More US troops, equipment headed to Middle East amid Iranian threats

by Vern Evans

The Defense Department is moving extra troops and equipment to sites in the Middle East amid reports of a potential attack by Iran on Israel, officials confirmed on Friday.

A defense official said the deployments are designed to “bolster regional deterrence efforts and increase force protection for U.S. forces.” The department did not release any information on the number of troops involved or the assets being directed to the area.

Earlier in the day, White House national security spokesman John Kirby similarly declined to give specifics about U.S. military posture changes in the region but said that administration officials are monitoring the situation closely.

“We have deemed the potential threat by Iran here to be real, to be viable,” he said. “Right now our focus is on having conversations with our Israeli counterparts to make sure that they have what they need and that they’re able to defend themselves.”

Kirby said that work includes making sure U.S. troops in the region are “properly prepared” if an attack occurs.

The U.S. has about 40,000 military personnel deployed throughout the Middle East right now. About 1,000 more are headed to the area to help construct a floating pier off the coast of Gaza to help with the delivery of humanitarian aid there.

In January, three U.S. soldiers were killed and 40 others injured when a drone controlled by Iran-backed militants struck their base in Jordan.

The potential Iranian action comes almost two weeks after a suspected Israeli military strike on an Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus. The attack killed several Iranian military leaders in Syria as well as key Hezbollah leaders.

On Friday, in response to reporters’ questions about the possibility of Iranian military action, President Joe Biden said that the United States is “devoted to the defense of Israel” and reiterated that “we will support Israel and help defend Israel, and Iran will not succeed.”

Reporter Noah Robertson contributed to this report.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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