Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, says he supports a limited military strike in retaliation for Iran downing a large, unmanned U.S. drone — but he wants unnecessary Iranian casualties avoided.
“I think we’re going to have to look at some type of military response,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke with the News-Capital on Friday while visiting the remote Hale Scout Reservation in LeFlore County. He was among a handful of Congressional leaders invited to the White House on Thursday evening for a classified national security briefing regarding the situation with Iran.
“I was with the president last night,” Inhofe said, referring to the Thursday evening meeting with President Donald Trump and select members of the U.S. Congressional leadership at the White House.
“He talked about what happened in the Strait of Hormuz and provided us with pictures,” Inhofe said. The U.S. drone was not over Iranian territory when the Iranians shot it down, said Inhofe.
Other Congressional leaders at the meeting included U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Washington.
While Inhofe supports a military strike against Iran, he thinks it’s important to avoid collateral damage, that is, casualties or major damages to people or property not deemed the primary target. Still, he thinks it’s important that the U.S. responds.
“We have to be ready to do it,” Inhofe said.
While the Democratic leadership called for restraint, Inhofe said he and some of the others present at the White House meeting were ready to commence as soon as feasible.
“There were several of us who said if you can avoid collateral damage, we need to send something that explodes,” Inhofe said. Not only would Inhofe want to avoid collateral damage, he also thinks it’s important for what the U.S. is trying to achieve in the region.
“All you have to do is have major collateral damage, and you’re dead in the water,” he said.
Apparently those concerns had an impact on Trump, who tweeted Friday that he was ready to launch a military strike against Iran, but reconsidered and called it off after his military advisers told him up to 150 Iranians could be killed in the strike.
Trump was quoted by NBC news as saying he didn’t think that was “proportionate” to the shooting down of the unmanned U.S drone by the Iranians.
Inhofe said President Trump and the president’s advisers have been criticized over the past two weeks for a military buildup in the region. Trump noted there are plans to send another 1,000 troops to the region in addition to 1,500 who are already in the vicinity, along with the positioning of a U.S. aircraft carrier.
Inhofe said Israeli intelligence had warned the U.S. something was about to occur and the Iranian’s Thursday downing of the U.S. drone shows the Israelis were right.
“Israeli intelligence made it very clear something was going to happen,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe noted that the drone shot down by the Iranians was much bigger that what many people picture when they think of a drone.
“This drone’s the size of a DC-3,” Inhofe said, referring to an aircraft with a 95-foot wingspan.
Inhofe traveled Friday to the Hale Scout Reservation in LeFlore County to visit the Senator James M. Inhofe Education Complex named in his honor by the Indian Nations Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
The senator’s efforts in Washington led to the Hale Scout Reservation’s expansion due to the acquisition of 148 acres of formerly-federal land adjacent to the facility’s grounds, according to several of those attending the event.
Civic Center Area Director Shadoe Harshaw said the scouts he was with felt inspired after Inhofe spoke with them with touring the facility Friday, with the senator telling them how impressed he is with the scouts, who work hard to attain merit badges. Harshaw said future plans for the grounds include two new tech centers, a bath house, eight air conditioned classrooms and an open air pavilion.
“Senator Inhofe worked his tail off and made it possible for us to get this land,” Harshaw said. “He was amazing.”
Inhofe also addressed senior scout leaders on the grounds and referred to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act heading for consideration before the full Senate, with Inhofe predicting the Senate version of the NDAA could pass as soon as next week.
The Senate and House versions of the NDAA will have to be reconciled by a joint conference committee before the final measure can be voted on by the full Congress and then sent to President Trump.
© 2019 The Woodward News (Woodward, Okla.)
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