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Tags: lloyd austin | troops | deaths | america | retaliatory | strike | iran

Austin Vows 'All Necessary Actions' After US Troop Deaths

Monday, 29 January 2024 11:53 AM EST

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed Monday the United States would take "all necessary actions" to defend its troops after a drone attack by Iran-backed militants that killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens more.

The attack Sunday was the first deadly strike against U.S. forces since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October, and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.

"Let me start with my outrage and sorrow (for) the deaths of three brave U.S. troops in Jordan and for the other troops who were wounded," Austin said at the Pentagon.

"The president and I will not tolerate attacks on U.S. forces and we will take all necessary actions to defend the U.S. and our troops," Austin added at the start of meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The United States is trying to determine exactly why the nearly 350 troops at the base in Jordan, known as Tower 22, were unable to stop the drone.

Two officials said a U.S. drone was approaching the base around the same time the attack drone was incoming. One of the officials said the attack drone was also flying low, factors that may have contributed to it being missed by base defenses.

U.S. troops have been attacked over 150 times in Iraq, Syria, Jordan as well as on warships in the Red Sea, where Houthi fighters in Yemen have been firing drones and missiles at them.

The attacks are piling political pressure on President Joe Biden to deal a blow directly against Iran, a move he's been reluctant to do out of fear of igniting a broader war.

Biden's response options could range anywhere from targeting Iranian forces outside to even inside Iran, or opting for a more cautious retaliatory attack solely against the Iran-backed militants responsible, experts say.

"Iran continues to destabilize the region, this includes backing terrorists who attack our ships in the Red Sea," Stoltenberg said.

Austin returned to work at the Pentagon on Monday after nearly a month's absence because of prostate cancer.

"At this important time, I'm glad to be back at the Pentagon," said Austin, speaking at the start of the meeting. "I feel good and recovering well, but still recovering, and I appreciate all the good wishes that I have received thus far."

Austin was last in the Pentagon on Dec. 21. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier in December, and he went to a hospital for a surgical procedure for the cancer Dec. 22. He worked the following week from home.

On Jan. 1, he was taken by ambulance to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after experiencing extreme pain and was admitted to the intensive care unit. He stayed there for two weeks but did not inform the White House or his deputy that he had cancer, had surgery or had been taken back to the hospital and put in intensive care until days later. He told President Joe Biden and other key leaders about his diagnosis only after he had been in the hospital more than a week.

Austin's lack of disclosure has prompted changes in federal guidelines and has triggered an internal Pentagon review and an inspector general review into his department's notification procedures. Both reviews are ongoing.

Austin has been working from home since he got out of the hospital Jan. 15, and he made his first public appearance early last week during a virtual Ukraine contact defense group meeting. He gave opening remarks for the meeting via video camera that was streamed online.

Doctors at Walter Reed said Friday that Austin's prostate cancer prognosis is excellent and no further treatments will be needed. He saw doctors for a checkup Friday.

Austin has been criticized for keeping secret his prostate cancer diagnosis, surgery and subsequent hospitalization with complications from the procedure.

He was diagnosed in early December and had what the Pentagon described as a "minimally invasive surgical procedure," called a prostatectomy, to treat the cancer Dec. 22. He was under general anesthesia during this procedure and had transferred some authorities to his deputy defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks. He was discharged the next day and continued to perform his duties.

The Associated Press material on Austin's absence was added to this Reuters report.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


US
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed Monday the United States would take "all necessary actions" to defend its troops after a drone attack by Iran-backed militants that killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens more.
lloyd austin, troops, deaths, america, retaliatory, strike, iran, proxies, war
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2024-53-29
Monday, 29 January 2024 11:53 AM
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