Foreign Policy: Pentagon Chief Kept Tight Circle on Suleimani Strike
Sources say senior officials who would normally be consulted were left out of the loop.
In the hours leading up to the U.S. drone strike that killed Qassem Suleimani this past week, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper kept President Donald Trump’s decision to target the commander of Iran’s powerful Quds Force closely held, cutting out some senior Pentagon leaders who are typically consulted on decisions of such magnitude.
Senior officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff would ordinarily be part of the discussion, or at least briefed ahead of time, on such a momentous decision—one that the administrations of both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama considered and rejected. But in this case, many senior leaders found out after the fact, current and former officials familiar with the discussions told Foreign Policy.
“The usual approval process, the decision-making process, did not occur,” said one defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues.
Even among the small group of officials who were in the loop, there was dissent about whether killing Suleimani was a wise decision, said a former senior administration official with knowledge of the discussions. “The DoD was not all in agreement that killing the second most popular person in Iran at an international airport in Iraq was a good idea,” the former official said.
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WNU Editor: They were afraid of leaks. Specifically to the press and/or the Democrats who are still invested in the policy of accommodating Iran.