The U.S. Department of Defense today responded to a warning issued by Iran’s army commander to keep US aircraft carriers out of the Persian Gulf by declaring that American warships will continue regularly scheduled deployments to the strategic waterway.
George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Navy operates in the Gulf in accordance with international law and to maintain “a constant state of high vigilance” to ensure the flow of sea commerce.
Earlier today, the commander of Iran’s regular military warned the American aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis not to return to the Persian Gulf. The aircraft carrier left the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz last week after visiting UAE’s port of Jabal Ali.
“The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades,” Mr. Little said. “These are regularly scheduled movements in accordance with our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations.” [AP, 3 January].
The US Navy 5th Fleet has long been headquartered in Bahrain. It was not clear why the Iranian army chief made the explicit threat ("We warn only once"), knowing that the US Navy Fleet is based in Bahrain, and its carries would regularly pass through the Strait of Hormuz. It was also not clear how Gen. Salehi would react to the Pentagon's declaration that it will indeed continue its presence in the Persian Gulf and its carriers will pass through the Strait.