Military to Give Trump Plans for Iran 09/20 06:38
The Pentagon will present a broad range of military options to President
Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to what administration
officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia's oil
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon will present a broad range of military
options to President Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to
what administration officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi
Arabia's oil industry.
In a White House meeting, the Republican president will be presented with a
list of potential airstrike targets inside Iran, among other possible
responses, and he will be warned that military action against the Islamic
Republic could escalate into war, according to U.S. officials familiar with the
discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The national security meeting will likely be the first opportunity for a
decision on how the U.S. should respond to the attack on a key Middle East
ally. Any decision may depend on what kind of evidence the U.S. and Saudi
investigators are able to provide proving that the cruise missile and drone
strike was launched by Iran, as a number of officials, including Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo, have asserted.
Iran has denied involvement and warned the U.S. that any attack will spark
an "all-out war" with immediate retaliation from Tehran.
Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil
facilities as "an act of war." Pence said Trump will "review the facts, and
he'll make a decision about next steps. But the American people can be
confident that the United States of America is going to defend our interest in
the region, and we're going to stand with our allies."
The U.S. response could involve military, political and economic actions,
and the military options could range from no action at all to airstrikes or
less visible moves such as cyberattacks. One likely move would be for the U.S.
to provide additional military support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from
attacks from the north, since most of its defenses have focused on threats from
Houthis in Yemen to the south.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized to a
small number of journalists traveling with him Monday that the question of
whether the U.S. responds is a "political judgment" and not for the military.
"It is my job to provide military options to the president should he decide
to respond with military force," Dunford said.
Trump will want "a full range of options," he said. "In the Middle East, of
course, we have military forces there and we do a lot of planning and we have a
lot of options."
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said in an interview Thursday that if
Trump "chooses an option that involves a significant military strike on Iran
that, given the current climate between the U.S. and Iran, there is a
possibility that it could escalate into a medium to large-scale war, I believe
the president should come to Congress."
Slotkin, a former top Middle East policy adviser for the Pentagon, said she
hopes Trump considers a broad range of options, including the most basic
choice, which would be to place more forces and defensive military equipment in
and around Saudi Arabia to help increase security.
A forensic team from U.S. Central Command is pouring over evidence from
cruise missile and drone debris, but the Pentagon said the assessment is not
finished. Officials are trying to determine if they can get navigational
information from the debris that could provide hard evidence that the strikes
came from Iran.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday that the U.S. has a high
level of confidence that officials will be able to accurately determine exactly
who launched the attacks last weekend.
U.S. officials were unwilling to predict what kind of response Trump will
choose. In June, after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, Trump
initially endorsed a retaliatory military strike then abruptly called it off
because he said it would have killed dozens of Iranians. The decision
underscores the president's long-held reluctance to embroil the country in
another war in the Middle East.
Instead, Trump opted to have U.S. military cyber forces carry out a strike
against military computer systems used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard to control
rocket and missile launchers, according to U.S. officials.
The Pentagon said the U.S. military is working with Saudi Arabia to find
ways to provide more protection for the northern part of the country.
Air Force Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told
Pentagon reporters Wednesday that U.S. Central Command is talking with the
Saudis about ways to mitigate future attacks. He would not speculate on what
types of support could be provided.
Other U.S. officials have said adding Patriot missile batteries and enhanced
radar systems could be options, but no decisions have been made.