In response to a series of recent attacks on U.S. military facilities, the Pentagon has announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier and additional air defense systems to the Middle East. These measures come as tensions in the region rise amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, with growing concerns about Iranian-backed groups potentially involved in these attacks.
The aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and its accompanying strike group, which includes a cruiser and destroyers, have been redirected to the Middle East. This shift marks a significant change from their originally planned deployment to the eastern Mediterranean, where they were intended to join the USS Ford strike group as an additional deterrent against potential threats from Iran and Hezbollah.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated, “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. These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel.”
Over the past week, there has been a notable increase in security incidents involving drone and rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq, believed to be carried out by Iranian-backed groups opposed to the U.S. support of Israel in its conflict with Hamas. Tragically, a U.S. citizen working as a contractor at Al Asad airbase in western Iraq lost their life during an attack on the base last Wednesday.
In one particularly visible attack, the destroyer USS Carney intercepted four missiles and 15 drones fired from Yemen by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia. The Pentagon expressed concerns that these projectiles may have been headed towards targets in Israel. The USS Carney, stationed in the central Red Sea, utilized SM-2 air defense missiles and other capabilities to neutralize the threat.
The U.S. response includes the deployment of additional air defense systems and troops to the Middle East to ensure the safety of U.S. military forces in the region. These measures involve the placement of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery and additional Patriot air defense battalions.
Secretary Austin emphasized, “I have placed an additional number of forces on prepare-to-deploy orders as part of prudent contingency planning to increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required. I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary.”
The additional air defense units being dispatched to the Middle East are expected to include personnel among the more than 2,000 U.S. military forces previously put on prepare-to-deploy orders. These forces encompass various specialties, including air defense, security, logistics, medical support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, transportation, and other capabilities.
As these developments unfold, the U.S. continues to monitor the situation closely and remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of its personnel and interests in the Middle East.