US President Donald Trump’s pick to succeed Jim Mattis as the Pentagon’s permanent chief insisted Tuesday that passive patrols of the Gulf were deterring Iranian attacks on tankers after an uptick in tensions in the region in recent months.
Army Secretary Mark Esper said at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that the Trump administration continues to pursue a 20-nation maritime coalition in a ramped-up surveillance mission that would aim to "foreclose the opportunity for any miscalculation and misunderstanding” by passive patrolling in the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman “to deter any provocative acts."
The program, he said, would provide “escorts and sentries” to vulnerable vessels, after the Trump administration fingered Iran for an attack on Norwegian and Japanese vessels last month.
Esper said that after an Iranian boat forced a British-owned oil vessel into territorial waters last week, the arrival of a UK warship helped defuse tensions. “That’s the type of concept we’re trying to envision,” he added.
Read the full article and more in Al-Monitor.