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Some U.S. Officials Reportedly ‘Frustrated’ at Low-Key Response To Ship Attacks

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued an implied threat to Iran yesterday, in reference to the Dec. 3 ship attacks in the Red Sea. “The weapons here are being supplied by Iran. Iran, we believe, is the ultimate party responsible for this,” he said.

But the war party within the administration is reported to be grumbling that the U.S. response to the ship attacks, and to the attacks on the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria, has so far been insufficient. The Dec. 3 firefight in the Red Sea between the destroyer USS Carney, as it responded to distress calls and drones fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen, has left some U.S. officials frustrated by what they see as the Biden administration’s deliberate downplaying of a major threat to American forces, Politico reported late yesterday. Politico notes that Sullivan, along with other spokespersons in the White House and at the Pentagon, have refused to say that the USS Carney was among the targets. The Carney, Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said yesterday, “for our initial assessment, was not the intended target” of the Houthi drones, though the three commercial vessels clearly were. “The Carney took action as a drone was headed in its direction, but again, we can’t assess that the Carney, at this time, was the intended target,” she added.

Four other officials with knowledge of the discussions told Politico in interviews that U.S. Naval forces are clearly under threat in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. “If our ships see something is coming near them or toward them, they are going to assess it as a threat and shoot it down,” said one DOD official. “You’d be hard-pressed to find another time” that U.S. ships have been this challenged in the region.

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