Friday, September 29, 2023

U.S. moves to put Marines on commercial ships to stop Iranian seizures

The plan, if approved, would represent a remarkable escalation in the long-running feud between Washington and Tehran that could put their militaries in direct confrontation

The U.S. military is readying plans to embark armed Marines and sailors aboard the commercial ships of interested private companies after a spate of vessel seizures by Iranian forces in the Middle East, officials said Thursday, a remarkable escalation that could put Washington and Tehran in direct confrontation.

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The effort has not yet received final approval, but it has buy-in from senior Biden administration officials and could commence as soon as this month, said one official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military planning. Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., have been flown to Bahrain and received related training, with additional personnel due to arrive soon aboard American warships.

“We have a cohort on the ground,” the official said. He added that the “policy decision has pretty much been made.”

A second U.S. official acknowledged the proposal is under discussion at the Pentagon but emphasized that it has not yet been approved.

Asked about the plan, a Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, said Thursday he had no announcements to make.

U.S. Navy says it foiled Iran’s attempt to seize oil tankers

A spokesman at the White House, John Kirby, directed questions to the Defense Department while noting the Strait of Hormuz, where some of the incidents have occurred, is a “vital seaway.” The United States, he said, has seen threats by Iran to close off this “choke point.” The strait connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, and the open ocean beyond. At least 20 percent of the world’s crude oil is moved through the strategic ….