The top U.S. military commander told lawmakers Wednesday that Iran should be “very very cautious” with how it proceeds.
The comments from Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman, follow a spate of nine attacks that have rocked U.S. installations and interests in Iraq over the last several weeks. A number of those attacks, including the Dec. 3 rocket attack that struck al-Asad airbase, have been blamed on Iran.
“We are in a period of heightened risk with respect to Iran,” Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman told lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill. But the top American commander explained that “restraint in this particular situation is an appropriate response.”
Milley’s response on Iran came from a question posed by Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, who asked Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the Joint Chiefs chairman: “When is enough enough on Iran? When is our restraint being interpreted by them as weakness?”
“The ball is in the Iranian court,” Milley said. How they respond and the size and scope of that response will determine a U.S. answer, he explained to lawmakers.
As the U.S. flexes troops, ships and aircraft to the Middle East to deter Iranian threats, Tehran appears to be answering in kind by bolstering missile forces, adding new fast-attack ships and moving troops across the region.
Nearly 14,000 additional American troops have been deployed to the Middle East over the last six months in response to malign Iranian behavior from attacks on commercial tankers in the Persian Gulf over the summer to the attack on two Saudi Arabian oil fields in September that U.S. officials say was carried out by Tehran.
Iran-backed attacks in Iraq risks uncontrollable escalation -U.S…. t.co/r1EYb4L1fq
— EndGameWW3 (@EndGameWW3) December 11, 2019
Iranian state news agency has released satellite image shows U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transited the Strait of Hormuz escorted by 20 Iranian Revolutionary Guard small craft.
According to media reports, a group of twenty Iranian Revolutionary Guard small craft ‘harassed’ the U.S. aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln with the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) during its transit the Strait of Hormuz.
It also added that some of the Iranian small craft were approaching within 400 yards to American ships.