It might sound counterintuitive, but a larger military presence in a given region can actually lower the chances of a violent outbreak. It’s the concept of ‘Peace through Strength’ that’s right out of Ronald Reagan’s Cold War rhetoric and/or the movie ‘Starship Troopers’. Yet, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, who first requested the American military buildup in and around the Persian Gulf last month, has credited this strategy for warding off the unspecified “specific” Iranian threats.
The rapid US buildup, Gen. McKenzie said, has, for now at least, stabilized the threat from Iran – though the dangers posed by Tehran remain real and an attack could be imminent. The buildup has been so successful, in fact, that we might need to increase our deployment. After decades of an expanding American military presence in the region, the Trump Administration last year started trying to slowing wind down its presence: Several Patriot missile batteries were removed from Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain last year, and aircraft carriers, once a constant presence, were moved to an “as needed” basis.
And look what happened?
“We think this is having a very good stabilizing effect,” Gen. McKenzie said regarding the deployments.
But Gen. McKenzie is considering expanding military capabilities to ensure the U.S. has a long-term, credible deterrence force in the region. Such a move would amount to a significant reversal in the U.S. global military posture, which has shifted away from the Middle East under the Trump administration’s national security strategy, which emphasizes risks from competition with Russia and China.
Gen. McKenzie and others, while backing the national defense strategy issued as part of the national security strategy, said the threat posed by Iran may merit adjustments.
“We’re in the process of negotiating that,” Gen. McKenzie said, acknowledging the potential costs of a shift. “I think very carefully and long and hard before I talk about bringing additional resources into the theater. We are talking about it, but it’s going to be based on a running estimate of the situation as we go forward.”
Even the few brushes with the Iranian IRGC have been ‘professional and uneventful’.
Despite the heightened Iranian military activity, the country’s regular military forces and the IRGC have continued to operate professionally and the interactions at sea have been uneventful, said Adm. John Wade, commander of the Lincoln strike group.
“Since we’ve been operating in the region, we’ve had several interactions with Iranians,” he said. “To this point, all have been safe and professional – meaning, the Iranians have done nothing to impede our maneuverability or acted in a way which required us to take defensive measures.”
The USS Abraham Lincoln is supposed to end up in San Diego at the close of a round-the-world deployment. But who knows? If these unspecified threats aren’t resolved, the deployment in the Middle East could be permanent.