WASHINGTON — The threat from Iran remains but continues to be checked by U.S. military reinforcements rushed to the area last month, the top U.S. commander for the region said Friday.
“I hesitate to say that deterrence has been established,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Associated Press, one of the media outlets in the Pentagon pool on his trip to Iraq. “We continue to see possible imminent threats” of a potential Iranian attack, he said.
McKenzie requested reinforcements when intelligence showed a significant increase in Iranian adventurism around and toward U.S and allies’ military assets in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Among the reinforcements were the advancing of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group to the region by two weeks, B-52 bombers, a Marine amphibious unit, and Patriot missile batteries.
“I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished,” McKenzie told reporters. “I believe the threat is very real.”
McKenzie told NBC that the threat by Iran or their proxies is “imminent” and that “we continually evaluate our force posture in the region.” He said Iranian drones have been probing U.S. bases in the region.
“They probe for weakness all the time,” McKenzie said. “I would say the threat has probably evolved in certain ways even as our defensive posture has changed and become more aggressive, and we certainly thank our Iraqi partners for many of the things they’ve done.
“I think we’re still in the period of what I would call tactical warning,” he told NBC.
President Donald Trump has used the alleged threat from Iran as his justification to declare a national emergency and skirt the law to send $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan without a vote of approval by Congress.
Those weapons include precision-guided munitions, mortars and fighter-jet engines — all with extended periods of time to be built and delivered.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that Saudi Arabia is reportedly expanding both its missile infrastructure and technology with recent purchases from China.