Rosen Pushes Biden Administration to Respond to Increased Iranian Aggression, Protect American Servicemembers

This Comes After Iranian-Backed Militias Attacked A U.S. Base In Syria Last Week, Killing An American

Watch Video of the Exchange Here.

WASHINGTON, DC – At a hearing of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) pushed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on the Administration’s military response to increased Iranian aggression in the Middle East, and what actions they are taking to proactively target these militias before they are able to injure and kill American servicemembers. This comes on the heels of a recent Iranian-aligned militia attack on a U.S. base in Syria, killing an American contractor and injuring several U.S. servicemembers – one of over eighty such attacks that have taken place over the past two years. 

Last year, Senator Rosen helped introduce and pass into law the bipartisan DEFEND Act, which advances an integrated air and missile defense architecture between the U.S., Israel, and Arab states to protect against Iranian aggression in the Middle East. The legislation, introduced with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), was included in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act.

Below is an excerpt of the exchange:

ROSEN: Attacks on U.S. installations and servicemembers by Iran’s terrorist proxies are increasing — particularly by rocket and drone attack. The Pentagon estimates that hundreds of American troops have been killed by Iranian-backed militias, including, as we’ve discussed already today, a deadly attack last week on a U.S. base in Syria. 


Secretary Austin, I appreciate that in this latest instance last week, the U.S. responded with airstrikes against individuals connected with the IRGC, but just as you told my colleague, Senator Cotton and Senator Budd, we know there have been about 83 such attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. forces in Syria in the past two years alone. We’ve only retaliated four times.

And so why has the United States responded so infrequently, particularly when these militias are the most pervasive threat to U.S. and coalition forces in the region?

AUSTIN: […] In terms of major responses, you’re right, there’s only been four of those. You know, the three tours I spent in Iraq, I can tell you that me and my troops received a lot of attacks from Iranian-backed militias. But when we respond, we want to make sure that we are going after the element that’s responsible for whatever that activity is.


ROSEN: General Milley, […]what can we do proactively to counter these militias before they injure and kill American servicemembers?


MILLEY: We have to work closely with the Iraqi government for those Shia militia groups that are inside Iraq, and we have to continue to work with our partners in the region for the attacks that are occurring in Syria. […] And then also putting these groups on notice. The various Shia militia groups – we know who they are – letting them know that we will respond affirmatively and forcefully if they attack our troops. […] We do know that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force, and specifically their Quds Force, which is designated a terrorist organization – that group there is what we need to be targeting and targeting them very harshly over time, and that is exactly what we plan on doing.