A classified exercise simulating war to assess the potential ramifications of an Israeli attack on Iran determined that such a strike would lead to a regional war that would suck in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to U.S. officials quoted in The New York Times
The two-week exercise, labeled Internal Look, was not crafted as a rehearsal for American military action, the Times quoted officials as saying. The officials also stressed that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict, the Times reported.
“But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policy makers over the consequences of any Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States,” according to the Times.
The exercise’s results “were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and Southwest Asia,” officials told the Times on condition of anonymity.
“General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there,” according to the Times, which reported that the war game “played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
“The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years,” according to the Times report.
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