Vice President Mike Pence told West Point graduates Saturday that it was a “virtual certainty” that they would see combat at some point.
“It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life,” he said in a graduation speech. “You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.”
Pence continued, “Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.”
Pence’s words took on additional significance in light of the administration’s increasingly aggressive posture toward Iran, a country of which he made no mention in his speech.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the executive branch was citing a loophole in federal law to sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates without congressional review. Iran’s “malign activity,” he wrote in a memo to the legislature, presents a “fundamental threat.”
In addition, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced Friday that the United States would send another 900 troops to the Middle East — and extend the service of 600 — as part of a deployment that includes jets, drones and a missile battalion.
The Pentagon has accused Iran of being behind a number of recent incidents, including attacks on several oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.