Following his order to shoot Iranian naval vessels if they harass American warships, President Donald Trump said Wednesday there is no need to change rules of engagement for the U.S. Navy.
“We’re covered. We’re one hundred percent covered”, Trump told reporters during his daily coronavirus briefing on April 22.
“We don’t want their gunboats surrounding our boats and traveling around our boats, and having a good time. We don’t want them anywhere near our boats,” Trump said, adding that the Iranian behavior puts U.S. forces in danger and reiterated, “I am not gonna let that happen…and we’ll shoot them out of the water.”
The United States revealed evidence last week saying the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) naval boats conducted dangerous maneuvers around U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf region.
Wednesday morning Trump tweeted, "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea." Hours earlier, the IRGC had announced the launch of a military satellite into orbit.
Senior Pentagon officials said that Trump's comments on Iran were meant as a warning to Tehran but suggested that the U.S. military would continue to abide by its existing right to self-defense instead of any changes to its rules.
"The president issued an important warning to the Iranians, what he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense," Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist told reporters at the Pentagon.