BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 A.M.) – The Pentagon has ordered the U.S. military to remain on high alert for a major escalation in Iraq, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Friday.
According to the NYT article, the Pentagon ordered U.S. military commanders to plan for an escalation and prepare for campaign to destroy the “Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops.”
However, while some Pentagon officials are bracing for a confrontation, others are not so sure that the U.S. should commit to such a campaign at this time.
“But the United States’ top commander in Iraq has warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive and risks war with Iran,” the NYT reported. ” In a blunt memo last week, the commander, Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, wrote that a new military campaign would also require thousands more American troops be sent to Iraq and divert resources from what has been the primary American military mission there: training Iraqi troops to combat the Islamic State.”
The primary culprits behind this potential military escalation are top officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser.
Both O’Brien and Pompeo have sought to intensify the U.S.’ campaign against the Iranian government, despite the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands of people worldwide, including nearly 3,000 people in Iran.
While U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been wary of such a campaign, it appears he has approved this new campaign in Iraq.
“Still, American officials said Mr. Esper authorized planning for a new campaign inside Iraq — even as the military reduces its counterterrorism presence there — to provide options for Mr. Trump in the event that Iranian-backed militia groups escalate their own attacks against American troops,” two U.S. officials told the NYT.
It is not clear what this new campaign will entail; however, under the Trump administration, the U.S. has been far more aggressive in their approach to Iran.