The reporting so far does not answer many arising questions.
Some surprising details and admissions have emerged out of the Pentagon on Monday connected to the drone attack on Jordanian base Tower 22, related to the question of how the base’s anti-air defenses could have failed so badly. First, in our prior reporting (below), we linked to Moon of Alabama which asked some key questions not being addressed amid the frenzy of international reporting and growing speculation [emphasis ZH]:
The reporting so far does not answer many arising questions. Tower 22 is on the Jordanian side of the boarder but Jordan insists that no attack had happened on its grounds.
Another anomaly are the high rate of wounded from the alleged drone strike. Drones are used in mass in the Ukraine war but the casualties they cause are usually less than a handful per drone.
The highly automated short and medium range air-defenses (C-RAMs, the equivalent of naval Phalanx guns) at the base should be able to shoot down any drone. Why didn’t they work?
Later in the day Monday, some of these questions are being answered. The Wall Street Journal cited US officials who spoke to the failure of the base’s anti-air defenses:
The U.S. failed to stop a deadly attack on an American military outpost in Jordan because the enemy drone approached its target at the same time a U.S. drone was also returning to base, U.S. officials said Monday.
The return of the U.S. drone led to some confusion over whether the incoming drone was friend or foe, officials have concluded so far.
The enemy drone was launched from Iraq by a militia backed by Tehran, U.S. officials said. The outpost, Tower 22, sits in Jordan, hard on the borders of Iraq and Syria.
In total three US service members died and at least 34 were injured, with eight of these having been medically evacuated to a hospital in Germany.
At a moment some US Congressional hawks are clamoring to start a war with Iran, WSJ writes further, “The U.S. has yet to find evidence thus far that Iran directed the attack, a U.S. defense official said Monday.”
Below is an example of a C-RAM in action… this is what ideally should have happened as the inbound enemy drone got closer to the Tower 22 base:
Even as Iran has denied involvement, an Iranian-linked group called “Islamic Resistance of Iraq” has taken responsibility for the Jordanian base attack. The core of the ‘resistance’ coalition in Iraq continues to be Kateeb Hizballah however, as Washington Post explains further of the details:
“Tower 22”, the U.S. base in NE Jordan where three American troops were just killed, overlooks a Syrian refugee camp called Rukban, where 15,000 people have been living for years. It is also near the Al-Tanf Garrison, where a couple hundred U.S. troops are based.
This is a crucial node between Iraq and Syria that Iranian militias have long sought to control. There have been several drone attacks on Tanf since Oct. 7. This is a brazen escalation.
The group that will claim responsibility calls themselves the “Islamic Resistance of Iraq,” but that’s really a post Oct 7 umbrella group of IRGC sponsored militias. The actual attackers were likely Kateeb Hizballah with support of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujab and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.
The Washington Post analysis goes on to claim that Islamic Resistance of Iraq has direct IRGC backing and was formed in order to “target Americans” – also at a moment the Iraqi government has made clear that it wants US troops out of the country.
On Same Day Enemies Struck and Killed US Service Members, Biden Struggled to Remember the Current President of America
This is why competence matters, America.
Iranian-backed militias targeted U.S. forces in Jordan on Sunday, killing three American troops and wounding at least 34 others, according to CNN. The number of wounded is expected to rise.
U.S. Central Command announced the deaths in a terse statement, using the Pentagon acronym of UAS for “unmanned aircraft system” — a drone.
“On Jan. 28, three U.S. service members were killed and 25 injured from a one-way attack UAS that impacted at a base in northeast Jordan, near the Syria border,” the statement said.
“As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with DoD policy, the identities of the servicemembers will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.
“Updates will be provided as they become available.
On Sunday, campaigning in South Carolina, the president of the United States had tough talk for the militants who attacked the base, which marked the first time American servicemembers have been killed by a drone attack in Middle East after months of attempts by groups linked to Tehran.
“We had a tough day last night in the Middle East. We lost three brave souls in an attack on one of our bases,” Biden said, according to Politico.
“And we shall respond,” the president added.
That was on Sunday.
On Saturday night, the U.S. president apparently couldn’t remember who the U.S. president was.
The latest gaffe — gaffes that are no longer just waved away with the swish of a hand and talk of a childhood stutter, even in a simpatico establishment media — came as the president was trying to ensure an overwhelming victory in South Carolina’s primary this coming Saturday. (Other candidates on the Democratic primary ballot are Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson.)
In a speech in Columbia, Biden said former President Donald Trump wanted economic collapse so that he could win. Or rather, Biden was supposed to say that.
“Did you see what he recently said about that wants to — that he wants to see the economy crash this year? A sitting president,” Biden said.
“As they say in my faith, ‘Bless me, Father, for…’ — I mean, come on, man.”
Yeah, come on, man. Corn Pop was a bad dude. I knew this Amtrak constructor — I mean, conductor — he comes up to me, he says, “Joey, baby…”
At this point, you’re half-surprised that the president’s handlers didn’t just tackle the guy and get him offstage ASAP. But the muscle team apparently wasn’t ready, so they sent in the second line of defense at the Biden White House: The stenographers.
That means he was confusing another man for being the “sitting” president of the United States either shortly before, during or immediately after a deadly attack on the U.S. military he’s supposed to be commanding.
It was the same day, in any case. And it was not the kind of day Americans want their president to be confused.
This isn’t the only time the transcript-wranglers have had to decipher a gaffe so preposterous that my thesaurus is running out of synonyms for “senile” and “geriatric.” (As much as I like the word, one can only use “senescent” so many times before the reader starts to catch on.)
Take whatever this was, delivered the day before at the Earth Rider Brewery in Superior, Wisconsin:
This is how the transcript people tried to make that work: “And, by the way, it used to make the beer brewed here — (laughs) — it is used to make the brewed beer here in this refine- — oh, Earth Rider, thanks for the Great Lakes. I wondered why (inaudible) — (laughter).”
Now, these moments, in the moment, are funny. Uncle Joe is senile, senescent, doddery, forgetful, outré, amnesic — OK, my thesaurus just slapped me across the face, so I’m assuming it’s telling me you get the point. Ha ha. Hee-larious. Biden’s gonna Biden!
However, the presidency isn’t a sitcom.
What did Biden say on Sunday about the attack that killed three service members? “We shall respond.”
But respond to whom? Here he got a bit doddery, as well, although it’s unclear whether he was being deliberately vague or simply didn’t know: “We know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
There are no shortage of groups in the Middle East seeking to target us, may I add. Houthi rebel groups, which are mostly based in Yemen, have practically shut down shipping in the Suez Canal.
Hezbollah and its offshoots might be a more likely culprit. There’s certainly no shortage of U.S. adversaries that think, and perhaps not wrongly, that the time to take their shot at America is while it’s led by a man who can’t even remember that he’s president and when the secretary of defense goes AWOL for a week for a medical emergency without informing anyone, including the president.
“[H]ave no doubt – we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing,” Biden promised those in South Carolina.
Will we really, Mr. President? Or will that be another quote that the transcript doctors will have to cross out later on?
This is why competence matters. And this is a day Americans need to remember.