DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The U.S. military is considering putting armed personnel on commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, in what would be an unheard of action aimed at stopping Iran from seizing and harassing civilian vessels, five American officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Since 2019, Iran has seized a series of ships in the strait, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, as part of its efforts to pressure the West over negotiations regarding its collapsed nuclear deal with world powers. Putting U.S. troops on commercial ships could further deter Iran from seizing vessels — or escalate tensions further.
The contemplated move also would represent an extraordinary commitment in the Mideast by U.S. forces as the Pentagon tries to focus on Russia and China. America didn’t even take the step during the so-called “Tanker War,” which culminated with the U.S. Navy and Iran fighting a one-day naval battle in 1988 that was the Navy’s largest since World War II.
While officials offered few details of the plan, it comes as thousands of Marines and sailors on both the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and the USS Carter Hall, a landing ship, are on their way to the Persian Gulf. Those Marines and sailors could provide the backbone for any armed guard mission in the strait, through which 20% of the world’s crude oil …