Late Tuesday afternoon, at approximately 4:35 p.m. CST, the Iranian government launched a dozen rockets into Iraq, striking near Al-Asad Airbase and the town of Erbil.
Pentagon officials stated the attack by Iran was in response to the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Solemani.
"Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said via a release just after 7 p.m. EST. "It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Asad and [Erbil]."
Initial battle damage assessments were being conducted and the search for wounded, if any, was under way.
“In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners," Hoffman said. "These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region."
Locally, the soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley are training and conducting business “as usual” said Lt. Col. Terrence Kelley, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs officer.
“The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team is currently loading their equipment via rail for their long-planned rotation to the Republic of Korea,” he said. “We also have the 1st Infantry Division Forward Headquarters in Poznan, Poland, supporting U.S. Army Europe and our NATO allies. The 1st Infantry Division headquarters is also collaborating with the Kansas National Guard on an upcoming exercise in which we'll train with Kansas's 35th Infantry Division.”
Kelley said the deployments of military personnel to the U.S. Army Central Command region are “appropriate and precautionary actions taken in response to increased threat levels in the region.”
“For operational security reasons, we do not discuss specifics on future operations or deployments, including forces flowing into or out of the CENTCOM region,” he said. “We constantly assess security concerns and our force protection measures. However, we will not publicly discuss specifics.”
Wednesday morning President Donald J. Trump made his first public comments to the American people from the Grand Foyer of the White House.
“I'm pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy. No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime,” Trump said. “We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken the dispersal forces and an early warning system that worked very well.”
Trump said the Iranian government has displayed “destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East” dating back to 1979.
“Those days are over,” he said. “Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.”
Trump referenced the killing of Solemani last week calling him “the world’s top terrorist” who was responsible for training terrorist armies, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets and fueling civil wars all across the region.
“He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims,” Trump said. “Solemani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American and he orchestrated the violent assault on the US Embassy in Baghdad.”
In response to the attacks Tuesday, Trump stated, “the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, these powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”
Trump called on the governments of the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China to “recognize this reality” and withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015. The JCPOA, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, where Iran was to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% and reduce by 2/3 the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.
In 2018, President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the deal.
On Jan. 5, 2020 in the aftermath of the attack at the Baghdad International Airport, Iran declared that it would no longer abide by the limitation of the deal.
“In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia and shot down two U.S. drones,” Trump said. “Iran's hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013. And they were given 150 billion dollars, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying ‘Thank you’ to the United States they chanted ‘Death to America.’
“In fact, they chanted Death to America the day the agreement was signed,” he added. “Then Iran went on a terrorist spree funded by the money from the deal — and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration. The regime also greatly tighten the reins on their own country. Even recently killing 1500 people at the many protests that are taking place, all throughout Iran.”
Trump did call all the allied nations to work together to create a new deal that “makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”
“We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential,” he said. “Iran can be a great country, peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred and war. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime, your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward.”
President Trump said the U.S. military, under his administration, has been built up and is “stronger than ever before.”
“The fact that we have this great military and equipment however, it does not mean we have to use it,” he said. “We do not want to use it. American strength both military and economic is the best deterrent.”
Trump closed his comments Wednesday by stating ‘the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”