Could more military forces in Jacksonville be mobilized in Middle East conflict?

VIDEO: Foreign policy strategist Nancy Soderberg served as a top-ranking national official in the Clinton administration and was a UN Ambassador, and while talking to our news partner WJCT, Soderberg says she thinks we are headed for increased escalation, which could mean local assets would have to be deployed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A stampede broke out Tuesday at the funeral for a top Iranian general slain in a U.S. airstrike, and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said.

Thousands of mourners had surrounded the coffin of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in his hometown of Kerman when the crash occurred. The deaths came as more angry calls rose from Iran to avenge Soleimani’s death.

The U.S. continued to reinforce its own positions in the region and warned of an unspecified threat to shipping from Iran in the region’s waterways, key routes for global energy supplies. U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans.

With thousands of US troops recently deployed to the Middle East, some are asking if more military forces in the Jacksonville area could be mobilized in the conflict.

Nancy Soderberg, an American foreign policy strategist who served as the third-ranking official on the Clinton Administration’s National Security Council, told WJCT’s Melissa Ross that she believes the death of General Qaseem Soleimani could incite more violence. She said it’s unclear the effect it could have on military personnel in Jacksonville, but she said if Iran retaliates that it’s likely a massive Naval presence in the Middle East would be necessary.

“At the moment we aren’t sending massive Naval powers that would affect our local families but it is entirely possible," Soderberg told Ross. "The history of Iran is to target ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Red Sea -- in that area that is crucial to trade and oil trade. So if this goes really south, and this turns into a tit for tat, then Naval forces will certainly be affected.”

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Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.