Wow! Talk about a Charley Foxtrot (aka Cluster F*ck). CENTCOM (i.e., U.S. Central Command put out a press release about the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) attack on its base located on the northern border of Jordan known as Tower 22. Why is it a Charley Foxtrot? Because it is now clear that Jordan did not want this base identified and is loathe to admit that it has U.S. troops in its territory.
The Kingdom of Jordan wasted no time in denying that this took place inside Jordan:
Jordanian Minister of Government Communications Muhannad Mubaidin said Sunday that the attack targeting U.S. forces near the Syrian border did not occur inside Jordan.
Mubaidin told the state-run Al Mamlaka TV that the attack targeted the al-Tanf base in southeastern Syria.
I do not know what the nature of the basing agreement between Jordan and the United States. Normally, a host country would stipulate that the U.S. could (or could not) acknowledge military operations or activities. In this case it looks like CENTCOM issued the statement about the attack without consulting with the Government of Jordan. This could mean that going forward, the Jordanians may ask the United States to shut down its operations and move everything across the border into Syria. I imagine my former colleagues at the State Department are scrambling to try to un-ruffle Jordan’s feathers. At a time when the U.S. is desperate to keep its allies in the region on board with U.S. policy, this is a major black eye for U.S./Jordanian relations.
The Pentagon is being very stingy with details surrounding the attack. This was not a small drone. This is the kind of damage and casualty count you would get from something like a Hellfire missile. I’m not saying that was what was used. But the UAS was large and carried a powerful warhead of some kind.
The other oddity is that U.S. military sources are claiming that the U.S. forces that it was a “friendly” aircraft, which is supposed to explain why no air defense was activated. Here is the latest excuse:
American air defenses failed to intercept an attack drone that killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens in Jordan because the incoming aircraft was mistaken for a friendly drone returning to the base, officials said Monday. . . .
The weaponized drone struck the soldiers’ living quarters, described as containerized housing, at a facility known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan, where its border converges with Syria and Iraq. Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the attack occurred early Sunday as personnel at the base were still in bed asleep.
The Pentagon has revised the number of personnel injured in the attack, from 34 to more than 40, Singh said. Another official, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the military’s ongoing assessment of the incident, said 47 troops were wounded as a result of the incident.
Fifty total casualties? Holy smoke. I think the only drone in the U.S. arsenal packing that kind of punch is the MQ Predator B:
The MQ-9 carries a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb, the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
So what was it? Has Iran or some other country or group got its hands on a system comparable to the MQ 9 drone? Or was this a ballistic missile that the air defense failed to engage? The current story about the tyrpe of weapon used is not the truth. What is certain is that whatever air defense system in place on that base failed.
I discussed some of the latest developments in Ukraine and the attack on Tower 22 with the Judge this morning: