Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Miley traveled to Mar-a-Lago today to brief President Trump on issues around the middle-east. The three leaders also held a press briefing this evening about U.S. military strikes that took place earlier today.
At the beginning of his remarks Secretary Pompeo stated “we came to Florida today to brief the president on activities that have taken place in the Middle East over the course of the last 72 hours.” Additionally Pompeo said he would let Esper discuss “the military aspects but I wanted to put into context our policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Secretary Pompeo: “The attack that took place against the Iraqi facility threatened American forces. This has been going on now for weeks and weeks and weeks. This wasn’t the first set of attacks against this particular Iraqi facility and others where there were American lives at risk. And today what we did is take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”
“We will always honor that commitment to take decisive actions when that takes place. We continue to demand the Islamic Republic of Iran act in a way that is consistent with what I laid out back in May 2018, for what it is that we expect Iran to do so that it can rejoin the community of nations.”
Secretary Esper: “DoD took offensive actions in defense of our personnel and interests in Iraq by launching F-15 Strike Eagles against five targets associated with Kata’ib Hezbollah, which is an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group. The targets we attacked included three targets in Western Iraq and two targets in Eastern Syria, that were either command and control facilities or weapons caches for Kata’ib Hezbollah.”
“The strikes were successful. The pilots and aircraft returned back to base safely. I would add that in our discussion today with the president, we discussed with him other options that are available. And I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran. Thank you.”
General Milley, in uniform, did not speak. The men left without taking questions. Hogan Gidley from the WH press office presided. Reporting by David Martosko.
Personal and cynical note: The absence of a visible President Trump on the issue is noted; neither is there a tweet or a citation for a comment therein. Additionally, I wouldn’t trust that trio (Pompeo, Esper and Milley) as far as I could spit.
With strong indications that President Trump is working earnestly to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the tail of the war machine is predisposed to wag the dog.