Marine General Joseph Dunford, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Picture: Dominique A. Pineiro, Zuma Press, PA Images).
A top general says the US wants to create an international military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants a joint diplomatic and military operation.
He said the Pentagon has developed a specific plan, and that he believes it will be clear within a couple of weeks which nations are willing to join the effort.
Mark Esper, the acting secretary of defence, raised the issue last month with allied officials at NATO headquarters, but no nations were ready to commit to participating.
Mr Esper said at the time that the plans would have to be further refined.
General Dunford said he discussed the matter on Tuesday with Mr Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that plans are coming together.
"This will be scalable," Gen Dunford said.
"So, with a small number of contributors, we can have a small mission and we'll expand that as the number of nations that are willing to participate identify themselves."
He said the US military's main role would be to provide "maritime domain awareness" - intelligence and surveillance information - to the ships of coalition partners.
These vessels would conduct patrols in vulnerable waterways like the Strait of Hormuz, which separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman, as well as the Bab el Mandeb, a heavily trafficked strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.