The Pentagon announced on Friday that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has approved more U.S. troops and equipment to be sent to Saudi Arabia to deter Iranian aggression in the region.
Personnel and equipment being deployed to Saudi Arabia include:
- Two fighter squadrons
- One Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW)
- Two Patriot Batteries
- One Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD)
"Secretary Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammad bin Salman this morning of the additional troop deployment to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia," said Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman. "Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month."
"Since May, the Department of Defense has increased the number of forces by approximately 14,000 to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as an investment into regional security," Hoffman said. "As we have stated, the United States does not seek conflict with the Iranian regime, but we will retain a robust military capability in the region that is ready to respond to any crisis and will defend U.S. forces and interest in the region."
The increase in troops deploying to the region comes after the United States and other allies have said evidence point to Iran being behind the attack on Saudi oil fields in September.
Houthi rebels in Yemen said they were behind the attack, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was no evidence the strikes came from Yemen, but instead they came from Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal.