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Iran Build-Up?

3:17 PM, Jan 16, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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J.E. Dyer writes about our "build-up" and military posture in the Gulf

Is the Obama administration building up for a major war against Iran?  No. The administration appears to be doing what it thinks will avert one.  Military force is playing a quiet and relatively minor role.  There has been more “messaging” about force in the last few weeks than actual force activity.  The administration is also trying to discourage Israel from mounting an independent strike on Iran, by frequently advertising US concerns about that possibility.  Presumably the White House knows that this particular messaging campaign serves to keep Iran alerted.  Ultimately, there is more talk than anything else.  Military preparations, such as they are, are defensive in nature.  That includes the acceleration of missile-defense sales to the Persian Gulf nations.

Consider last week’s disclosures about the number of US troops in Kuwait and the announcement that a “second” carrier strike group had arrived in the Central Command (CENTCOM) theater.  News outlets across the nation reported these bits of information as evidence that the US is “boosting” our military presence in the Persian Gulf.  The direct implication is that we are doing this not only because of the Iranian threat but because of a concern in the White House that Israel will conduct a strike on her own (which would produce a backlash from Iran). But we are not “boosting” our troop presence in the Gulf.  We decided last year to keep some of the troops coming out of Iraq in Kuwait, as a ready force to deal with contingencies.  As far as I can tell, the US administration has not explicitly implied in the last few days that the troops were “dispatched” to Kuwait, as if they had just recently deployed from North America.  But numerous news outlets are reporting the developments in exactly those terms.

The force of about 15,000 includes two Army brigade combat teams (BCTs) and a combat air (helicopter) brigade, all of which deployed in 2011 prior to the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq.  We haven’t “boosted” our ground-force presence in the Persian Gulf; we have drawn it down a little less than originally advertised.  The forces in Kuwait are insufficient to mount an attack with; they might be used instead to help defend Gulf nations if Iran retaliated against sanctions or other Western actions with regional attacks.  (The original premise was being able to go back into Iraq for security operations.)

Whole thing here

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