The United States has increased its military presence in the Middle East during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the Pentagon. Additional air defense systems, including Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries and Patriot battalions, have been sent to undisclosed locations in the region to enhance the protection of US forces. The THAAD systems have an operational range of approximately 200km and are designed to intercept various types of missiles. The Patriots, which have recently been employed in Ukraine, have a range of up to 160km and can target missiles, drones, and warplanes.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that this decision was made following thorough discussions with US President Joe Biden regarding recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East. The deployment aims to support Israel, and Austin additionally ordered a number of US forces to be prepared for deployment as part of contingency planning.
In the wake of the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas, the US deployed two aircraft carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with support ships to the region. CNN reported earlier this week that the Pentagon also dispatched 2,000 Marines and sailors to the waters off Israel’s coast as a deterrent message to Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
On Thursday, the Pentagon disclosed that its destroyer deployed in the Red Sea had successfully intercepted three missiles and several drones launched by Houthi rebels from Yemen. Although the intended target of the attack remains unknown, the Pentagon did not rule out the possibility that Israeli facilities were being targeted.
While Biden has expressed support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas, he has emphasized that he does not believe it is necessary to deploy American troops to the region for combat. In the midst of the violence in the Middle East, Biden has also issued a caution to Iran to be cautious. Tehran, in response, has stated that it will not engage in hostilities unless provoked by an attack on its interests and nationals.
The increased military presence in the Middle East underscores the US commitment to the security and stability of the region. By deploying additional air defense systems and maintaining a strong naval presence, the US aims to deter any potential threats and protect its forces in the region. The situation remains tense, but the US is working to de-escalate tensions and support its allies in the region, particularly Israel, during this conflict.