New SecDef wants to escort American ships through Middle East waters
The new Secretary of Defense is more than willing to allow the military to escort American ships through important waterways in the Middle East after Iranian gunboats captured a British vessel.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke of the matter on Wednesday, stating that, “We will escort our ships to the degree that the risk demands it.”
While U.S. Naval vessels are already in the region and prepared to “put in work,” Esper stressed that no actions have been set into motion as of yet.
“I’m not saying that right now,” Esper said. “I’m just saying this is one of the things I’m going to see with CENTCOM next week as I understand their concept of the operations. Again, to the degree of course United States vessels need an escort, we will be there. We will be available to them.”
U.S. Central Command recently announced the development of Operation Sentinel, a multinational operation that will guarantee safe navigation of the Gulf by commercial vessels.
“This maritime security framework will enable nations to provide escort to their flagged vessels while taking advantage of the cooperation of participating nations for coordination and enhanced maritime domain awareness and surveillance,” CENTCOM said on July 19.
According to Task & Purpose, Esper will meet with CENTCOM commanders to find out exactly what will be required to ensure safe passage for vessels- even if they aren’t being shadowed by Naval vessels at all times.
“As long as you’re in the area that you can react quick enough to deter a provocation, that’s the key,” Esper said. “I don’t necessarily mean that every U.S.-flagged ship going through the Strait [of Hormuz] has a destroyer right behind it.”
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