USA, the Pentagon’s dilemma: how to respond to the attacks?

In the last month, dozens of attacks against US bases in the Middle East

The wave of attacks against US forces deployed abroad has created divisions within the Defense Department in Washingtonwhere there are those who express discontent with what is considered an inconsistent strategy to combat the groups supported by Iran, held responsible, and do not fail to underline how the limited retaliatory air strikes approved by President Joe Biden have failed to stop the violence.

“There’s no clear definition of what we’re trying to deter,” one defense official was quoted by the Washington Post as saying: “Are we trying to deter future Iranian attacks? Well, that’s clearly not working.” Growing anger in the Middle East over US support for Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has heightened concerns among Biden and his deputies about any overreaction to attacks on US personnel, which would risk encouraging the conflict to widen. .

In conjunction with the air strikes, Administration officials have repeatedly urged Tehran over the past month to rein in militia groups which he supports, warning that the United States has “the right” to respond “at a time of our choosing.” But those warnings went unheeded.

Since October 17, US troops in Iraq and Syria have faced almost daily rocket and drone attacks, totaling at least 61 accidents and as many injuries. Pentagon data obtained by The Washington Post shows that the attacks targeted 10 bases used by American personnel in both countries.

In response, Biden authorized three series of airstrikes, all in eastern Syria. The most recent, on November 12, targeted sites identified by the Pentagon as being used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and “Iran-affiliated groups.” A US official said at least seven militants had been killed, an estimate considered “rough”. The Pentagon – a senior defense official has meanwhile revealed – has provided the president with further options in addition to the actions taken to date. And according to the same source within the Department of Defense there are growing doubts about the current approach.

In a statement, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson meanwhile said that Biden has demonstrated “that he will never hesitate to act to protect American forces” and that the president is “fully prepared to take additional measures at any time to protect our people.”

“I don’t see any deterrence,” however, Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview. “They keep shooting, waiting for us to respond. We don’t, so they keep shooting. And eventually one of those drones, or one of those missiles or rockets, is going to kill an American.” “I’m not suggesting we start a real war with Tehran,” he added. “But I think our posture needs to be rather more aggressive and not strictly defensive.”

The senior US defense official who spoke to the Washington Post acknowledged that the Pentagon sees few good alternatives to the measures taken so far, which, in addition to limited retaliatory air strikes, include the deployment of two aircraft carriers near Israel and Iran. Carrying out attacks in Iraq, for example, could potentially exacerbate anti-American sentiment in the country, where US troops are deployed at the invitation of the government in Baghdad. Direct attacks on Iran would amount to a massive escalation. But new options are continuing to be studied at the Pentagon, the sources cited by the American newspaper announced.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, however, disputed suggestions that these sustained attacks against American forces revealed shortcomings in the administration’s deterrence strategy. The fact that the war in Gaza has not expanded, she said, is proof that the approach is working.