Today it has been widely reported in the press that U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, stated in connection with Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes in Iraq in the aftermath of the United States killing designated terrorist Qassim Soleimani while he was in Baghdad: “I believe based on what I saw and what I know that they were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel. That’s my own personal assessment.”
Although I do not have access to the same intelligence reports briefed to Chairman Milley, I do have questions regarding his public statement.
Contrary to Chairman Milley’s personal assessment, mine is that the Iranian leaders never intended to kill Americans, but rather simply to appease their crowds while leaving the door open for what we hope will be constructive diplomatic communications.
First, I question how 15 Iranian ballistic or laser guided precision missiles can miss targets only 1,132 km away from Tehran.
Iran has demonstrated rapid and effective targeting packet capabilities in the very recent attacks in the Strait of Hormuz on June 20, 2019, destroying U.S. drones, and in September 2019 with the targeting and successful attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Kingdom. Given the complexity of this fast-moving target, and the precision of the Saudi attack, I question how 15 Iranian ballistic or laser guided precision missiles can miss targets only 1,132 km away from Tehran.
Second, if Iran’s intent was to ensure maximum casualties against the United States and hit key infrastructure as a retaliatory strike for the killing of Qassim Soleimani, then why not strike Balad Air Base (F-16 aircraft base and high saturation of Americans), U.S. Embassy Baghdad (green zone), or Kirkuk, where they have seen success in killing an American in December 2019?
Third, rather than striking the previous Erbil/Irbil airport where we have some military hardware and UH-60/ CH-47 used for transferring U.S. forces in the region, why not hit the USAID compound located only a few kilometers from the airport, U.N. base which shares a secured gate with the new airport, or the U.S. Consulate where we have State Department, U.S. security contractors, and Provincial Regional Team (PRT)?
The reality is that the Iranian regime had to demonstrate a response in an effort to save face and not appear weak before the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen to maintain control.
The Iranians have continued to lose footing after the crippling sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department and put in place by President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Iran had to demonstrate a minimal response that bolsters their image within the region, but without further escalating events and pushing the president to respond with a swift and devastating attack within Iran.
The Iranian regime knows that the United States has the strongest and most advanced military in the world. They realize that President Trump is a man of his word and will carry out his warnings in swift fashion. This is a far difference than that of the previous administration who gave $150 billion and provided $1.7 billion in cash that was flown into Tehran.
Unlike the prior Administration, President Trump will not go around on an appeasement or apology tour for striking terrorists, their proxies, or those who put Americans lives at risk.
Iran has been put on notice by this president, and Iranian leaders have taken considerable action on this last strike to not kill or injure any Americans. This now opens the door to further talks, de-escalating tensions in the Middle East, supporting Iraq in its efforts to rid Iranian corruption, and strengthening U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Cory Mills is a highly decorated combat veteran with experience in multiple theaters of operation. He is Founder and CEO of PACEM Solutions International and PACEM Defense LLC, which acquired AMTEC Less Lethal Systems, Inc., in 2018. For most of his adult life, Cory Mills has honorably served U.S. military, diplomatic, and USAID missions. After Mr. Mills was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, he served as a subcontractor for the U.S. State Department from 2005-2010. During this time, he worked with thousands of diplomatic missions in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and the U.S. Consul in Erbil. In 2016, the Republic of Iraq credited PACEM with assisting operations which led to the raising of Iraq’s flag at the Fallujah Governor’s Office for the first time in nearly three years. Prior to this, ISIS was flying the flag of the Caliph in Fallujah. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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