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Defense Secretary says US military 'will be available' to escort commercial ships passing Iran
The U.S. military could escort American ships through key waterways in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Wednesday.
"We will escort our ships to the degree that the risk demands it," Esper said at a Pentagon media availability.
However, Esper stressed on Wednesday that he was not announcing that U.S. Navy ships and aircraft would immediately begin escorting U.S. commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz to deter Iranian aggression.
"I'm not saying that right now," Esper said. "I'm just saying this is one of the things I'm going to see with CENTCOM next week as I understand their concept of the operations. Again, to the degree of course United States vessels need an escort, we will be there. We will be available to them."
Iran has recently seized foreign ships as tensions with the United States and Europe have risen sharply over the past few months, prompting U.S. Central Command to announce on July 19 that it was developing Operation Sentinel, a multinational mission to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Oman.
"This maritime security framework will enable nations to provide escort to their flagged vessels while taking advantage of the cooperation of participating nations for coordination and enhanced maritime domain awareness and surveillance," a CENTCOM news release says.
The U.S. military will determine whether a U.S. commercial ship requires an escort if they face the threat of being stopped or seized, Esper said.
Esper said he will discuss with CENTCOM commanders exactly what escorting U.S. commercial ships would involve. He also explained that U.S. warships do not need to be right next to a commercial ship in order to protect it.
"As long as you're in the area that you can react quick enough to deter a provocation, that's the key," Esper said. "I don't necessarily mean that every U.S.-flagged ship going through the Strait [of Hormuz] has a destroyer right behind it."
Operation Sentinel is meant to stop the Iranians from taking provocative actions that could lead to a war, Esper said. Should the Iranians attempt to capture a U.S.-flagged commercial ship, the U.S. military would intervene.
"Absolutely, we would want to prevent it," Esper said. "We would want to prevent the Iranians seizing or stopping a ship, certainly for any arbitrary reason whatsoever."
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Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Verizon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Verizon is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.
Verizon values leadership, motivation, self-discipline, and hard work — all characteristics that veterans bring to the table. Sometimes, however, veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian workplace. They may need guidance on interview skills and resume writing, for example.
By participating in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program and developing internal programs to help veterans find their place, Verizon continues its support of the military community and produces exceptional leaders.
CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State's media network on Monday issued an audio message purporting to come from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying operations were taking place daily and urging freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria over their alleged links to the group.
"Daily operations are underway on different fronts," he said in the 30-minute tape published by the Al Furqan network, in what would be his first message since April. He cited several regions such as Mali and the Levant but gave no dates.
'An insane game changer' — Soldiers are about to receive the Army's most advanced night vision goggles yet
Soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division are just days away from becoming the first to get their hands on the most advanced night vision goggles the Army has fielded yet.