The top US general made clear tonight that Iran meant to kill US troops in the ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq.
“I believe based on what I saw and what I know that they were intended to cause structural damage destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel. That’s my own personal assessment," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters today.
Milley is delivering a differing message that what some administration officials have floated to CNN, which is that Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that are populated by Americans, but intentionally did not.
Administration officials suggested Iran may have chosen to send a message rather than take significant enough action to provoke a substantial US military response, a possible signal the administration was looking for rationale to calm the tensions.
“Why were there no casualties? In my estimation from what I know now, I think it has more to do with the defensive techniques that our forces used as opposed to intent," Milley added.
Casualties were avoided due to “early warning," various tactics and “defensive procedures” put in place," Milley said.
“We took sufficient defensive measures that there were no casualties to US personnel, coalition personnel, contractors or Iraqis,” he added.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the intent “remains to be determined."