The Pentagon announced plans to deploy 1,500 more troops to Saudi Arabia on Friday, including two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing, two Patriot missile batteries, and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. This decision comes shortly after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Northern Syria, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle due to Turkey’s now ongoing offensive campaign against American’s Kurdish allies in the region.
Among other reasons, President Trump justified the removal of between 50 and 100 troops from Northern Syria as part of his campaign promise to end America’s “Forever Wars,” which is a phrase commonly used to describe America’s near two-decade combat presence in the Middle East.
The removed troops, however, will not be coming home, according to further statements made by White House officials — and 1,500 more are now expected to be headed to the war-torn Middle East to defend against Iranian aggression.
“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,” Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathon Hoffman said in a statement Friday. “Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month.”
This new deployment is motivated in part by issues with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, which was supposed to deploy to the region as a stabilizing force recently but has been unable to due to an issue with its electrical distribution systems. The carrier that’s currently operating in the region, the USS Abraham Lincoln, is expected to see its deployment come to a close later this year. The pressing need for additional security in the region comes following an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities that took place on September 14. Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have blamed that attack on Iran.
“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,” Chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan 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.”