Defense Leaders Announce Steps to Deter Further Iranian Malign Behavior
(Source: Department of Defense; issued Sept. 20, 2019)
Defense leaders announced the steps the United States will take to deter Iran's continued aggressive and malign behavior in the Persian Gulf.

At a Pentagon news conference today after White House meetings, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also called on other nations to condemn the Iranian attacks on Saudi Arabia, and to help protect the critical Saudi oil infrastructure.

"The Iranian regime is waging a deliberate campaign to destabilize the Middle East and impose costs on the international economy," Esper said.

Iran has increased its military activity in the Persian Gulf, placing mines on oil tankers and seizing a British oil tanker. Iran shot down an American unmanned aerial vehicle operating in international airspace. All this pales in comparison to the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Esper said the drone and cruise missile attacks on the oil facilities represent a dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression.

"It is clear based on detailed exploitation by Saudi, United States and other international investigative teams that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian-produced and not launched from Yemen," Esper said. "All indications are that Iran was responsible for the attack."

The United States will protect its citizens and interests in the region. "The international community has a responsibility to protect the global economy and international rules and norms," Esper said.

Iran threatens these rules with its violence. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates asked the United States for support to protect critical infrastructure, and President Donald J. Trump has approved deployment of U.S. forces to the region. The forces will be defensive and focused on air and missile defense, Esper said. "We will also work to speed the delivery of military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves," he added.

Esper said the support will send a clear message that the United States supports its partners in the region, will help ensure the free flow of resources necessary for the health of the global economy, and will demonstrate America's commitment to the rules-based order.

Dunford said the request from Saudi Arabia came in this morning via Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. The chairman said he will discuss the request with Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and will be in a better position next week to announce the types of capabilities that will be deployed and the numbers of troops that will accompany them. The number of troops would probably be in the hundreds, Dunford said.

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US to Send Troops, Military Equipment to Saudi Arabia, UAE
(Source: Voice of America News; issued Sept 20, 2019)
WASHINGTON --- The U.S. is sending additional military forces and air defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said Friday night.

The announcement came after last weekend's attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations for which U.S. officials said Iran was responsible, an allegation that Tehran denies.

President Donald Trump “has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

Esper said the U.S. was responding to requests from Saudi and United Arab Emirates to improve their air and missile defenses after the September 14 assault, which exposed the vulnerability of the region's oil facilities to drone and cruise missile attacks.

Details regarding the U.S. deployments were to be discussed over the weekend and released next week, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday.

“Secretary [Mike] Pompeo just came back this morning, and the Saudis asked for enhanced capabilities,” Dunford said. “We haven’t decided on specific units,” but those chosen would help enhance the countries’ air missile defenses.

Hours after the U.S. announced the deployment, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, warned that his forces "are ready for any scenario." Salami added: "If anyone crosses our borders, we will hit them."

Also late Friday, the United Nations announced that it has sent a four-member team of international experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate the attacks on the oil installations.

Earlier, Trump announced new sanctions against Iran's national bank Friday, further escalating economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, but pulling back from any direct military action.

"I think the sanctions work," Trump said during a joint White House news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Trump also said "the military would work, but that is a very severe form of winning."

But Trump said he was not planning a military response to the attacks, telling reporters in the Oval Office, “the strong person approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint.”

Trump warned, however, that “Iran knows if they misbehave, they’re on borrowed time.”

Trump announced the sanctions as his administration weighs options on Iran, including actions to further weaken its economy, deploying more U.S. troops to the Middle East region and targeted military strikes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday a U.S. or Saudi Arabian military strike against his country would trigger "an all-out war."

The United States previously imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran because of its alleged nuclear program. But the U.S. Treasury Department said Friday the latest sanctions were imposed because Iran’s central bank engaged in “terrorism” by providing “billions of dollars” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has often said that any negotiations between himself and Trump can only occur if the U.S. first provides sanctions relief.

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