In this photo provided by the White House, President Donald Trump is joined by from left, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary mark Esper, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, Deputy Director for Special Operations on the Joint Staff, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington. monitoring developments as in the U.S. Special Operations forces raid that took out Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Shealah Craighead/The White House via AP)
For forty years, the Iranian mullahs have made a sport out of carrying out attacks against Americans and American interests with near impunity. Our embassy was invaded and our diplomats unlawfully held hostage for 444 days. Iranian inspired Lebanese terrorists kidnapped and murdered US citizens in Lebanon. The US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut was destroyed by an Iranian proxy. The US Khobar Towers housing facility in Saudi Arabia was attacked by Iranian proxies. US Navy ships were pirated and their crews held prisoners. And as the US has wound down its presence in the (in my view) nonsensical war on ISIS, Iranian-sponsored militias have stepped up a campaign of threats and harassment directed against US forces. US warships have been interfered with in international waters by Iran’s ‘navy.’ Iran has shot down a US drone in international airspace. Last Friday, an Iranian-sponsored and -controlled Iraqi militia, Kataib Hezbollah, carried out a rocket attack on a compound that housed some 100 US personnel. A civilian Department of Defense contractor was killed. In retaliation, the US launched airstrikes on five Kataib Hezbollah facilities killing over 25 militiamen. Iran retaliated by calling out a mob to try to pull a Benghazi on the US embassy in the Green Zone as a compliant and utterly emasculated Iraqi army stood by and watched. The administration acted immediately to reinforce the embassy and began to move the Ready Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division into the theater. Yesterday, the rent-a-mob dispersed but no one thinks that is the last word.
Today, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters that the US will not wait until the US embassy is in danger to react, if it suspects the Iranian-backed militias are planning something, we may strike before they do.
“We’re prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon, citing a series of violent attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq in recent months by Iran-supported militia groups.
The U.S. has “indications” that more Iranian provocations may be in the offing, Esper suggested without providing details.
“If that happens, then we will act and by the way, if we get word of attacks or some type indication, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces, to protect American lives,” he added.
Here he is again making the promise to preempt threats on FoxNews. The video is cued up for your convenience.
This was followed up by a statement by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley:
Speaking alongside Esper at the Pentagon, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has sufficient forces at the embassy in Baghdad to defend it.
“We are very confident that the integrity of that embassy is strong, and it is highly unlikely to be physically overrun by anyone,” he said. “There is sufficient combat power there, air and ground, that anyone who attempts to overrun that will run into a buzz saw.
This move was foreshadowed by President Trump a couple of days ago:
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
and they appear to indicate that the US has decided that the time has come to confront Iran’s adventurism
“Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said yesterday's U.S. airstrikes were “a turning point in the regional response to Iran and its proxies, and if Iran fails to understand the power of the US they will be making a big mistake."”
— David Shor (@DYShor) December 30, 2019
“The game has changed” pic.twitter.com/x5WN2tQDUg
— David Shor (@DYShor) January 2, 2020
VIDEO: We called in the 🚁 Air Cav @1stCavalryDiv, #Marines, & Iraqi Security Forces @SecMedCell, then the Kata’ib Hezbollah attackers went away. ✌🏼All quiet today at @USEmbBaghdad. The @CJTFOIR remains focused on partnering with Iraqis to crush ISIS remnants. pic.twitter.com/U7ZSxiLJYt
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) January 2, 2020
The game has changed, and, if what we are hearing from Baghdad right now is true, it has changed in a massive way.