The United States is moving to strengthen its military posture in the Middle East in response to “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces” across the region.
This includes the activation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and additional Patriot air defense missile system battalions, according to a Pentagon statement on Saturday.
“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 Defense posture in the region,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced.
Austin also said that he is placing additional troops in the region, without specifying how many. The United States has already put 2,000 troops on heightened alert state for quick deployment to the Middle East.
“These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel,” said Austin.
There has been an increase in attacks against U.S. positions in the Middle East following Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel. The Pentagon said on Thursday that it had shot down missiles from Yemen that may have been headed to Israel. The incident came days after drone attacks against U.S. facilities in Iraq and Syria.
Following the Oct. 7 terrorist rampage in southern Israel, the United States positioned two carrier strike groups in the eastern Mediterranean to deter other Iranian terror proxies, such as Hezbollah, from trying to take advantage of the situation. The United States has also been supplying Israel with military supplies and equipment.
Austin again spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant before announcing the activation of additional air defense systems.
“The secretary thanked Minister Gallant for Israel’s role in facilitating the October 21 humanitarian convoy into Gaza and reiterated the importance of protecting civilians,” according to a statement from the Pentagon.
“The two leaders also discussed the continued provision of security assistance and the U.S. commitment to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war.”