By Andrew Thornebrooke
Nine hundred service members are or will be deploying to the Middle East as the United States seeks to respond to attacks on its forces and to prevent the Israel-Hamas War from spiraling into a regional conflict.
Some of those troops were previously given prepare-to-deploy orders but others were not, according to Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.
“These include forces that have been on prepare-to-deploy orders and which are deploying from the continental United States,” Gen. Ryder said to reporters on Oct. 26.
“I can confirm that they are not going to Israel,” he added.
Gen. Ryder declined to specify where the U.S. troops would be sent but said that they would include air defense elements previously said to be deployed in order to deter further violence against Israel.
The announcement follows a series of 16 attacks on U.S. and Coalition troops by Iran-backed proxies in Iraq and Syria, as well as a missile launch in the Red Sea that appeared to threaten a U.S. Navy vessel.
USS Carney shot down four medium-range missiles launched from Yemen toward Israel. That attack, like the numerous ones on U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq, was carried out by an Iranian-backed group.
Attacks in Iraq and Syria have resulted in wounds to at least 21 American service members, including 19 who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. All service members have since returned to duty, Gen. Ryder said.
Suicide Drone Attack
The attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces were conducted with directed loitering munitions, commonly referred to as “suicide drones,” and rockets.
The Biden administration has sworn to respond to Iran, and Gen. Ryder said on Oct. 23 that the military would “take all necessary actions to defend U.S. and Coalition forces” from Iran.
Gen. Ryder softened his rhetoric on Oct. 26, saying he would not acknowledge if the Biden administration would respond to Iran at all.
“I’m not going to get into telegraphing whether we are or not going to respond, other than to say we would do so at a time and place of our choosing,” Gen. Ryder said.
“Of course, we hold Iran responsible for these groups.”
Gen. Ryder added that the number of Americans prepared to deploy to the Middle East would “continue to fluctuate” as the nation adapted to the realities on the ground in the region and sought to deter the Israel-Hamas War from developing into a more widespread conflict.