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Fred Fleitz: Iran’s seizure of two oil tankers was a stupid move – It could boost European support for Trump

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061785538001_6061789128001-vs Fred Fleitz: Iran’s seizure of two oil tankers was a stupid move – It could boost European support for Trump Fred Fleitz fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 4b025d3d-7d0a-52da-943e-3ec5a1627627

It has been clear over the past few weeks that Europe’s long-running patience with Iran’s bad behavior is running out. The Islamic Republic’s seizure of two British-operated oil tankers Friday in the Strait of Hormuz was a stupid move that could end that European patience once and for all.

That’s bad news for Iran, but good news for President Trump and his tough Iran policy, and for the U.S.

European leaders have strongly opposed Trump’s Iran policy and his decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD SEIZES TWO UK-OPERATED TANKERS IN STRAIT OF HORMUZ

The deal, which was supposed to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, was fatally flawed and would have only delayed Iran’s entry into the nuclear club for a few years. And it did nothing to stop Iran’s support for terrorism and other hostile activity in the Middle East.

Recent Iranian provocations – including mine attacks on ships in the Persian Gulf, shooting down a U.S drone, and an earlier attempt to seize a British ship this month – have been making it harder and harder for Europe to continue to stand with Iran.

European leaders have also been scrambling over the last two weeks to save the Iran nuclear deal, following Tehran’s recent announcements that it has begun violating the deal’s limits on uranium enrichment.

Iran has said the violations are designed to force European states to stop complying with crippling U.S economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic or get them to compensate Iran for the sanctions.

So with tensions between Iran and Europe at such a high level that European officials were already preparing to throw in the towel, Iran drove tensions up even further by seizing the two British-operated oil tankers Friday.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.”

Iran’s new provocation also will drive European and other states closer to President Trump’s Iran policy. Hold-outs to U.S. Iran sanctions could soon drop their opposition. There also could be new European sanctions.

President Trump responded calmly, noting the new Iranian provocation confirmed his warnings about Iran. Trump said: “This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble. It goes to show you I was right about Iran.”

Obviously, the seizure of the British-operated tankers raises tensions in the Persian Gulf region. But it also will do enormous damage to Iran’s interests by driving European leaders toward President Trump.

A major reason  Trump hates the 2015 nuclear deal is that despite the huge concessions the Obama administration offered Iran in the agreement – including over $150 billion in sanctions relief – Iran’s behavior significantly worsened after the deal was announced.

Iran’s harmful actions included sending troops to Syria to fight in support of dictator Bashar Assad in a civil war, stepping up support for terrorism, and increasing military spending. Iran also ramped up its ballistic missile program and has been credibly accused of violating the nuclear deal.

Ignoring intense pressure from the U.S. foreign policy establishment and European leaders, President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and imposed tough sanctions that are denying Tehran revenue it was spending on its military, missile program, nuclear program and terrorism.

Trump is open to U.S.-Iran talks, but only for a better, comprehensive agreement that deals with the full range of threats posed by Iran. The president also rejected Iran’s demand that he drop U.S. sanctions as a condition of starting talks.

With Iran unlikely to agree to talks with the United States, U.S. officials have been struggling to assemble a “coalition of navies” to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Although European states have been reluctant to contribute to this initiative for fear of being drawn into a military confrontation with Iran, the seizure of the British-operated oil tankers may help U.S. officials win European participation.

Iran’s new provocation also will drive European and other states closer to President Trump’s Iran policy. Hold-outs to U.S. Iran sanctions could soon drop their opposition. There also could be new European sanctions.

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Most importantly, President Trump’s restraint in avoiding using military force against Iran – coupled with dangerous Iranian provocations like the seizure of the two oil tankers Friday – may mean that if President Trump decides to attack Iran in the future, he may do so with Europe’s support.

This would be an amazing reversal of fortune for Trump’s Iran policy – a policy that was universally condemned by the foreign policy establishment and Europe just a year ago. Such a reversal is happening because Iran’s responses to President Trump’s policy have been not only stupid, but abysmal failures.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY FRED FLEITZ

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061785538001_6061789128001-vs Fred Fleitz: Iran’s seizure of two oil tankers was a stupid move – It could boost European support for Trump Fred Fleitz fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 4b025d3d-7d0a-52da-943e-3ec5a1627627   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061785538001_6061789128001-vs Fred Fleitz: Iran’s seizure of two oil tankers was a stupid move – It could boost European support for Trump Fred Fleitz fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 4b025d3d-7d0a-52da-943e-3ec5a1627627

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Jim Hanson: US downing of Iranian drone is a warning to stop aggression and support for terrorism

Westlake Legal Group iran-missle-Getty Jim Hanson: US downing of Iranian drone is a warning to stop aggression and support for terrorism Jim Hanson fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/tech/topics/us-navy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc ba1dfe99-874c-5b47-933e-5f954c73acd9 article

When a U.S. Navy ship downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz Thursday it sent an important message to the mullahs who rule the Islamic Republic: aggression has consequences and America will strike back when provoked.

During the Obama administration, Iran’s leaders figured out that President Barack Obama was desperate to secure his place in history by reaching a deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

So Iran took advantage of Obama’s desperation. The Iranians engaged in terrorism, supported anti-American and anti-Israel fighters, helped Syrian dictator Bashar Assad wage a civil war, and won Obama’s approval of a badly flawed nuclear deal that simply delayed Iran’s entry into the nuclear club for a few years.

TRUMP: US WARSHIP DESTROYED IRANIAN DRONE IN STRAIT OF HORMUZ

Much to the disappointment of the mullahs, President Trump has made clear he is no pushover. Recognizing that the Iran nuclear deal was a bad bargain he withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and placed crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

Iran is now taking aggressive actions in the Persian Gulf and threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off oil shipments, to get sanctions relief. But unlike Obama, Trump is playing hardball and not giving in to Iranian threats.

In announcing the downing of the Iranian drone Thursday in a defensive action by a Navy warship appropriately named the USS Boxer, President Trump said: “The U.S. reserves the right to defend personnel, facilities, interests.” The president said the drone came within 1,000 yards of the U.S. ship and ignored several calls to stand down.

Trump called the flight of the drone within the USS Boxer’s defensive perimeter a “hostile” action by Iran.

U.S. officials told Fox News that Marines aboard the Navy ship downed the drone with electronic jamming equipment.

The Iranians have been pushing to find how out far they could go before drawing a U.S. response. Now they know.

There have been several months’ worth of provocations by Iran in the shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf and by its proxies in the region. I have previously said that a U.S. response was necessary to let the mullahs know that free transit of all vessels in this waterway is a vital U.S. interest.

President Trump couldn’t let Iran’s latest aggressive action pass without a response if he expects Iran and other nations to respect the U.S. and not conclude they can attack our forces at will, without fear of retaliation

President Trump couldn’t let Iran’s latest aggressive action pass without a response if he expects Iran and other nations to respect the U.S. and not conclude they can attack our forces at will, without fear of retaliation.

The U.S. action knocking the Iranian drone out of commission appears to have most likely fallen within the normal rights of an American ship to protect itself. This was an act of self-defense.

Depending on the amount of time the drone spent probing the defenses of the U.S. ship, the U.S. commander may have had time to send word up the chain of command. But all our warships have rules of engagement allowing them to take action against imminent threats.

This becomes more interesting, however, in light of reports that Iran seized a United Arab Emirates oil tanker and is claiming this was an anti-smuggling operation.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran announced Thursday that it had detained a foreign oil tanker it said had been smuggling fuel – days after a UAE vessel with the same name disappeared in the Persian Gulf.

It is unwise to take any statement coming from Iran at face value. In this case, the Revolutionary Guards run a lot of oil smuggling operations themselves, trying to evade sanctions to generate hard currency. It’s possible the UAE ship was a competitor that Iran decided to take out.

But it’s also entirely possible that the seizure of the UAE tanker and the probing of a U.S. Navy ship by the Iranian drone were provocations designed to show Iran can disrupt maritime traffic and energy supplies. That could prompt an increase in oil prices, which would benefit Iran.

There have been hints from the Iranian regime that it is considering negotiations with the U, S. Iran has a long habit of being especially badly behaved prior to any potential talks. This tactic worked well with the Obama administration to help get concessions.

While he would certainly like to make a better nuclear deal with Iran, President Trump does not want to be disrespected or intimidated in the process. But the mullahs don’t seem to have changed their strategy to fit the new sheriff in town.

The Iran nuclear deal approved by Obama did little to stop Iran from its goal of becoming a nuclear power because it had a fatal flaw. Sunset clauses in the agreement would have given Iran free rein to run a fully legitimate nuclear program in as little as a decade. The idea that the Iranians have any intention of making a deal that actually shuts off that path is pretty farfetched.

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Still, President Trump is right to explore a new Iran deal – though with a very skeptical eye. But clearly – unlike Obama – Trump’s patience for Iran’s terrorist attacks across the Middle East has run out.

If the Iranians leaders are smart, they’ll realize Donald Trump is no Barack Obama and agree to real changes in their aggressive behavior in the region and a meaningful nuclear deal. Or the Iranians can raise the stakes and see if Trump folds. Obama always did, but Trump is a much better card player and knows he holds a better hand.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY JIM HANSON

Westlake Legal Group iran-missle-Getty Jim Hanson: US downing of Iranian drone is a warning to stop aggression and support for terrorism Jim Hanson fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/tech/topics/us-navy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc ba1dfe99-874c-5b47-933e-5f954c73acd9 article   Westlake Legal Group iran-missle-Getty Jim Hanson: US downing of Iranian drone is a warning to stop aggression and support for terrorism Jim Hanson fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/tech/topics/us-navy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc ba1dfe99-874c-5b47-933e-5f954c73acd9 article

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Trump: US warship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061110425001_6061106756001-vs Trump: US warship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz Frank Miles fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc article 94f4f23a-baff-5946-83ac-8ca8292f1f5e

A U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between the two countries, President Trump announced Thursday.

“The U.S. reserves the right to defend personnel, facilities, interests,” he said.

Trump said the USS Boxer took defensive action after the drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down. The president called it the latest “hostile” action by Iran.

He also called on other countries to condemn what he described as Iran’s attempts to disrupt the freedom of navigation and global commerce in the strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf region.

Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman confirmed to Fox News in a statement: “At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz. A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”

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The president said the drone threatened the safety of the American ship and its crew.

Iran recently shot down a U.S. drone that it said was flying over Iran. Trump called off a planned retaliatory airstrike at the last minute.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061110425001_6061106756001-vs Trump: US warship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz Frank Miles fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc article 94f4f23a-baff-5946-83ac-8ca8292f1f5e   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061110425001_6061106756001-vs Trump: US warship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz Frank Miles fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc article 94f4f23a-baff-5946-83ac-8ca8292f1f5e

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Pentagon calls missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing,’ report says

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6054761934001_6054757798001-vs Pentagon calls missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing,’ report says fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc eeba8040-bdc7-590c-96cb-2bd6a83086fb article

The Pentagon on Tuesday said China’s decision to test-fire missiles in the South China Sea was “disturbing” and a U.S. official told Reuters that multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles employed in the test.

The U.S. has in the past denounced Beijing on what it sees as an effort to militarize man-made outposts in the region.

“I’m not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I’m sure they agree that the PRC’s behavior is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other (South China Sea) claimants,” Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson told Reuters.

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China considers control of the South China Sea as crucial to its foreign trade routes and aspirations to surpass the U.S. as the dominant military power in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6054761934001_6054757798001-vs Pentagon calls missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing,’ report says fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc eeba8040-bdc7-590c-96cb-2bd6a83086fb article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6054761934001_6054757798001-vs Pentagon calls missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing,’ report says fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc eeba8040-bdc7-590c-96cb-2bd6a83086fb article

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Iran likely at ‘inflection point,’ launching attacks to change ‘status quo,’ Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6051429394001_6051423657001-vs Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Cyd Upson Catherine Herridge article a7e19a4b-a77d-5855-815c-7dac74062eb9

Iran is likely at “an inflection point,” and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change “the status quo,” the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively.

“I’d say that they’re probably at an inflection point right now,” the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency. Director Ashley said, based on their activity over the last several years, the Iranians would probably say they were in a “favorable” position with their influence over the Iraqi government and the likelihood their longtime regional ally — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — will remain in power.

But, Director Ashley — whose agency’s mission is to understand foreign militaries and the operational environment — said the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran deal and subsequent sanctions made a major impact on the regime. Later this year, DIA expects to release an unclassified military study on Iran, which follows similar reports on China and Russia.

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“As you look at the developments of JCPOA (the Iran deal), the lack of an economic outcome for them, and then, really, the sanctions which have put a lot of pressure on the Iranian government… I think this uptick that you’ve seen is a reflection of them trying to kind of change the status quo in the path that they’re on,” Ashley said.

He continued, “I would say the pressure campaign is working and there is hardship. And, you know, the president has asked the question before, “Does this have an impact on the Iranian people?” And, it has an impact on the entire nation when you look at their economy, because the economyʼs moving into a recession and they are struggling.”

When the U.S. surveillance drone was shot down last week, the Defense Intelligence Agency provided immediate analysis of Iran’s military capabilities. This past Friday, Ashley described recent events avoiding operational details citing national security reasons.

“We map those things out for the chairman, for the secretary, for the warfighters, so that they can have a sense of, what are the capabilities the Iranians have, what are the possible reactions that they might take if pressure’s put upon them. And so, we give them options to understand what are the low, mid, and high probability kind of reactions from the Iranians.”

Tehran’s threat this past week to surpass enriched uranium limits brokered by the Obama administration — a deal President Trump abandoned — may be designed to pressure other nations to rein in the U.S., Ashley said. “They’re looking to go beyond 300 kilograms, and with the Iraq heavy water nuclear reactor, to start increasing the – the heavy water – that that produces as well,” Ashley said.

“I think one of the things that Iranians and we assess is, they want to figure out how they can also leverage the European nations to come back in and bring the dialogue back to the floor and to have those discussions… if they were to break out and start fully building out the program, then it’s still about a year out before they can actually get to a weapon.”

On a high-security installation near the Pentagon, Fox News went inside the secretive agency. Its analysts were embedded with Special Forces to track Saddam Hussein to his hiding place, the so-called spider hole, in Iraq, as well as Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden to his Pakistan compound.

“Being in the Air Force I have used information that came from DIA and see the other side of it, and how, if the information isn’t correct or isn’t up to date, how that could impact the warfighters deployed,” Staff Sgt. Leanna Parker, a military forces analyst, said. “They use this (intelligence) on a day-to-day basis. It’s that tactical piece versus strategic — looking five years ahead — this is something they can use today.”

TRUMP WARNS WAR WITH IRAN WOULD LEAD TO ‘OBLITERATION’

Now, the pivot has been away from terrorism to competition between nations.

“China is the long-term concern. If you think about Russia, in so many ways, even though they have thousands of nuclear weapons and a lot of things that are left over from the Soviet era. In a lot of ways they are a declining power, especially economically,” Ashley told Fox News.

But, China and Russia are working together against U.S. interests.

“It is a transactional relationship,” Ashley said. “This is not a relationship that’s built on trust. This is a relationship that’s built on a mutual interest, which is, where do they block us… and in many ways, China looks at Russia as a junior partner and that’s not something that they like.”

Though President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently exchanged letters, Ashley said the findings of the intelligence community — or “IC” — have not changed.

“We still continue to assess within the IC that Kim Jong Un is not ready to denuclearize… We’re still doing everything we can to make sure that we can characterize the capability that the North Koreans have, that they continue to train hard and build out their forces. And so, whether weʼre in discussions or whatever is happening on the political side of that, for the policymakers and for the senior decision makers, our job is to make sure that we’re able to tell them what is happening, because they may go into a negotiation and hear something, but we’re able to give them as much ground truth as possible which gives them leverage and advantage.”

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One of Ashley’s goals is the MARS project — which is short for Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System — which brings together current military intelligence databases with artificial intelligence to put together “a virtual environment so that the decision makers can understand strength, weaknesses, capabilities, and that we can do it in a very dynamic fashion.”

Ashley said, “the goal is not to go to war, it’s to prevent war, and that really is the outcome that we desire. But, if we do go to war, obviously the objective is to win.”

Fox News’ Cecilia Duffy contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6051429394001_6051423657001-vs Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Cyd Upson Catherine Herridge article a7e19a4b-a77d-5855-815c-7dac74062eb9   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6051429394001_6051423657001-vs Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Cyd Upson Catherine Herridge article a7e19a4b-a77d-5855-815c-7dac74062eb9

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President Trump to nominate Army’s Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary

President Trump plans to nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper as the nation’s next defense secretary, the White House announced Friday evening.

Esper is set to start as acting defense secretary Monday following the departure Friday of current acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the Washington Post reported.

The transition at the Pentagon comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, following Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone over international waters and the country’s suspected involvement on attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month.

WHO IS MARK ESPER, TRUMP’S NEW ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PICK?

Westlake Legal Group esper President Trump to nominate Army's Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc e344648a-f265-527c-8734-651bf8d8f732 Brie Stimson article

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 2, 2019. (Associated Press)

President Trump had announced Tuesday that Shanahan was withdrawing from consideration for a permanent appointment to lead the Pentagon because of family matters. In that same message, the president revealed that Esper was his choice to succeed Shanahan.

“I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!,” the president wrote.

Esper has been secretary of the Army since November 2017. He served in the Gulf War, worked on Capitol Hill and has been a lobbyist for Raytheon, a defense contractor. His Washington experience far outweighs that of Shanahan, who was a Boeing executive.

After Esper was nominated to lead the Army in 2017, the former infantry officer was confirmed by the Senate in an 89-6 vote, the Hill reported.

There has been no permanent secretary of defense since James Mattis resigned last December. Under the Vacancies Reform Act, which says department secretary positions can have an acting head for only 210 days, Trump must nominate a defense secretary by July 30, the Washington Post reported.

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If nominated, Esper will have to step down from his acting secretary role while the Senate considers his nomination.

Westlake Legal Group esper President Trump to nominate Army's Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc e344648a-f265-527c-8734-651bf8d8f732 Brie Stimson article   Westlake Legal Group esper President Trump to nominate Army's Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc e344648a-f265-527c-8734-651bf8d8f732 Brie Stimson article

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Polish ‘Fort Trump’ ahead? US troops set for deployment

The U.S. is expected to add at least 1,000 troops to the 4,000 already stationed in Poland, a sign of strengthening ties between President Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda at a time when many other nations in the E.U. are drifting away.

“We are looking for a quantity and quality increase in military presence, an enduring presence of American troops in Poland,” Maciej Golubiewski, the consul general of the Republic of Poland in New York, told Fox News on Tuesday.

Discussions of an augmented and fixed U.S. presence have taken place under the nickname “Fort Trump,” and Polish officials haven’t ruled out the possibility of some future base taking on that very name, depending on how the new agreement is structured.

Westlake Legal Group 1c97b5b9-03_rtx3a9ob Polish 'Fort Trump' ahead? US troops set for deployment Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc f5dec982-1e4e-551d-be64-67db39f31a54 article

People holding portraits of President Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda in July 2017. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel, File)

“It could be dispersed, or more concentrated in different geographic positions,” Golubiewski said. “Details are worked out by the two teams, and discussions have been sped up over the past four months.”

Westlake Legal Group consul Polish 'Fort Trump' ahead? US troops set for deployment Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc f5dec982-1e4e-551d-be64-67db39f31a54 article

Consul General Maciej Golubiewski. (New York Consulate General)

A formal announcement of the boosted noncombat deployment is expected in Washington on Wednesday, when Duda stands alongside his American counterpart for the second time in nine months.

But what is most important to Warsaw, Golubiewski asserted, is that the military relationship is fortified in perpetuity, as opposed to the existing “rotational” deployment system.

THE CALIFORNIA GIRL WHO DEFINED UNDERGROUND RUSSIAN PUNK ROCK AND BECAME A KGB ‘ENEMY OF THE STATE’

For months, Warsaw has been advocating for a permanent presence to serve as a counterweight to Russian domination at its border. Despite having been a NATO partner since 1999, Poland has not had the kind of fixed habitation of NATO troops that its Western neighbors — Germany and Italy, for instance — have enjoyed. And Poland has expressed continued concern over Russian interference and its vulnerability and proximity.

Beyond the buildup of ground troops, officials are endeavoring to shore up their defense relationship through equipment purchases. Golubiewski noted that the “groundbreaking” trip will also entail further talks with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and National Security Adviser John Bolton concerning Poland’s desire to purchase 32 F-35A fighter jets and additional U.S.-made defense equipment — $48 billion worth over the next seven years.

Westlake Legal Group US-Soldiers-Poland-DVIDS Polish 'Fort Trump' ahead? US troops set for deployment Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc f5dec982-1e4e-551d-be64-67db39f31a54 article

Battle Group Poland taking part in Operation Raider Thunder. (File)

WORLD LEADERS INCLUDING PRESIDENT TRUMP GATHER TO COMMEMORATE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY LANDINGS

“Poland will be the regional hub of security, the Eastern flank needs strengthening and Poland is a crucial part of that,” he said. “Poland needs to have proper military deterrence and posture.”

Golubiewski also pointed out that his homeland has in recent years proved to be one of the few NATO states to have adhered to spending a minimum of 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense commitments, an issue that has featured prominently in Trump’s policy since his 2016 campaign.

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Following Washington, Duda is slated to visit Texas, Nevada and California to further discuss defense, energy, trade, security and technology advancement issues.

“The Polish president has developed an intense relationship with Trump; there is a mutual appreciation of values between the countries,” Golubiewski added.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 1c97b5b9-03_rtx3a9ob Polish 'Fort Trump' ahead? US troops set for deployment Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc f5dec982-1e4e-551d-be64-67db39f31a54 article   Westlake Legal Group 1c97b5b9-03_rtx3a9ob Polish 'Fort Trump' ahead? US troops set for deployment Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc f5dec982-1e4e-551d-be64-67db39f31a54 article

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Trump, Defense boss Shanahan both deny link to USS John S. McCain ‘out of sight’ directive

A mystery continues to surround a reported U.S. military email that called for the USS John S. McCain to be “out of sight” during President Trump’s recent visit to U.S. troops stationed in Japan, where the ship was docked.

On Wednesday, both President Trump and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied any knowledge of the order, which led to the ship’s name first being covered with a tarp and then being obscured by a paint barge prior to Trump’s visit over Memorial Day weekend.

“I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan,” President Trump wrote on Twitter late Wednesday. “Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!”

USS JOHN S MCCAIN LEAVES DRY DOCK MORE THAN YEAR AFTER FATAL COLLISION

A spokesman for Secretary Shanahan later issued the following statement: “Secretary Shanahan was not aware of the directive to move the USS John S McCain nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive.”

“Secretary Shanahan was not aware of the directive to move the USS John S McCain nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive.”

— Statement from office of Patrick Shanahan, acting secretary of defense

That statement appeared to contradict a Wall Street Journal story, which cited an unnamed U.S. official as saying that Shanahan was “aware of the concern about the presence of the USS John McCain in Japan and approved measures to ensure it didn’t interfere with the president’s visit.”

The existence of the email – sent by an unnamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials – was first reported by the Journal. The newspaper’s story claimed that orders referring to the USS John S. McCain originated from “the White House,” but named no specific official.

The ship is named for the father and grandfather of the late U.S. Sen. John S. McCain III, with whom President Trump had feuded prior to the Arizona Republican’s death from cancer last year at age 81.

The emergence of the Journal story apparently infuriated Meghan McCain, daughter of the late senator and a co-host of ABC’s “The View” – who, like her late father, is a frequent Trump critic.

MEGHAN MCCAIN DISMISSES ‘VIEW’ CONVERSATION: ‘I’M NOT CHANGING YOUR MINDS THIS MORNING’

In a tweet Wednesday that preceded the president’s message, Meghan McCain appeared to insinuate that the order to obscure the ship’s name had come from the president.

Meghan McCain retweeted the Journal story, adding the following comment: “Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads [sic] incredible life. There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him. It makes my grief unbearable.”

Since McCain’s death, the late senator’s 34-year-old daughter has been quick to defend his legacy. Just two days earlier, Meghan McCain aimed her ire at Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a candidate for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Klobuchar recently claimed that the late senator “kept reciting to me names of dictators” during President Trump’s inaugural address in 2017, suggesting that the elder McCain dreaded the thought of a Trump presidency.

Westlake Legal Group trump-mccains Trump, Defense boss Shanahan both deny link to USS John S. McCain ‘out of sight’ directive fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/meghan-mccain fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc ef6c67f4-ad3c-541d-bf1b-9c36db3f5e36 Dom Calicchio article

President Trump has feuded with both Sen. John McCain, who died last year, and with his daughter Meghan McCain.

But Meghan McCain said she and her family would prefer if the late senator’s name not be invoked at all during the 2020 election season.

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“On behalf of the entire McCain family, [Amy Klobuchar], please be respectful to all of us and leave my father’s legacy and memory out of presidential politics,” the late senator’s daughter wrote.

Ultimately, the Journal reported, the tarp that covered the name of the USS John S. McCain was removed Saturday and the paint barge that obscured the name was removed as well – both ahead of Trump’s visit, Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, told the newspaper.

President Trump spoke to the Japan-based U.S. troops Tuesday while aboard the USS Wasp, which was docked at the same naval base as the USS John S. McCain.

Westlake Legal Group trump-mccains Trump, Defense boss Shanahan both deny link to USS John S. McCain ‘out of sight’ directive fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/meghan-mccain fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc ef6c67f4-ad3c-541d-bf1b-9c36db3f5e36 Dom Calicchio article   Westlake Legal Group trump-mccains Trump, Defense boss Shanahan both deny link to USS John S. McCain ‘out of sight’ directive fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/meghan-mccain fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc ef6c67f4-ad3c-541d-bf1b-9c36db3f5e36 Dom Calicchio article

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Patrick Shanahan says he appreciates Trump’s executive experience: ‘focused on outcomes and results’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6035735291001_6035736128001-vs Patrick Shanahan says he appreciates Trump's executive experience: 'focused on outcomes and results' Frank Miles fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/politics/defense/secretary-of-defense fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc dcf276b1-e6f4-55e8-8b6b-46a71754c871 article

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told Fox News about why he likes working for President Trump in a “Fox & Friends” exclusive interview set to air Monday and Tuesday.

“What I like about working with the president is, he’s a CEO,” Shanahan told Brian Kilmeade.

“I’ve worked for CEOs. He’s focused on outcomes and results. Will we always agree on everything? No. Are we focused? Do we have the same interests? And the same focus? Yes. My job is to get the results we need to make this country successful. To defend this country.”

The White House on Thursday announced that Trump intends to nominate Shanahan as defense secretary, ending months of speculation about Pentagon leadership. He has served in an interim capacity since Jan. 1, an unprecedented period of uncertainty at the helm of the Pentagon.

Trump elevated the former Boeing Co. executive from deputy secretary to replace Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in December.

TRUMP ADMIN CRACKS DOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN PUBLIC HOUSING

Shanahan, a pedigreed engineer, moved up through the management ranks at Boeing over a career that began in 1986. The Puget Sound Business Journal called him a Boeing “fix-it” man in a March 2016 report. He oversaw the company’s global supply-chain strategies and use of advanced manufacturing technologies. Shanahan was central to getting the 787 Dreamliner on track after production problems in the program’s early years, the report said.

In March, the Defense Department’s inspector general investigated accusations that Shanahan had shown favoritism toward Boeing during his time as deputy defense secretary, while disparaging Boeing competitors. The investigation appeared to stall his nomination, but the internal watchdog wrapped up the inquiry in April and cleared Shanahan of any wrongdoing.

Shanahan’s next steps are to provide backup for Trump’s agenda globally.

“The strategy with North Korea hasn’t changed because it’s a diplomatic one, but it’s about full denuclearization,” he said. “My job is to make sure that we’re prepared in the event diplomacy fails. That’s my focus with the military. There’s no change to our force posture, our force preparation and our readiness.”

Shanahan also visited a border city in Texas on Saturday, where he noted that he intended to accelerate planning to secure the border and bolster the administration’s ability to accomplish that without the Pentagon’s continuous help.

He also offered assurances the Pentagon would not withdraw its military support prematurely.

He reiterated the same to Fox News.

“We’re gonna be here until the borders are secure,” he told Kilmeade. “We’ve got to have the backs of the men and women here who are being overrun.”

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Shanahan told Congress this past week that there have been 4,364 military troops on the border, including active-duty and National Guard, building barriers, providing logistics and transportation service and other activities in support of Customs and Border Protection. The troops have been prohibited from performing law enforcement duties.

Troops have been deployed on the border since last October and are set to remain there through September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6035735291001_6035736128001-vs Patrick Shanahan says he appreciates Trump's executive experience: 'focused on outcomes and results' Frank Miles fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/politics/defense/secretary-of-defense fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc dcf276b1-e6f4-55e8-8b6b-46a71754c871 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6035735291001_6035736128001-vs Patrick Shanahan says he appreciates Trump's executive experience: 'focused on outcomes and results' Frank Miles fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/politics/defense/secretary-of-defense fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc dcf276b1-e6f4-55e8-8b6b-46a71754c871 article

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Pentagon approves plan to shift $1.5B for wall along US-Mexico border

Westlake Legal Group pentagon-approves-plan-to-shift-1-5b-for-wall-along-us-mexico-border Pentagon approves plan to shift $1.5B for wall along US-Mexico border Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 0b588fed-d3b6-5f92-a9e2-893a42de8ac6
Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6026779982001_6026779741001-vs Pentagon approves plan to shift $1.5B for wall along US-Mexico border Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 0b588fed-d3b6-5f92-a9e2-893a42de8ac6

The Pentagon has approved a plan to spend an additional $1.5 billion to build 80 more miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News Friday.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the re-allocation of funds, which were originally earmarked for support of Afghan security forces and other projects, to help pay for the wall along the southern border.

TRUMP TO NOMINATE PATRICK M. SHANAHAN AS DEFENSE SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE SAYS

“Today, I authorized the transfer of $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 80 miles of border barrier,” he said. “The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes, and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness.”

In March, Shanahan approved the first transfer of Defense Department dollars and redirected $1 billion to help build nearly 60 miles of wall in Yuma, Ariz. and El Paso, Texas.

The combined total of $2.5 billion is in response to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border.

But the plan to divert Pentagon funding has sparked criticism from congressional Democrats, who accused Shanahan of not seeking approval to “reprogram” the funds without congressional authority. Shanahan and other senior defense officials claimed in response they did not have to get permission from Congress despite the objections from Democratic lawmakers.

OVER 100K ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS APPREHENDED OR TURNED AWAY IN APRIL, CBP REVEALS

Shanahan, who has said he plans to visit the border on Saturday, said that the Pentagon is “fully engaged” in fixing the border crisis. He said that more than 4,000 troops and 19 aircraft are supporting Customs and Border Protection personnel.

The funds are being reprogrammed from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, a project focused on chemical weapons, Air Force programs, savings related to a military retirement system, and coalition support funds. The Pentagon is also expected, at some point, to transfer up to $3.6 billion from military construction budgets to pay for wall construction, but details of those plans have yet to be announced.

The move comes after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that the president would officially nominate Shanahan to be the next U.S. secretary of defense. The decision to have Shanahan permanently lead the department “is based upon his outstanding service to the country and his demonstrated ability to lead.”

“Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do so,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday.

Shanahan said he was “honored” by Trump’s decision.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I will continue the aggressive implementation of our National Defense Strategy,” he said. “I remain committed to modernizing the force so our remarkable Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have everything they need to keep our military lethal and our country safe.”

Fox News’ Liz Zwirz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6026779982001_6026779741001-vs Pentagon approves plan to shift $1.5B for wall along US-Mexico border Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 0b588fed-d3b6-5f92-a9e2-893a42de8ac6   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6026779982001_6026779741001-vs Pentagon approves plan to shift $1.5B for wall along US-Mexico border Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 0b588fed-d3b6-5f92-a9e2-893a42de8ac6

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