Washington: Amid simmering tensions between Washington and Tehran in recent weeks, United States President Donald Trump on Friday said that his country will deploy about 1500 additional troops to the Middle East as a “protective measure”.
“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops,” Trump told reporters at the White House here, as cited by Xinhua. “We’ll see what happens.”
Taking to Twitter shortly after the development, US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan deemed the move a “prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” while announcing that the Pentagon has informed Congress about the deployment.
“The @DeptofDefense has informed Congress I approved the combatant commander’s request to deploy approximately 1,500 additional troops & defensive capabilities to the @CENTCOM area to increase our force protection posture. This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran”
In a press briefing on Friday afternoon, Pentagon officials said that about 600 troops have already arrived in the region with the Patriot battery, a defence system designed to track and destroy incoming missiles, while the remaining 900 troops will be deployed to mainly operate intelligence surveillance radar and drones.
In response, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said that the additional deployment of military forces by the US in the region does not intimidate the country.
The move has come hours after the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo confirmed the approval of USD 8.1 billion in arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates amid hostilities with Iran. The equipment includes aircraft support maintenance; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; munitions and other supplies, reported Sputnik.
“Today, acting in accordance with the authority granted to us by Congress, I made a determination under the Arms Export Control Act to formally notify Congress of 22 arms sales to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. These directly protect US citizens and our partners,” Pompeo wrote on his official Twitter handle on Friday.
“We presented some of these sales almost 18 months ago to Congress, but it has failed to act. The US is and must remain, a reliable security partner in the Gulf and to our allies around the world. It’s fundamental to our national security,” he added.
US military is increasing its presence in the Middle East. Recently, the country deployed carrier strike warships and B-52 bombers off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates to counter an alleged and unexplained threat from Iran.