On Saturday, January 27, 2024, a one-way drone armed with an explosive was launched by an Iranian-backed militia group that killed three U.S. Army soldiers in northeastern Jordan. In addition to the three deaths, more than 40 U.S. service members were injured. Eight of the injured were in stable condition but were flown to further medical treatment to the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center in Iraq. Three of those patients are scheduled to be transported to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for follow-on care; one of these patients in critical but stable condition.
The three soldiers were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, Fort Moore, Georgia. The brigade is part of the U.S. Army Reserve. They were deployed to Jordan in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and the international coalition working to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS.
The deceased soldiers are:
- Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia
- Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Georgia
- Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia
The one-way unmanned aerial system (OWUAS) impacted their container housing units. Some news reports state that the OWUAS followed or arrived at the Tower 22 location the same time that a U.S. military drone was returning to the outpost. This contributed to the attacking drone not being engaged by the U.S. forces base air defense systems. It is speculated that the drone attack came from Iraq. A White House statement blamed the attack on radical Iran-backed militant groups. The Iraq border is only ten miles away.
The location of the attack is a small military post known as “Tower 22” (The Intel Crab, Twitter) very close to the tri-border area of Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. The area is known as Rukban and there was a large refugee camp in the area at one time during the occupation of much of Syria by the Islamic State several years ago. It is believed that U.S. forces have been at the Tower 22 location since 2015.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack. This group emerged after the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. It was formed from several militias that are aligned with Iran, some with a history of attacking U.S. interests in Iraq and Syria.
The Al Tanf garrison, which in the past has served as a launch pad for an American SOF contingent, is just across the border in Syria – about 12 miles north. The Al Tanf garrison is also a site of U.S. conventional troops. Al Tanf, in Syria, sits on a key highway that links Iraq with Syria. Tower 22, in Jordan, is part of a cluster of smaller bases supporting Al Tanf. According to CENTCOM, Tower 22 is a logistics base with approximately 350 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel that support the effort to defeat ISIS.
Jordan has been a key ally for the United States in the Middle East. A number of military exercises, such as Exercise Eager Lion, take place each year. In 2016 three Green Berets were killed in Jordan. The three were members of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) who came under fire while entering a Jordanian airbase. in 2017 another member of the 5th SFG(A) died in a non-combat related incident. Currently there are over 2,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Jordan.
In response to this drone attack the Biden administration has convened a series of meetings in the White House Situation Room with members of the national security team. They have been discussing the latest developments in the Middle East and this recent attack in Jordan. On the table is exactly how to respond to the attack. Most likely, according to national security ‘experts’, there will be U.S. attacks against Iranian proxies in the region.
The number of attacks against the U.S. in the Middle East have increased significantly since the Israeli response to the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7, 2023. From October 17th to January 29th, there have been 165 attacks against U.S. troops and facilities. Iraq – 66, Syria – 98, and this one in Jordan.
There is a lot for the U.S. to consider in its search for a response. How to deter Iran from future attacks yet, at the same time, not escalate the tense Middle East situation into a wider conflict? To what extent is the U.S. already involved in a wider Middle East conflict? What level of response should take place – one that is ‘proportional’ or one that would punish Iran and its proxies? Should the U.S. scale back its presence in the Middle East, leaving it less exposed? Should the U.S. hit leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?
“DoD Identifies Army Casualties”, DOD, January 29, 2024.