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Military to Give Trump Plans for Iran  09/20 06:38

   The Pentagon will present a broad range of military options to President 
Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to what administration 
officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia's oil 
industry.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon will present a broad range of military 
options to President Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to 
what administration officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi 
Arabia's oil industry.

   In a White House meeting, the Republican president will be presented with a 
list of potential airstrike targets inside Iran, among other possible 
responses, and he will be warned that military action against the Islamic 
Republic could escalate into war, according to U.S. officials familiar with the 
discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

   The national security meeting will likely be the first opportunity for a 
decision on how the U.S. should respond to the attack on a key Middle East 
ally. Any decision may depend on what kind of evidence the U.S. and Saudi 
investigators are able to provide proving that the cruise missile and drone 
strike was launched by Iran, as a number of officials, including Secretary of 
State Mike Pompeo, have asserted.

   Iran has denied involvement and warned the U.S. that any attack will spark 
an "all-out war" with immediate retaliation from Tehran.

   Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil 
facilities as "an act of war." Pence said Trump will "review the facts, and 
he'll make a decision about next steps. But the American people can be 
confident that the United States of America is going to defend our interest in 
the region, and we're going to stand with our allies."

   The U.S. response could involve military, political and economic actions, 
and the military options could range from no action at all to airstrikes or 
less visible moves such as cyberattacks. One likely move would be for the U.S. 
to provide additional military support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from 
attacks from the north, since most of its defenses have focused on threats from 
Houthis in Yemen to the south.

   Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized to a 
small number of journalists traveling with him Monday that the question of 
whether the U.S. responds is a "political judgment" and not for the military.

   "It is my job to provide military options to the president should he decide 
to respond with military force," Dunford said.

   Trump will want "a full range of options," he said. "In the Middle East, of 
course, we have military forces there and we do a lot of planning and we have a 
lot of options."

   U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said in an interview Thursday that if 
Trump "chooses an option that involves a significant military strike on Iran 
that, given the current climate between the U.S. and Iran, there is a 
possibility that it could escalate into a medium to large-scale war, I believe 
the president should come to Congress."

   Slotkin, a former top Middle East policy adviser for the Pentagon, said she 
hopes Trump considers a broad range of options, including the most basic 
choice, which would be to place more forces and defensive military equipment in 
and around Saudi Arabia to help increase security.

   A forensic team from U.S. Central Command is pouring over evidence from 
cruise missile and drone debris, but the Pentagon said the assessment is not 
finished. Officials are trying to determine if they can get navigational 
information from the debris that could provide hard evidence that the strikes 
came from Iran.

   Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday that the U.S. has a high 
level of confidence that officials will be able to accurately determine exactly 
who launched the attacks last weekend.

   U.S. officials were unwilling to predict what kind of response Trump will 
choose. In June, after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, Trump 
initially endorsed a retaliatory military strike then abruptly called it off 
because he said it would have killed dozens of Iranians. The decision 
underscores the president's long-held reluctance to embroil the country in 
another war in the Middle East.

   Instead, Trump opted to have U.S. military cyber forces carry out a strike 
against military computer systems used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard to control 
rocket and missile launchers, according to U.S. officials.

   The Pentagon said the U.S. military is working with Saudi Arabia to find 
ways to provide more protection for the northern part of the country.

   Air Force Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told 
Pentagon reporters Wednesday that U.S. Central Command is talking with the 
Saudis about ways to mitigate future attacks. He would not speculate on what 
types of support could be provided.

   Other U.S. officials have said adding Patriot missile batteries and enhanced 
radar systems could be options, but no decisions have been made.


(KR)

 
 
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