- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters he believes Iran was not only seeking to destroy assets and equipment with its missile strike but also trying to “kill personnel,” he told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
- His view of the situation is in contrast with speculation, even among other US officials, that Iran may have tried to avoid causing casualties in order to retaliate for the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani without escalating.
- Rather than respond to Iran’s attack with military force, President Donald Trump, who said earlier in the day in an address to nation that Iran appeared to be “standing down,” opted for tougher sanctions.
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The top US general said Wednesday afternoon that his personal assessment is that the Iranian military wanted to “kill personnel,” as well as destroy assets and equipment, when it fired a barrage of missiles at US and coalition forces in Iraq.
The Iranian missile strikes on forces at al-Asad and Irbil, a response to the US drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week, did not result in casualties, and many observers, including Trump administration officials, suspect this was intentional to retaliate without escalation.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has a different view of the situation.
“I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, that [the strikes] were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel. That’s my own personal assessment,” he told reporters Wednesday afternoon, according to Reuters.
“But the analytics is in the hands of professional intelligence analysts,” he added. “So they’re looking at that.”
Iran fired 16 missiles into Iraq, according to the Pentagon: 11 targeted the air base at al-Asad, one was aimed at Irbil, and four failed.
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said US forces made it through the attack unscathed “because of precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well.”
Asked if the US would have seen casualties if it had not had advanced warning, giving troops time to take cover in bunkers and other hardened facilities, Milley said, “I think that’s a reasonable conclusion.”
In his earlier address, Trump said Iran “appears to be standing down.” Rather than an opting to respond with military force, the president decided to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, thus de-escalating even as US-Iran tensions persist.
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