War in Gulf Developing: US Marine Expeditionary Force Deploys off Coast of Iran

June 26, 2019

2 min read

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer carried the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and a combat helicopter squadron arrived in the region of the Strait of Hormuz. Also deployed were the amphibious transport dock, USS John P. Murtha, and the amphibious dock landing ship, USS Harpers Ferry. The U.S. 5th Fleet is currently tasked with ensuring the security of the Strait which is a vital oil-shipping route as well as U.S. interests in much of the Middle East. 

It appears the recent arrivals are replacing other naval assets led by the USS Kearsarge which have been in the region since April and are being rotated out of the region. 

“Our training and preparation to enter the 5th Fleet area of operations has all been designed to ensure we can be ready where it matters, when it matters,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, the group’s Marine unit commander to Stars and Stripes.

The political situation was exacerbated two weeks ago when two Saudi oil tankers were attacked with limpet mines. The U.S. blamed Iran for the attack. An identical attack was carried out last week.

The U.S. was almost dragged into a shooting war after Iran shot down a $130 million Global Hawk surveillance drone on Thursday morning with a surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday evening, the president ordered strikes on Iranian military targets including radar and missile batteries. The NYT cited “officials” as saying that as late as 7:00 PM, “planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down.” Had they not been canceled, the U.S strikes would have taken place before dawn on Friday morning.

Rather than back down, the Iranian military leadership doubled down, threatening to shoot down more U.S. military assets. Iranian news reported on Monday that Commander of the Islamic Republic Army’s Navy Hossein Khanzadi told the Fars News Agency as saying, “The enemy dispatched one of the most advanced, intelligent and complex drones to the forbidden area and everyone witnessed its shoot-down,”  Commander of the Islamic Republic Army’s Navy Hossein Khanzadi told the Fars News Agency on Monday. “We dare to say this crushing blow can be alternatively repeated and the enemy knows it.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Saudi Arabia to conduct talks with Saudi Arabian government about a global coalition. AP reported that Pompeo was scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates.

“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran to reporters in Washington prior to his departure, according to AP.

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