Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Defense Secretary: U.S. continues to deploy, reposition troops in Middle East

Recommended

Smart weapons and their role in the technological transformation of modern defense infrastructure

Accelerating technological advancement, especially in the digital spectrum, has asserted its impact on nearly all realms of life. Having its roots in the commercial...

Russian fighter jets again intercept U.S. spy plane as it flew close to Crimea

Russian SU-27 fighter aircraft scrambled on Wednesday to intercept U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint spy plane flying over the Black Sea. The Russian defense...

Russia denies that Washington could buy Turkey’s S-400 systems

The Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation has denied that U.S. would be able to buy Turkey’s Russian-made S-400 air defense system under...

Sierra Nevada gets $700M contract to provide AC/MC-130J fleet with advanced electronic warfare technology

Sierra Nevada Corp. has secured a $700 million contract from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for the development and procurement of Radio Frequency Countermeasure (RFCM)...

U.S. Army selects Kongsberg to develop wireless lethality for new gen robotic combat vehicles

The U.S. Army has selected Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to provide a wireless fire control capability to support its future medium caliber lethality needs...

The United States continues to deploy and reposition troops throughout the region of Iraq and Iran to bolster U.S. security and force protection and to be prepared for any contingency, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.

“Over the last several days, I’ve had many conversations with our partners and allies about the situation in Iraq and the region,” the secretary told reporters at an impromptu Pentagon news conference today.

“It’s been uniform support for our position and our actions, and I continue to convey to them the importance we continue to place on the defeat-ISIS position,” Esper said of the U.S. drone attack that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, one of the most powerful figures in the region.

Deterring Iran from its bad behavior and standing up to that behavior has been going on for 40-plus years, the secretary added. “And … we remain prepared for any contingency with regard to Iran,” he said.

The U.S. message is that the ball is in Iran’s court, and the United States encourages Iran to de-escalate the situation, Esper said, adding that the United States is open to discussing issues and having a more normal relationship with Iran. “But if Iran chooses to go the other path, we are prepared to deal with that and will respond forcefully,” he said.

No decision whatsoever has been made for the United States to leave Iraq, the secretary said, reemphasizing the U.S. commitment to Iraq to defeat ISIS and noting the escalation of attacks by Iranian and proxy groups attacking U.S. forces.In recent months, the secretary said, nearly a dozen such attacks took place, escalating in size, scale and types of weapons, including one attack that killed an American.

Esper said the Iranians fired 31 rockets that weren’t meant to harass, but were designed to kill people and destroy things. “Then we had the siege of the embassy,” he added.

He called the strike that killed the Quds Force leader a matter of self-defense carried out to protect Americans.

“When we looked at this operation, we knew there would be consequences; we knew there’d be risks,” said Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who joined Esper in briefing reporters. “We didn’t take any of it lightly. We knew we’d have to address [the posture of U.S. Central Command troops] for force protection in the immediate aftermath of this particular strike operation.”

“How do you expect us not to respond when they’ve been killing our people for 20 years?” Esper asked. “Soleimani alone has the blood of hundreds of Americans; he’s wounded thousands of American coalition partners. He is a terrorist, a leader of a terrorist organization who’s been killing and attacking Americans for 20-some years, and the blood is on his hands.”

Soleimani was planning attacks on American forces, Esper said. “This whole narrative that’s being turned around is silly,” he added.

“We knew his history, and importantly, we knew his future,” Milley said, noting that while the evidence cannot be discussed, the evidence was compelling that Soleimani was planning, organizing and synchronizing significant combat operations against U.S. military forces in the region and it was an imminent decision-making event.

“We would have been culpably negligent to the American people had we not made the decision we made,” the general said. But even with Soleimani dead, he said, it doesn’t mean the strike eliminated all threats.

“There’s still significant risk operating throughout the Middle East, and specifically in Iraq,” Milley said.

As to the United States attacking Iran’s cultural sites, U.S. forces will follow the laws of armed conflict, Esper said.

Milley also addressed an unsigned letter from Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely, the commanding general of Task Force, Iraq, that was addressed to Iraq’s Defense Ministry. The letter was a draft that was sent out unintentionally, the chairman said.

It addressed plans to withdraw American troops from the region, per the Iraqi parliament vote over the weekend to send U.S. troops home, and it was composed because the U.S. military is moving forces around, Milley said.

“We have increased helicopter movement in Iraq between Baghdad and Taji and other camps and stations, and we are bringing in forces from Kuwait,” he explained. “So there are increased levels of U.S. troops movements in rotary-wing helicopters.”

The draft was sent to the Iraqis to get their feedback, Milley said. “The long and the short of it is [that] it was an honest mistake by people trying to do the right things in highly dynamic situations. It should not have been sent.”

If you wish to report grammatical or factual errors within our news articles, you can let us know by using the online feedback form.

Executive Editor

TRENDING NOW

U.S. Army looks to buy Soviet-made special ammunition and weapon systems

The U.S. Army is buying an unspecified number of the Non-NATO standard ammunition and Soviet-era weapon systems, according to a government’s main contracting website...

U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress arrives in Guam

The U.S. Air Force has deployed B-52H Stratofortress nuclear-capable bomber Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on July 4. The B-52H Stratofortress bomber, assigned to the...

Russia discloses new details of electromagnetic pulse cannon

Russian defense industry sources have disclosed the new details of the electromagnetic pulse cannon capable of hitting targets 6 miles away. The new super cannon...

Serbia receives Chinese-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles

Ministry of the defense Republic of Serbia has taken delivery of the first CH-92A unmanned combat aerial vehicles from China. The surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned...

Related News

Russia develops new radar for tracking hypersonic-speed threats

The 'Krasnaya Zvezda' newspaper cited Russia’s Aerospace Force Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Sergei Surovikin as saying that Russian specialists are developing a new radar system...

Russia discloses new details of electromagnetic pulse cannon

Russian defense industry sources have disclosed the new details of the electromagnetic pulse cannon capable of hitting targets 6 miles away. The new super cannon...

Patria, Kongsberg to build U.S. Army’s future mortar system

Finnish aerospace and defense Patria Group, along with its partner Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, has announced that it will develop a new mortar system...

Russia begins trials of new generation unmanned ground vehicle

Russia has begun trials of the new Marker unmanned ground system, the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects announced on 29 June. The Marker unmanned...