The Pentagon announced last week that it was bolstering American forces across the Middle East as fighting between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues. The word also comes amid fears of the war expanding beyond Gaza, including a number of recent attacks on American and Israeli targets across the region.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the move as “part of prudent contingency planning, to increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required.”
The Pentagon announced the deployment of anti-missile batteries throughout the region.
The decision came after several attacks against U.S. forces deployed in the region. Rocket or drone attacks targeted American forces in Iraq and Syria. During one alert, an American contractor reportedly died of cardiac arrest.
In addition, an American destroyer shot down a number of missiles believed launched from Yemen. U.S. officials believe that the attack originated from Iran-supported Houthi rebels firing at Israel.
Overall, the USS Carney shot down 19 aircraft Thursday over the course of nine hours.
Austin referenced what he described as “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region.”
The Pentagon chief said that the deployments were intended to “bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region and assist in the defense of Israel.”
Thousands of U.S. military personnel have been shifted around the globe or told to prepare for deployment. https://t.co/KpxC4eyB4q
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The United States has also positioned a number of aircraft at bases across the Middle East. In addition, the navy has deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups near the coast of Israel.
Austin said that he would “continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary.”
Overall, at least 2,000 American troops were placed on heightened alert. It is unknown how many additional U.S. forces may be placed in such a status over the next week.
The conflict in Gaza continues, with a long-awaited ground invasion not being launched as of Sunday.
In addition, a Hamas-linked group released two American hostages Friday.