- Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
- In response to an attack on Saudi oil facilities – an attack the US argues appears to have been perpetrated by Iran – the US is sending additional US forces to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff revealed Friday evening.
- Gen. Joseph Dunford and Defense Secretary Mark Esper characterized the move as a “moderate deployment” to bolster the defensive capabilities of US regional partners in the face of continued aggression from Iran and its proxies.
- The latest move will follow the deployment of significant strategic military assets this past summer to deter Iranian aggression.
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The United States will send additional troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to beef up security, following last weekend’s attack on oil fields in Saudi Arabia.
In a Friday evening press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford announced that “all indications are that Iran was responsible for the attacks.” They explained that the US is responding with a “moderate deployment” of additional forces.
Dunford said that it was “fair to say” this deployment would not involve thousands of troops.
“We haven’t decided on specific units,” the general told reporters. He explained that the US is providing capabilities to enhance air and missile defense.
Last Saturday, Saudi oil facilities were struck by drones and missiles in an attack that the US has blamed on Iran, a country that has also been blamed in recent months for mining oil tankers, pirating vessels, and shooting down unmanned aircraft, among other hostile behavior.
“Iran has increased its military activity through direct attacks and support to its proxies in the region,” the secretary said Friday evening. The US has already ratcheted up sanctions against Iran, but now the US is strengthening its military posture.
The lastest troop increase follows the significant deployment this summer of strategic military assets to deter troubling Iranian behavior. Among the assets sent to the region were a carrier strike group, bomber and fighter squadrons, air defense systems, and ground troops.
While this past summer was characterized by a series of crises, one of which nearly brought the US and Iran into armed conflict, tensions have not been running as hot in recent weeks.
But, the attack on Saudi oil facilities shook global energy markets, and in the aftermath, the president tweeted that the US was “locked and loaded” to respond.
For now, the US will focus its efforts on bolstering the defenses of its regional partners rather than striking Iran, but Trump has indicated that this possibility remains on the table.