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Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper announced on December 29 that F-15E Strike Eagles bombed several Khomenist Iranian regime proxy force sites in Iraq and Syria. This apparently followed repeated provocations, attacks on Iraqi government forces where there were also U.S. forces in the vicinity. Such attacks would be intended to push U.S. forces into more and more protective isolation or withdrawal from the region, ceding regional influence to the Iranian ayatollahs.

The airstrikes back the increasing campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure, which is squeezing the thugocracy as the population increasingly shows unrest and discontent with the regime.

Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper briefed the press, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley standing by their side. They had just briefed President Trump on the strikes’ effects and on further capabilities and options at his disposal. Did you also notice that we have not seen “Little Rocket Man” make a show of force as threatened for Christmas? This operation, which was not leaked in advance by a Vindman, or a real Deep State operative, also reminds other nations that this president will act with lethal force when U.S. forces are threatened.

Following the secretaries’ briefing, the Pentagon released a written statement with some more details:

Statement From Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Jonathan Hoffman
DEC. 29, 2019

In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces.

The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.

Recent KH strikes included a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

KH has a strong linkage with Iran’s Quds Force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack OIR coalition forces.

The OIR coalition is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and provide advice and assistance to the ISF. The U.S. and its coalition partners fully respect Iraqi sovereignty, and support a strong and independent Iraq. The U.S., however, will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defense.

It is important to note that KH attacks have also injured multiple members of the ISF. Secretary Esper and Prime Minister Mahdi have shared with each other their commitment to see these KH attacks on ISF and OIR forces cease once and for all.

Iran and their KH proxy forces must cease their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, and respect Iraq’s sovereignty, to prevent additional defensive actions by U.S. forces.

UPDATE: 1 January 2020:

The decision to have the two lead cabinet members issue this statement together when they did was prudent. They got the U.S. position out before the Iranian regime could take the next step with its proxy forces. The Khomenists’ proxy forces have now attacked the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, as a Khomenist regime aligned “mob” smashed its way into the embassy grounds. They were driven back out without bloodshed on either side.

This was an attack on our sovereign soil and an indicator that the Iraqi government is incapable or uninterested in really meeting its basic obligations. President Trump made clear that he understood who was really directing the crew that breached our embassy perimeter, and said what every president should say.

The Secretary of State pinned the rose on the Iraqi government:

Secretary Pompeo’s Calls with Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi and President Salih
READOUT

OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON

DECEMBER 31, 2019

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih separately by phone today from his office in Washington, D.C. The Secretary made clear the United States will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq. Both Abdul-Mahdi and Salih assured the Secretary that they took seriously their responsibility for and would guarantee the safety and security of U.S. personnel and property.

Secretary of Defense Esper also pinned the rose squarely on Iraq, while reminding everyone that we take care of our own under this president:

DOD Statement on Iraq From Secretary Esper
DEC. 31, 2019

Statement by Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper:

“The Department of Defense is working closely with the Department of State to ensure the security of our Embassy and personnel in Baghdad. We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats in country, and to ensure our right of self-defense. We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy. As in all countries, we rely on host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel in country, and we call on the Government of Iraq to fulfill its international responsibilities to do so. The United States continues to support the Iraqi people and a free, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq.”

Having issued appropriate statements and taken reasonable action, the Trump administration is carrying on, with Secretary of State Pompeo having announced travel to four nations on Russia’s borders. January 3-7, Secretary Pompeo will visit Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Uzbekistan, then stop by Cyprus on the way home. The first four visits needle Putin. At the same time, Kazakstan and Uzbekistan are very important to China’s Belt and Road strategy for world dominance through economic and infrastructure development, so Secretary Pompeo will be addressing leaders who are caught between the bear and the dragon.

Iran is controlled by a Khomenist faction of ayatollahs (think roughly archbishop/cardinal) who have earned the increasing contempt and resistance of the people they rule. Since no one was killed in this attack on our embassy, I would expect the response to be more targeted economic/financial actions on the regime and its leaders/enablers. I would expect the next U.S. military actions to be more strikes on Iranian regime proxy forces in Syria and elsewhere in the region, diminishing the Khomenists’ ability to project power and stir up trouble in the region.

There are 14 comments.

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  1. Nohaaj Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown: Did you also notice that we have not seen “Little Rocket Man” make a show of force as threatened for Christmas? This operation, which was not leaked in advance by a Vindman, or a real Deep State operative, also reminds other nations that this president will act with lethal force when U.S. forces are threatened.

    Yes, there is a strong message to the world, which is as it should be. I am sure that the left will somehow try to associate this to Clinton’s Baby Formula factory bombing, and diminish the act. 

    • #1
    • December 30, 2019, at 5:05 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Stad Thatcher

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Did you also notice that we have not seen “Little Rocket Man” make a show of force as threatened for Christmas? This operation, which was not leaked in advance by a Vindman, or a real Deep State operative, also reminds other nations that this president will act with lethal force when U.S. forces are threatened.

    Yes, there is a strong message to the world, which is as it should be. I am sure that the left will somehow try to associate this to Clinton’s Baby Formula factory bombing, and diminish the act.

    Actions speak louder than words. Whether it’s a red line in the sand for Assad, or appointing conservatives to the bench, Trump rarely fails to back up his words with actions. Where he does fail is when he needs help from Congress. Build the wall already . . .

    • #2
    • December 30, 2019, at 5:39 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We should wipe out another Iranian base.

    • #3
    • January 1, 2020, at 5:19 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Kozak Member
    KozakJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Apparently elements of the 82nd Airborne are on their way to Kuwait.

    • #4
    • January 1, 2020, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Cow Girl Thatcher

    It’s great having grown-ups in charge in times like this.

    • #5
    • January 1, 2020, at 9:17 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Kozak Member
    KozakJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/12/31/least-500-fort-bragg-paratroopers-deploying-kuwait-amid-baghdad-unrest-officials.html

     

    • #6
    • January 1, 2020, at 9:38 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Kozak (View Comment):

    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/12/31/least-500-fort-bragg-paratroopers-deploying-kuwait-amid-baghdad-unrest-officials.html

     

    That makes sense, as the 82nd has been our 911 force for many decades. They always have an element ready to board Air Force aircraft, always also on alert status, on hours notice. Sounds like the battalion/Brigade at the top of the alert cycle got the order to go.

    • #7
    • January 1, 2020, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Django Member

     

    • #8
    • January 2, 2020, at 4:31 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Stad Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown: Iran is controlled by a Khomenist faction of ayatollahs (think roughly archbishop/cardinal) who have earned the increasing contempt and resistance of the people they rule.

    Now that a top general has been eliminated, I wonder if Trump will make a direct threat against the ayatollahs themselves – behave, or eat a Tomahawk for breakfast . . .

    • #9
    • January 3, 2020, at 6:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. The Reticulator Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Iran is controlled by a Khomenist faction of ayatollahs (think roughly archbishop/cardinal) who have earned the increasing contempt and resistance of the people they rule.

    Now that a top general has been eliminated, I wonder if Trump will make a direct threat against the ayatollahs themselves – behave, or eat a Tomahawk for breakfast . . .

    I doubt it. He seems to be acting carefully and deliberately rather than impulsively on this. There’s a time an place for bombastic threats, and this is probably not it.

    • #10
    • January 3, 2020, at 6:36 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Iran is controlled by a Khomenist faction of ayatollahs (think roughly archbishop/cardinal) who have earned the increasing contempt and resistance of the people they rule.

    Now that a top general has been eliminated, I wonder if Trump will make a direct threat against the ayatollahs themselves – behave, or eat a Tomahawk for breakfast . . .

    I doubt it. He seems to be acting carefully and deliberately rather than impulsively on this. There’s a time an place for bombastic threats, and this is probably not it.

    Yes. In addition, the general he had killed was also the head of an officially designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. I just posted on that in: “Winter Turning to Summer of Discontent?

    • #11
    • January 3, 2020, at 6:22 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    I thought it noteworthy that an unnamed Pentagon source claims that “an Army brigade” has been put on alert for Lebanon:

    Around 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq to train Iraqi forces and help in the fight against Islamic State group militants. Defense officials who discussed the new troop movements spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon. A Pentagon official who was not authorized to be identified said the U.S. also had placed an Army brigade on alert to fly into Lebanon to protect the American Embassy. U.S. embassies also issued a security alert for Americans in Bahrain, Kuwait and Nigeria.

    That would be a garbled way of saying that the 82nd Airborne has a “be prepared” order to respond to Iran’s oldest and most effective proxy, the original Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah actually runs the government and the military, such as it is, in Lebanon. They blew up a hotel/barracks full of Marines during President Reagan’s tenure. Naturally, the American embassy in Lebanon would be of particular concern now.

    • #12
    • January 3, 2020, at 8:48 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    I’ve posted separately about the 82nd Airborne and 26th MEU as they respond to the larger terrorist/unconventional warfare campaign that the IRGC Quds Force leader, now dead, was planning: “Lebanon? Wasn’t this about Iraq? A brief note to the perplexed.

    • #13
    • January 3, 2020, at 10:28 PM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Stad Thatcher

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Iran is controlled by a Khomenist faction of ayatollahs (think roughly archbishop/cardinal) who have earned the increasing contempt and resistance of the people they rule.

    Now that a top general has been eliminated, I wonder if Trump will make a direct threat against the ayatollahs themselves – behave, or eat a Tomahawk for breakfast . . .

    I doubt it. He seems to be acting carefully and deliberately rather than impulsively on this. There’s a time an place for bombastic threats, and this is probably not it.

    Good point. Actually, he doesn’t have to say it . . .

    • #14
    • January 4, 2020, at 6:33 AM PST
    • 2 likes

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