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Pentagon aims to use Marines to defend commercial tankers from Iran

Iran’s retaliation for US seizures of sanctioned oil shipments has drawn the military back into the Persian Gulf, but will the Biden administration authorize it to engage?
Christopher Nodine/US Navy via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The US military has devised a plan to deploy Marines and Navy personnel onboard commercial tanker vessels in the Persian Gulf region to deter seizure attempts by Iran.

A contingent of US Marines has already arrived in Bahrain and begun training for the proposed mission ahead of the expected arrival of a Marine Expeditionary Unit next week, a US official confirmed to Al-Monitor on Thursday.

The plan, first reported by the Associated Press, does not yet have full approval from the Biden administration and will first require diplomatic agreements with foreign governments as well as voluntary requests from shipping companies, Al-Monitor's sources said.

If fully approved by the White House, the broader proposal would leverage the military's existing self-defense authorities to enable the Marines, backed up by US warplanes and Navy ships, to protect civilian tankers flying flags other than those of the United States and its allies, five officials briefed on the discussions told Al-Monitor.

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