SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. — After a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, military families in the U.S. are closely watching news of escalating tensions, and wondering if further troop deployments come next.
“That’s personal to us, we know those people,” said Rochelle Pittis, from her home in Skagit County. “It’s not just some obscure ‘troops’ over there.”
Pittis is president of the Washington chapter of Blue Star Moms, a support group for military families. Her son Joe serves in the Army and is stationed in Colorado. He hasn’t been called up yet, but she worries and waits, like other mothers.
“Yeah I’ve talked to several families, several moms that have contacted me,” she said. “So I know they’re doing the same thing I am, they’re watching the news, holding their breath. Trying to breathe. It’s going to be OK. Even if they deploy, it’s going to be OK.”
The U.S. has already said it’s sending about 3,000 troops stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. to the Middle East. And as Iran promises “harsh retaliation” for Soleimani’s killing, some commentators worry war could be close at hand.
Barry McCaffrey, a retired U.S. Army 4-star General who now lives in Seattle, reflected on the chance of further escalation.
“Well I don’t think there’s much question that this is probably a major turning point in the confrontation with the Iranians,” he said. “We have got vulnerable troops spread out throughout Iraq. They are not configured for fighting, but for a training-advisor role.”
But he thinks it may not reach the point war, but if it did, impacts in the Northwest could be widespread.
“Well of course Washington State, we have an enormous amount of U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army combat units, all of which could be drawn into the Middle East if this conflagration increased,” he told KING 5. “I actually at the end of the day don’t think this is going to go high order, high-intensity warfare. It makes no sense for the Iranians. They’re going to have to take some action against us. I hope it isn’t provocative and outrageous, so I hope we’re able to back off.”
Pittis hopes the same – for other soldiers, and for her son.
“I hope it de-escalates, you never want to see that kind of thing,” she said. “I never want to hear that my child is going, or my good friend’s kid is going. But that’s exactly what’s going to happen, is that some of our kids are going to go over there.”
The uneasiness caused by the U.S. airstrike was also felt by local city leaders Friday, who are focused on security.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said there have been no credible threats against the city, but she and other leaders are monitoring the situation closely with the FBI and other authorities.
"There is no credible threat of anything in the Seattle-area, but it's an unsettling time, I think for our country," said Mayor Durkan. "And we can really expect there to be some kind of a reprisal and we want to make sure we're ready."
Sea-Tac International Airport officials said safety is their number one priority and Port of Seattle police continue to be vigilant in security efforts at Sea-Tac. However, airport officials said many behind the scenes efforts will not be noticed by travelers.