Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin placed additional U.S. troops on prepare-to-deploy orders to the Middle East Sunday after speaking with President Joe Biden.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The number of forces put on prepare-to-deploy orders was not specified, but the Pentagon has previously confirmed the number was roughly 2,000. Some troops would come from the U.S. and some from within Europe or other areas of operation.
Austin said he has also activated the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as well as additional Patriot battalions to locations throughout the region to increase protection for U.S. forces.
Iranian proxy forces have recently launched attacks against U.S. facilities in Iraq, Syria, and fired rockets from Yemen, which were shot down by a U.S. guided missile destroyer.
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Austin also said in his statement the decision came after detailed discussions with Biden on “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region.”
He said the steps were to “bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel.”
The Pentagon has also previously indicated the troops would not be engaged in fighting, and Israel has also said it has not requested U.S. troops to fight.
The move follows the deployment of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to the Middle East, as well as deploying the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary,” Austin said.
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