US Military Has Choking Presence in the Middle East
The US military already has 40,000 – 60,000 soldiers, under the US Central Command, in the Middle East region and now more than 2,000 troops have been put on ready-to-deploy orders by the Defense Ministry. This is a “show of support” for Israel which has been battling Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, since October 7.
The fresh deployment comes after the US saw an increase in drone and missile strikes on its military bases in the region. Already equipped with 18 ships and three guided-missile destroyers in the Middle East, the US military brought in two aircraft carriers and support ships with 2,000 Marine Corps personnel.
But this seems to be less given Hamas roping in Lebanon-based Hezbollah into its war against Israel. The Pentagon deployed additional fighter aircraft, and missile defense systems, as well as a Thaad battery and additional Patriot battalions, to deter Iran from attacking. The US military claims this is in response to so-called escalations from Iran and its allies who have threatened a “broader war in the region”.
US Military Presence Spread Out
US CENTCOM has spread out its troops throughout the Middle East, from Egypt to Jordan, to Syria and Saudi Arabia, to Iraq and Turkey. According to the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies and Research in Kuwait, the US has about 10,000 American soldiers.
Around 1,400 are stationed permanently. The rest are a temporary but distributed in conflict zones. The numbers are adjusted as per the circumstances and risks. The US deployed massive number of troops to Iraq and Syria to tackle the ISIS, but currently there are just 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and only 900 in Syria.
Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, which is strategically located near several potential conflict areas, is a crucial base for the US and NATO.
Other countries like Russia, France, and the UK also have military presence in the Middle East.
US Military Has Eyes on Iran
Despite having no evidence of Iran’s involvement in the current escalating war between Israel and Hamas, US’s Defense Department says recent targeting on their American soldiers had Iranian fingerprints all over.
A senior defense official highlighted Iran’s funding, equipping, guidance and direction to partners and proxies across the Middle East. “That includes Lebanese Hezbollah, militia groups in Iraq and Syria, as well as the Houthis in Yemen. So I think it’s fair to say when you see this uptick in activity and attacks by many of these groups, there’s Iranian fingerprints all over it.” Brig. General Pat Ryder said the US is posturing additional forces to send a clear message that Washington will protect its forces. He added that they will ultimately hold Iran responsible for the attacks in Iraq and Syria.