The Pentagon today denied reports that the US military was ramping up Iran war plans. CBS reported on Tuesday that the Pentagon has decided to keep two carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf and has ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran.
The report identified Iran’s “increasingly hostile role” in Iraq as the reason behind the planning.
“I'm not aware of any ramping up or revision of war plans for Iran,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters traveling in Mexico with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
“The focus of our efforts to combat the supplying of arms, the training of terrorists in Iraq by the Iranians continues to be within the confines of Iraq,” Morrell added.
There have been rising military tensions between Iran and the US in the past few days.
Last Thursday, the Westward Venture, a ship on charter to US Military Sea Command, fired warning shots on two IRGC patrol boats that had approached the ship within 100 yards.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen on Friday expressed concern over Iran’s role in Iraq. He did say that the Pentagon was planning for “potential military courses of actions” against Iran. Adm. Mullen added that a conflict with Iran would be “extremely distressing” but not impossible for US forces, pointing specifically to reserve capabilities in the Navy and the Air Force. “It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability,” Adm. Mullen said.
[Iraq’s National Security Advisor Mowaffak Al-Rubaie also accused Iran of backing the Mahdi Army in Iraq. A report by McClatchy Newspapers on Monday described in details the role of IRGC-Quds Force Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani in Iraq.]
On Tuesday, USS Abraham Lincoln and its strike group entered the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon had earlier announced the Abraham Lincoln was to replace Harry S. Truman Strike Group, but it decided yesterday to keep both in the Persian Gulf. The combined air capability comprise of some 100 F-18 fighters and scores of electronic warfare aircraft and attack helicopters. The naval force includes the two carriers and nearly 20 destroyers, frigates and support ships. Lots of fire power.
What the Pentagon was saying today might indicate that an attack on Iran is highly unlikely, but an attack on IRGC targets within or near Iraq is possible.