Defense Secretary says US military 'will be available' to escort commercial ships passing Iran

USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and US Air Force Flex On ...

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."

SEE ALSO: Video shows masked Iranian commandos rappelling onto British tanker in Strait of Hormuz

WATCH NEXT: Gen. Petraeus On Shia Militias And Iran

Naval Air Station Pensacola provides security for the Active investigation area onboard NAS Pensacola December 9, 2019. (Navy photo/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Dan Mennuto)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Defense has released some information on its revamped approach to vetting and security concerns for foreign military students in the United States.

Some initial information came Friday, a few days before Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's visit to Naval Air Station Pensacola to discuss new vetting and security procedures with installation leadership.

The DoD began its review of those procedures following the Dec. 6 shooting at NAS Pensacola that left three people dead and eight others injured. The gunman, 21-year-old Saudi lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a flight student, was fatally shot by an Escambia County sheriff's deputy.

Read More

In a Galaxy — err, I mean, on a military base far, far away, soldiers are standing in solidarity with galactic freedom fighters.

Sitting at the top of an Army press release from March 2019, regarding the East Africa Response Force's deployment to Gabon, the photo seems, at first glance, just like any other: Soldiers on the move.

But if you look closer at the top right, you'll find something spectacular: A Rebel Alliance flag.

Read More

Three sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower have been charged in connection with the Dec. 17 brawl at a holiday party in Norfolk, Virginia, that was caught on video.

Read More
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives for the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

DUBAI (Reuters) - An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who killed U.S. President Donald Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms, ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday amid Tehran's latest standoff with Washington.

U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood dismissed the reward as "ridiculous", telling reporters in Geneva it showed the "terrorist underpinnings" of Iran's establishment.

Read More
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2018)

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swiss officials foiled an apparent spying operation by Russians posing as plumbers in Davos, site of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, but police did not confirm key details of the account.

The report in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper said the two Russians were checked by Swiss police in August last year in the ski resort, which is hosting the WEF gathering of the global business and political elite this week. The pair presented diplomatic passports and left the country, the paper said.

Read More