South Dakota reaction to deadly air strike in Iraq

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The U.S. air strike that killed a top Iranian military leader is strongly supported by South Dakota’s congressional delegation as well as a retired army general.

President Trump said Friday he ordered the killing of the Iranian general ‘to stop a war,’ and says the U.S. is ‘ready and prepared’ for any response. To that end, the president is sending an additional 3,000 troops to the Middle East.

The air strike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani whom the U.S. blames for planning a rocket attack that killed an American contractor and for approving the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad earlier this week. The U.S. says Soleimani was planning more attacks, and for those reasons, U.S. Senator John Thune and others say Soleimani needed to be taken out.

Thune learned of the air strike that killed General Soleimani like most other Americans did, through news reports. While Thune says he approves of the attack, he thinks Congress should have been more in the loop about the president’s decision.

“I think it’s always ideal, particularly the notification to Congress, the so-called Big Eight, which is the leaders on both sides in the House and Senate and then the intelligence committee chairs. In this case, it doesn’t sound like that protocol was followed. But again, the president does have authority as commander-in-chief to defend the country and I think he was acting on that authority, in this case,” Thune said.

While critics say the attack was reckless and has made the world a less safe place, Thune says the world is much better off with Soleimani gone.

“I think it was fairly quick, fairly swift and decisive action,” Thune said.

Retired army general Lynn Hartsell of Canton, who spent time in Iraq during the first Gulf War, says the air strike was a necessary move against Iran.

“In my opinion, to not do it would have been a dereliction of duty of the commander-in-chief with his most primary duty, which is to protect American lives,” Hartsell said.

While Hartsell expects Iran to respond to the attack, he does not think it will escalate to an all-out-war.

“You may see them trying to block shipments of oil through the straits there. You might see other types of small regional attacks in which case, if that happens, you deal with it case by case,” Hartsell said.

Hartsell says sending additional U.S. troops to the region is a good defensive move to help keep Iran in-check.

“You can’t deal with them with a velvet glove and nothing else,” Hartsell said.

Thune says he talked by phone Friday morning with Vice-President Mike Pence about the attack.

KELOLAND News received a statement from U.S. Senator Mike Rounds:

“Iran continues to threaten American citizens, service members and partners. Yesterday’s airstrike against Qassem Soleimani – head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization – was a necessary action designed to protect Americans from anticipated attacks that he was directly involved in planning. This decisive action was intended to pre-emptively stop further attacks and let Iran know that threats to Americans will not be tolerated.”

Congressman Dusty Johnson shared his response by video:

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