Iran’s vow to strike the US military in retaliation for the killing of its top general presents the Pentagon with a massive force protection problem that events of the past 48 hours — and past 40 years — illustrate in American blood.
In an exclusive CNN interview on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan — the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — said that Tehran’s response to the drone strike on Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week would be to hit back directly on American “military sites.”
From Singapore to Djibouti and Bahrain to Brazil, today the US operates about 800 military bases and logistical facilities outside its sovereign territory — more than any other nation. Hundreds of other installations, large and small, exist on US territory.
Every US installation — even every soldier, sailor, airman or Marine — could be a target. Presumably that could also include US Navy ships at sea, US Air Force planes at airports or in the world’s skies, or even US troops enjoying themselves off base and off duty.
“There are many ways to hit US personnel, and you can’t protect them all,” said Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.