On December 22, 2018, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV aired a report on a seven-day exercise carried out by the IRGC on the island of Qeshm in southern Iran. The report said that while the exercises are offensive in nature, they are a reaction to recent developments in the Middle East and do not reflect a departure from Iran's strategy of deterrence. The IRGC's commander, Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari, explained that the offensive approach is directed at anybody who attempts to disrupt stability in the region, and that Iran is increasing its readiness for deterrent and offensive action. Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, who is the IRGC's spokesman, said that the exercises are a direct warning to those who support terrorism and an indirect warning to those who allow their territory to be used for the purposes of infiltrating Iran.
Reporter: The IRGC’s ground forces began military exercises on the island of Qeshm in southern Iran. The exercises have changed from being defensive to offensive in nature. This change does not reflect a departure from [Iran’s] strategy of deterrence. Rather, the developments and circumstances in the region require deterrence through offensive means.
Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari Commander of the IRGC: Our shift from defense to offense does not mean that we constitute a danger or threat to the neighboring countries. Our offensive approach is directed at anybody who attempts to disrupt the stability in the region and control it. The recent developments in the region require us to increase our readiness for deterrent and offensive action.
Reporter: The IRGC’s exercises will last seven days. The final stage of the exercises begins with the execution of tactics and operational plans by the Quick Reaction Units and the Special Forces, followed by to the auxiliary ground and air units. Medium-range missiles and drones play a role at every stage of the exercise. The main role of the drones is to monitor for any American provocation.
Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour Commander of IRGC Ground Forces: During the exercises, an American aircraft carrier entered the Gulf region. Specifically, they were close to where the exercises are being carried out. We identified the ship and warned it to leave the area. This incident occurred again. We are always ready to face such a situation.
Reporter: The military commanders say that the exercises deliver a message of peace to the region. To foreign [powers], the exercises deliver a different message: all options are on the table, especially with regard to responding to terrorism.
Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif IRGC Spokesman: One of the messages of these exercises is a direct warning to those who support terrorism – through logistics, intelligence, or armament. The exercises also serve as an indirect warning to those who allow their territory to be used for the purpose of infiltrating Iran in order to disrupt our security and stability.
Reporter: The military commanders say that the exercises are not a mere demonstration. Rather, they constitute a preparation for a possible conflict. This is in addition to increased defensive readiness, to face any reckless act on the part of the foreign powers in the region.