US fighter jets to patrol Iran-Iraq border, report says
Pentagon official tells LA Times aggressive new tactics designed to deter Iranian assistance to Iraqi militants may include more forceful patrols by fighter planes along Iran-Iraq border to counter smuggling of bomb supplies from Islamic Republic; ‘For every improvised explosive device that goes off in Iraq, a bomb should go off in Iran,’ retired Air Force lieutenant general says
According to the LA Times report, a said the efforts could include more forceful patrols by Air Force and Navy fighter planes along the Iran-Iraq border to counter the smuggling of bomb supplies from Iran.
Such missions also could position the Air Force to strike suspected bomb suppliers inside Iraq to deter Iranian agents that US officials say are assisting Iraqi militias, outside military experts were quoted by the LA Times said.
President George W. Bush warned two weeks ago that US forces would take a harder line against Iranians in Iraq, vowing to "seek out and destroy" weapons supply networks that endanger US troops, the report said.
"Air power plays major roles, and one of those is as a deterrent, whether it be in border control, air sovereignty or something more kinetic," the senior Pentagon official told the LA Times.
'Targets in Iran susceptible to Air Force weapons'
The LA Times said some Pentagon officials worry that an escalation of military pressure that included strikes on Iranian territory could prompt Iran to go after targets it could easily hit, such as oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.
"We need to be very careful about getting into one-to-one trades," a senior Pentagon official was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "That can very quickly get out of control."
Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who advocates military strikes in Iran, told the LA Times that US planes along the border could be better used to keep bomb-making materials out of Iraq.
"We know they are doing this. Why do we accept it?" McInerney was quoted by the Times as saying. "For every (improvised explosive device) that goes off in Iraq, a bomb should go off in Iran."
Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the newspaper that many military targets in Iran were susceptible to Air Force weapons.
"Iran is precisely the type of enemy they know how to deal with," Thompson told the LA Times.
"Having the ability to attack Iranian military targets and political targets is not just a deterrent. It may actually be used if we feel the Iranians are trying to subvert democracy in Iraq."