Iran Threatened Fort McNair and Army General

By Faye Higbee

Iran threatened Fort McNair, which is in DC, and the US Army’s Vice Chief of Staff General Joseph Martin, according to intelligence reports from the NSA. In response, the US Military re-requested a “buffer zone” along Washington DC’s Waterfront District. The DC leadership strongly opposes any buffer zone in the already congested area.

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Threats against Fort McNair and General Martin

They said communications intercepted by the National Security Agency in January showed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard discussed mounting “USS Cole-style attacks” against the Army post, referring to the October 2000 suicide attack in which a small boat pulled up alongside the Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden and exploded, killing 17 sailors.

The intelligence also revealed threats to kill Gen. Joseph M. Martin and plans to infiltrate and surveil the installation, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss national security matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Army post, one of the oldest in the country, is Martin’s official residence.


The intelligence sparked the latest demand for a buffer zone. The Army has been pushing to add 250 to 500 feet of “buffer zone” to protect the Army base and the channel from incursion by terrorists for the last two years. They also want increased security for the Marine Helicopter Squadron, due to its mission of transporting presidents, and the National War College, which sits at the southern trip of Fort McNair.

The proposed buffer zone- screenshot via Stripes/AP

The Army has already increased patrols along the shoreline, installed cameras, and posted signs regarding the restricted area. The enhanced restrictions would prohibit “anchoring, mooring or loitering” in that zone without permission.

“Those buoys aren’t going to do anything to enhance security. It will increase congestion in an already congested area. And I’ll say, signs do not stop people with bad intentions.”

Army Col. Guy Shields, Retired

Mr. Shields is correct, bad guys ignore signs or buoys. DC residents and leadership say that the Army hasn’t presented enough evidence that the buffer zone is actually needed, and claim it’s a government overreach on public waterways.

The new Washington Waterfront District ‘bustles’ with water taxis, new restaurants, marinas, river cruises, kayakers, and paddleboats. Any larger vessel traversing such a narrow zone could conceivably cause a problem if smaller recreational activities were being conducted in the area. The Army drew attention to a swimmer that breached the restrictions and ended up at the installation, only to be arrested. But that is the only example they could come up with, and they acknowledged that it wasn’t a good one.

Two other military facilities along the waterway, Washington Navy Yard and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, have not requested enhanced security.

“I have asked the Department of Defense to withdraw the rule because I’ve seen no evidence of a credible threat that would support the proposed restriction. They have been trying to get their way, but their proposal is more restrictive than necessary. I have a security clearance. And they have yet to show me any classified evidence that would justify the proposal.”

DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton


Featured photo: Screenshot of Washington DC channel via CT

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