Iran-proxy drone got past Tower 22 air defenses because it was mistaken for US drone returning to base
A U.S. official confirmed to Fox News the drone from an Iranian proxy that killed 3 American service members in Jordan and injured others got past the air defenses for Tower 22 because it was mistaken for a U.S. drone expected to return to the base at the same time.
The Wall Street Journal initially reported on this development on Monday. A U.S. official confirmed the information to Fox News.
President Biden has vowed to take action against Iranian-backed militants in the Middle East after the drone attack at Tower 22, a post in Jordan near Syria's border, over the weekend.
According to U.S. officials who spoke with the Journal, the enemy drone was launched from Iraq by a militia backed by Tehran, but Iran rejected "baseless" claims it was linked to the attack.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed the attack when he returned to work at the Pentagon on Monday after nearly a month's absence because of prostate cancer.
"Let me start with my outrage and sorrow for the deaths of three brave U.S. troops in Jordan and for the other troops who were wounded. The president and I will not tolerate attack on U.S. forces. And we will take all necessary actions to defend the U.S. and our troops," Austin said, while meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., who serves on the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees and is a former U.S. Army special forces commander, told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on Monday that Iran "has gotten the message loud and clear that they can get away with it."
"To the extent we do respond, it will be feckless," he said. "I’ve talked to soldiers out in the field and to commanders that are out in the Middle East right now. We’re bombing empty warehouses in the middle of the night so that the administration can check the box to look like they’re doing something in response but they’re still beholden to this appeasement strategy when it comes to Iran."
"This is blood on this administration’s hands," he added.
Waltz also reacted to the breaking news about the base mistaking the drone for its own.
"At this point, I’m speculating, and we’ll asking for briefings on exactly what happened. Did our defensive measures fail? Had they captured one of their drones and reversed engineered theirs? This is the cat and mouse game that’s going on," Waltz said. "But bigger picture, we’re shooting down these $30,000-40,000 drones with $2-3 million missiles – it’s not sustainable, and from my position as the chairman of military readiness, we’re going to be pressing the Pentagon, how are we reacting when you can throw thousands of these things at very little cost – can literally buy them on Chinese websites, like Alibaba…"
"That’s a broader issue of how we have to adjust in the tactical space, but strategically, we have a fundamental, in this administration, misunderstanding of deterrents. They’re so obsessed with non-escalation that it’s actually inviting escalation and now people are dead because of it," he said.
In the latest update later Sunday, U.S. Central Command said that the number of U.S. personnel with injuries increased from 25 to at least 34 service members, but the number was expected to fluctuate as service members continue to seek follow-on care. Eight personnel that received injuries required evacuation from Jordan to higher level care, but they are in stable condition, CENTCOM said. All other service members are being fully evaluated for follow-on care. The three service members killed have not yet been identified.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to email@example.com and on Twitter: @danimwallace.