intelligence conveyed as credible evidence of near-term threats of IRI attacks on U.S. forces.

Given increased concerns of what might happen between the United States and Iran, we are publishing a blog series the IRGC’s regional and global footprint. We identifed IRGC sites and activity geospatially, which allow us to highlight potential hotspots and engagement zones if conflict were to break out in the near future.

Most recently, U.S. intelligence allegedly spotted IRGC forces loading assembled missiles onto small boats. The U.S. government has been considering responses to this increasing threat.

Some of the dominant sources in English language media characterize the threats suggested by U.S. intelligence as either exaggerated, or probable but unforeseen. However, official IRI and IRI-proxy statements suggest that they perceive increasing threats from the U.S. and therefore may have increased willingness to preemptively attack. Additionally, since the deployment of the U.S. carrier strike group, recent instances of nefarious activities allegedly perpetrated or directed by Iran at least support the conclusions divulged by U.S. officials. These trends indicate an increasing likelihood of escalation of conflict between the United States and Iran.

Potential IRGC Points of Attack and Targets

Some speculate that Iran may engage in various types of asymmetric attacks on U.S., allied, and partner interests in the Persian Gulf, and that the IRGC would likely perpetrate such attacks. Such an attack will likely prompt U.S. retaliatory attacks against IRGC facilities and personnel. Priority targets in such situations may include targeting communication capabilities– signals intelligence (SIGINT), military communications (MILCOMM), and anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) facilities. These sites are highlighted below.

Email Grace at to receive the full KMZ of IRGC sites.


  1. Gregory Matteson (History)

    A2AD = advanced anti-arcraft missile batteries. Jargon and acronym without explanation leaves us outsiders to puzzle out what you’re trying to say. Based on the icon you use, and the photo, I’m pretty sure you mean either Russian supplied mobile batteries or Iranian clones. Surely Iran has many more older anti-aircraft missile batteries, which I have to guess don’t count?