Almost 16 months ago, then-U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis initiated a course correction for the Pentagon. After 17 years of war in the Middle East, great power competition with Russia and China, not terrorism, would be the priority.
But this week, the White House ordered an aircraft carrier strike group operating in the Mediterranean Sea and bomber task force to move to the U.S. Central Command region, in a striking show of force designed to counter what acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called “a credible threat” from Iran to attack U.S. forces. Days later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned trip to Germany to make an unscheduled stop in Iraq to discuss the tensions with Tehran. Now, the United States is reportedly considering sending additional bomber aircraft and moving some Patriot missile batteries back to the region.