American troops were informed of an imminent attack hours before a barrage of Iranian ballistic missiles struck a key Iraqi airbase hosting their forces, U.S. military officials said on Monday.
At 11:00 p.m. on Jan. 6, U.S. Lt. Col. Antoinette Chase gave the order for American troops at Ain al-Asad Airbase, in western Iraq, to go on lockdown.
Military movements froze as her team, responsible for emergency response at the base, sent out alerts keeping them up to date about the incoming threat.
At 11:30 she gave the order to take cover in bunkers.
The first strike landed sometime after 1:35 in the morning, and the barrage continued for nearly 2 hours.
"The reason why we pushed it at 23:30 is that at that point in time all indications pointed to something coming," she told reporters at the base.
"Worst case scenario we were told was it's probably going to be a missile attack. So we were informed of that."
The Iranian attack was in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport that killed a top Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, prompting angry calls to avenge his slaying.