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Gambrell, Baldor break news that US might put armed troops on civilian ships to counter Iran

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Jon Gambrell and Lolita C. Baldor broke news about a major development in the escalating U.S.-Iran tensions: The Pentagon is considering putting armed Marines and sailors on commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz to guard against Iranian harassment and seizures.

Baldor, a Pentagon reporter, had heard from a source weeks earlier that Marines being deployed in the Persian Gulf might do some interesting things, and she should keep an eye on them. The tip was vague but prompted Baldor to talk to sources about the issue.

Meanwhile, Gambrell, the Gulf and Iran news director, had been reporting on increased U.S.-Iran tensions and was following the deployment of the amphibious assault ship to the USS Bataan to the Mideast. In the course of reporting on other stories regarding the ship, a source tipped Gambrell that the U.S. had a potential plan to put armed sailors and Marines aboard civilian ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz. That would be something never done before in the region, even in 1988, when the U.S. and Iran fought a one-day naval battle.

Gambrell contacted Washington-based colleagues, including Baldor who quickly reached out to a number of sources and confirmed. The two quickly pulled together an alert and story. It was an exclusive and sent the competition scrambling to match, with most crediting AP for breaking the story.

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