US sending more air defence systems to Middle East: defence secretary
As tensions rise, US deploys advanced THAAD system and Patriot battalions in West Asia to enhance regional defence and protect US interests
The US has decided to send a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system as well as additional Patriot battalions to West Asia to increase its force posture there following recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the region, defence secretary Lloyd Austin said.
These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for US forces in the region, and assist in the defence of Israel, he said.
“Following detailed discussions with President Joe 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 Defence posture in the region,” Austin said.
The US is on alert for activity by Iran-backed groups amidst escalating tension in West Asia, as the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict threatens to spill over to other parts of the region.
“First, I redirected the movement of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to the Central Command area of responsibility. 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,” Austin said.
It will further increase America’s force posture and strengthen our capabilities and ability to respond to a range of contingencies.
The US 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 force protection for US forces, he added.
The Patriot is considered one of the most advanced US air defence systems. The THAAD is a highly effective, combat-proven defence against short, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.
US forces in the region come under repeated drone attacks in Iraq and Syria since the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza broke out on 7 October.
Finally, Austin said he has placed an additional number of forces to prepare to deploy orders as part of prudent contingency planning, to increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required.
He, however, did not mention the number of troops.
“I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary,” he said.