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What could rising tensions between US and Iran mean for Jacksonville?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three days after the U.S. airstrike in Bagdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, tensions have continued to increase between the United States and Iran.

The rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran have many speculating whether increased military action will be taken. On Sunday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would strike back at Iran if it takes any action “perhaps in a disproportionate manner.”

So now the question is what that could mean for Jacksonville-area military if what, so far, has been targeted military strikes turn into a full-blown conflict.

“It certainly could. It depends on how serious this issue becomes. A lot of that is contingent on anything the Iranians do,” said Retired Adm. Bob Natter, former commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet who lives in the Jacksonville area.

With two major naval installations and other military assets locally, News4Jax spoke with Natter about what sailors and other military personnel in Northeast Florida should be aware of.

He listed numerous local military units that could be employed if things escalate in the Middle East. At Mayport, he thinks amphibious ships, destroyers, a cruiser and the littoral combat ships at Mayport could all be deployed. At Naval Air Station Jacksonville, he believes the P-8s could be useful in the Middle East. He also mentioned reservists from the Army and Air National Guard could be viable military assets that would be needed if there is a conflict.

Natter was speculating if the locally-based units could be needed. This is all premature.

“The Pentagon will send out increased readiness levels, in which case they will have to ensure that their ship or squadrons are ready to go. That they’ve got the ordinance, ammunition and missiles on board and ready,” Natter said Sunday.

News4Jax also asked him how soon this would happen if the two countries engage militarily and Jacksonville units are used.

“It happens, initially, in days. They would take the most ready forces that were scheduled to deploy in the next month or so and they would go in a matter of days,” Natter said. “Other forces or assets that were not in such a high state of readiness would go weeks later.”

He said they could also start canceling leave if it gets to that point.


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