Experts say Biden’s Gaza floating dock plan endangers U.S. troops

The Biden administration’s plan to build a floating dock off the Gaza coast as part of a broader international initiative to feed hungry Palestinians would endanger U.S. service members who must build, operate and defend the structure from attack, military experts say. There is a huge risk that if a disaster occurs, there will be political consequences for the president.

U.S. officials say the effort could deliver up to 2 million meals a day to the war-torn region, amid concerns over ongoing Israeli bombings and what critics say are extreme restrictions on the movement of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. There will be famine there. assistance.

Skeptics worry that Americans’ long engagement with the war and anger over U.S. support for Israel will make humanitarian efforts a target. (Video: Joy Sung, Dan Lamothe/The Washington Post)

While the Pentagon insists the U.S. will not deploy troops to Gaza, it has revealed little about how long the operation will last or how it intends to ensure the safety of those involved, alarming some in Congress and other critics of the president’s plan. Military officials declined to answer questions from The Washington Post about where the pier would be located and what security measures would be in place, citing a reluctance to disclose its plans.

Americans’ distance from the fighting and intense anger at U.S. support for Israel will lead to pier a tempting target Hamas or another militant group in the region – many of which skeptics of the operation warn have received weapons and military guidance from rival Iran. Rockets, attack drones, divers or speedboats hauling explosives would all pose threats, they said.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. Paul Kennedy, who has led major humanitarian efforts after natural disasters in Nepal and the Philippines, called reducing civilian suffering in Gaza a “worthy goal” for the United States. But he questioned whether the U.S. military was the appropriate entity to be involved.

“If a bomb went off in that place,” he said, “the American public would ask, ‘What on earth were they doing there?'”

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the assembly and operation of the terminal will bring relief to thousands of Gazans and is an important mission that can make a difference.

“But we know that missions like this are never without risk,” Kirby said. “This is especially true in a war zone like Gaza. There will be no U.S. troops on the ground, and we know our military leaders will do everything they can to ensure their safety as they build and operate this terminal.”

This report is based on interviews with eight current and former U.S. national security officials who are familiar with ongoing planning for the Gaza operation or understand the complex coordination required to safely execute a humanitarian mission of this scale.

Defenders of the plan say the risks are real but manageable and that the United States is showing leadership by finding new ways to feed Palestinians caught up in the fighting.

However, some mentioned the deadly terrorist bombings Beirut 1983 and while in the U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 as an example of the enormous difficulties faced in protecting U.S. service members during extended stays in fragile conditions.

The former resulted in the deaths of 241 U.S. service members.The latter killed 13 U.S. troops and an estimated 170 Afghans, and remains a low point For the Biden Administration and Focus Ongoing surveillance investigation in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

President Biden On March 7, he announced the deployment of the Gaza terminal during his State of the Union address, saying it would allow for a “significant increase” in humanitarian aid. The United States and other countries have airdropped aid into Gaza over the past few weeks, but those efforts have not met the need.

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The dock idea has been met Mixed reactionsThe International Rescue Committee and other aid groups say the United States must use its influence to pressure Israel to allow more humanitarian supplies to be delivered by land. Israeli officials have refused to open Gaza’s northern crossing, citing security concerns, while in the south, a cumbersome inspection process limits the amount of aid that can enter.

Israel accuses the United Nations agency responsible for distributing much of the aid in the enclave of diverting supplies to Hamas, It said delays were caused by logistical issues among aid groups, including a shortage of drivers.

The Army-led operation Dock will involve about 1,000 U.S. troops and four warships deploying from southeastern Virginia on March 12. After an expected 30-day transit, the ships will be anchored offshore, where soldiers will build floating steel structures and an 1,800-foot-long, two-lane causeway that will stretch from the edge of the Mediterranean Sea to the beachhead.

All delivered goods will be temporarily stored and inspected in Cyprus before being loaded onto a vessel for shipment to the terminal. U.S. personnel will move supplies to the causeway, but they will not leave the causeway, Defense Department officials said.Israeli Defense Minister Yov Galante Already expressed support For the maritime program, the Israeli military will ensure that assistance reaches where it is due.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Biden’s top military adviser, told reporters last week that “whenever we deploy our troops to any place where there is danger, the safety of our troops is the top priority.” He said the United States would take steps to protect soldiers and that Israel and other countries were expected to provide security assistance. He did not elaborate.

Brown said Lt. Gen. Brad Cooper, the No. 2 man at U.S. Central Command, which coordinates all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, has held meetings in the region to set safety conditions and other requirements for the terminal to work as intended. explain.

Brown said his Israeli counterpart, Lieutenant General Hertz Halevi, assured him that there would be no bottlenecks in the flow of aid through the terminal.

Gen. Michael “Eric” Kurilla, the top commander of Central Command, also tried to reassure lawmakers during a congressional hearing in early March. But Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and other Republican senators told a meeting that “strong reservations” remain. Letter to Biden last week.

They wrote to the White House, “We are seriously concerned that the Department of Defense has failed to consider the possibility that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and other U.S.-designated terrorist groups will conduct operations in Gaza. Attacks will be deployed to carry out this American personnel on the mission.”

Officials at Kurila’s headquarters in Tampa declined to answer questions from The Washington Post about what security measures would be in place, and U.S. officials have not publicly disclosed where on Gaza’s coastline the terminal will be installed.

Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, described the risk as “modest” and said he believed the mission was “sensible and achievable.”

If U.S. forces were attacked, it would most likely be from the air, Stavridis said, arguing that a nearby Navy ship equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile defense system should be enough to protect those on or near the floating dock.

U.S. sailors have used the system repeatedly near Yemen to shoot down missiles and attack drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have launched an aggression against commercial and military vessels transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November. sexual assault.It has proven largely successful, although a handful of Houthi attacks have slipped away and some civilian sailors have killed.

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To protect against manned and unmanned surface vessels that could pose a threat, Stavridis said, commanders could deploy SEALs or other armed personnel on small, high-speed boats, with Israeli security forces providing protection on land.

Anthony Schinney, a retired Marine Corps general who led Central Command from 1997 to 2000, said the terminal could be targeted by many adversaries, including Hamas and the Islamic State.he quoted The USS Cole was attacked in 2000 In a port in Yemen, al-Qaida operatives drove a speedboat packed with explosives into a destroyer, killing 17 sailors and injuring dozens more.

Zinni predicted the terminal would have a security ring involving Israeli troops and other forces, but with U.S. troops providing the innermost layer of protection. Aircraft expenses are also valuable, he said.

“Obviously, the IDF is very capable, but I still want my own internal security force,” he said.

Zinni said the mission seemed justified both to alleviate suffering and to send a message that the United States cares about Palestinian civilians.

“It is important for us to show that we have thoroughly addressed the humanitarian issue, otherwise we will be seen as being completely one-sided on this issue,” he said.

Retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who ran Central Command from 2016 to 2019, said the Pentagon “probably” will provide adequate security near Gaza. He said the U.S. military would be “highly alert and aware of the threat” and would likely have adequate intelligence support.

Votel, now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said the more significant challenge may be determining how the aid will be distributed once it arrives. This, he says, is where the “real magic” lies.

“I think it’s a pretty big undertaking,” he said. “But I think the benefits here are pretty significant.”

Others are less optimistic.

Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy officer and senior fellow at the Sagamore Institute, asserted that the causeway would be “very vulnerable” regardless of safety measures. He called the plan “silly.”

“In terms of the potential to mitigate supply shortages and food shortages in the region, I think there’s a lot of downside risk for the relatively small upside,” Hendricks said. He argued that moving more food overland was “the only way to do that.” “. approach brought about significant changes in the situation in Palestine. “

Hendricks also warned that what happens on shore is unpredictable and that people’s desperation could cause chaos, crowd surges and become a new site of friction between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

“At some point in time, these supplies will actually be transferred from IDF-controlled territory or safe zones to Palestinians,” he said. “At that point, the reality is that the United States will not be able to control these supplies at that interface point.”

Retired Marine Corps Gen. Kennedy recalled the aftermath of the 2013 typhoon that struck the Philippines. When U.S. troops deployed to the Philippines to provide aid, he worried that the Abu Sayyaf militant group there would launch an attack on Americans.

He said U.S. troops were not allowed to carry weapons while deployed, so he asked the Philippine government to station snipers nearby and have U.S. Marines alongside them as observers.

“You are entrusted with the lives of your fellow citizens and your fellow citizens, and therefore your first obligation is protection with force,” Kennedy said. “You have to make sure your troops are protected.”

He assessed that every day U.S. forces are involved, they are likely to be attacked.

“There’s a point of diminishing returns, right?” Kennedy said. “They need to build that thing as quickly as possible, turn it over to any competent civilian authority – and get out of there.”

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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