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CENTCOM corrects British general: US forces in Iraq and Syria on heightened alert for Iranian attacks
A British two-star general had to eat his own words on Tuesday after contradicting the White House, which has warned that Iranian-backed forces could attack U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq.
"There's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria," Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a deputy commander for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing. "We are monitoring the Shia militia groups carefully and if the threat level perceives to go up them we will raise our force protection levels accordingly."
But after being pressed by reporters on the matter, Ghika engaged in verbal gymnastics to try to say he was on the same page as the White House by saying the coalition monitors a range of possible threats and it raises and lowers security levels appropriately.
Eventually, when a reporter asked Ghika what if the threat condition level in Baghdad has been raised, the general replied: "If you come to Baghdad and you come onto our base in Baghdad, then we'll tell you what the threat level is."
Later on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command issued a statement saying Ghika's comments "run counter to the identified credible threats" of Iranian-backed forces in the region.
"U.S. Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria," the statement says. "As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq."
Tensions with Iran have rocketed in the past week amid intelligence reports that Iran and its proxies could be preparing to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East. The Pentagon has approved sending more ships, bombers, and Patriot missiles to the Central Command region.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan recently briefed White House National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton on sending up to 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East should Iran attack the United States or accelerate its nuclear weapons program.
President Donald Trump disputed the story on Tuesday, telling reporters that he'd dispatch "a hell of a lot more troops than that" in case of war with Iran.
But Newsweek confirmed that Bolton has asked the Pentagon for a number of different scenarios to respond to Iran, ranging from airstrikes to pre-positioning the 120,000 U.S. troops to provide the initial footprint for a ground invasion of Iran that would involve a larger force.
WATCH NEXT: Gen. Petraeus On Shia Militias And Iran
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.