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Iran commander: New US warships in the Gulf are a target, not a threat
GENEVA (Reuters) - A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Sunday the U.S. military presence in the Gulf used to be a serious threat but now represents a target, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported.
The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East in a move that U.S. officials said was made to counter "clear indications" of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month.
"An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities," said Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' aerospace division.
"If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head," he added, according to ISNA.
U.S. President Donald Trump also has increased economic pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all its oil exports, to try to get Tehran to curb its nuclear and missile programs as well as end support for proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Speaking to CNBC in an interview to be broadcast on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. deployments came in response to intelligence about potential Iranian attacks and aimed both to deter them and to be able to respond if necessary.
"We've seen this reporting," Pompeo said. "It's real. It appears to be something that is current, that is things we're worried about today."
"In the event that Iran decided to come after an American interest - whether that be in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or any place in the Middle East - we are prepared to respond in an appropriate way," he said, adding that "our aim is not war."
Iranian navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said on Sunday that American forces must exit, according to ISNA. "The presence of the Americans in the Persian Gulf region has reached its end and they must leave the region," Khanzadi said.
Major General Hossein Salami, appointed head of the Guards last month, told parliament on Sunday the United States had started a psychological war in the region, the parliamentary spokesman said.
"Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter," spokesman Behrouz Nemati said, according to parliament's ICANA news site.
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The U.S. military will build 'facilities' to house at least 7,500 adult migrants, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to construct the facilities, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Chris Mitchell.
Defense officials will brief President Donald Trump's national security team on a plan that involves sending 5,000 more troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, Task & Purpose has learned.
So far, no decisions have been made about whether to send the reinforcements to the region, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.
"The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range," CNN reports. "Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified."
The Navy warship forged from World Trade Center steel has returned to New York for the first time in years
The thousands of sailors, Coasties and Marines who descend on New York City every year for Fleet Week are an awesome sight to behold on their own, but this year's confab of U.S. service members includes a uniquely powerful homecoming as well.
When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.
J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.
"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.
"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."
In what appear to be his first public remarks on U.S. national security since his resignation as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis offered a word of caution to President Donald Trump amid escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday.
"The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year," Mattis said during remarks in the United Arab Emirates.
"Iran's behavior must change," Mattis added, "[but] the military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."