Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced Saturday that the United States is taking “additional steps” to increase U.S. strength in the Middle East, including preparing additional troops for potential deployment as tension continues to increase in the region.
“Following detailed discussions with President Biden on recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region, today I directed a series of additional steps to further strengthen the Department of Defense posture in the region,” Austin stated in a Department of Defense press release. “These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel.”
Austin explained that the Department of Defense was placing additional U.S. military troops on “prepare to deploy orders as part of prudent contingency planning.” He noted that the “prepare to deploy orders” would increase the “readiness” and the “ability” of U.S. forces to be able to respond to situations in the Middle East conflict.
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Last week, The Pentagon announced that 2,000 U.S. military troops had been selected to potentially deploy to help support Israel through non-combative roles.
In Saturday’s press release, Austin said the United States had redirected the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to U.S. Central Command.
“This carrier strike group is in addition to the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which is currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea,” he stated. “It will further increase our force posture and strengthen our capabilities and ability to respond to a range of contingencies.”
Austin also announced that the Department of Defense will be deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery, as well as more Patriot battalions, to U.S. bases in the Middle East region in order to “increase force protection for U.S. forces.”
“I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary,” Austin concluded.
According to Stars and Stripes, the Defense Department’s latest moves are intended to deter terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, from escalating the current conflict in the Middle East.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday that Iran-backed terrorist groups are allegedly planning attacks against U.S. forces in the Middle East as part of a “Revenge for Gaza” campaign.
Stars and Stripes noted that terrorist groups in the Middle East have used rockets and drones to target U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks against Israel.