In a move that could mark an unprecedented step in maritime security, the US military is reportedly considering placing armed personnel on commercial ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The aim is to deter Iran from seizing and civilian vessels, according to The Associated Press, which cited four American officials familiar with the matter.
The ongoing 'tanker wars,' which began in the summer of 2019, have witnessed escalating tensions in the region, with incidents like the "Quiet US Seizure Of Iranian Crude Prompted Iran's Capture Of Houston-Destined Tanker" making headlines. The situation has raised serious concerns over the safety and freedom of navigation in the crucial waterway.
While specific details of the plan have not been disclosed yet, reports suggest that Marines are already undergoing training for this potential program. Placing US military personnel aboard tankers entering 'hot zones' frequented by Iranian naval patrols could serve as a significant deterrent against any hostile actions.
This decision comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's announcement regarding the deployment of additional Marines to the Gulf region. The USS Bataan amphibious readiness group, along with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, comprising about 2,500 Marines, has already been dispatched to bolster maritime capabilities.
The amphibious readiness group, comprising the Bataan warship, USS Mesa Verde, and USS Carter Hall, set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, earlier in July.
The situation has escalated to the point where the Pentagon had previously deployed the USS Thomas Hudner and additional F-35 and F-16 fighter jets to the region, in support of A-10 attack aircraft, in response to alleged threats against tankers.
Interestingly, these measures also coincide with the US decision to send more advanced combat jets to the area in response to perceived aggressive behavior from Russian aircraft over Syrian skies.
The potential placement of armed personnel on commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz represents a complex and sensitive operation. While it allegedly aims to safeguard civilian vessels and maintain the free flow of trade, it also raises questions about the potential for escalation and unintended consequences.