The United States will deploy additional troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia amid tensions with Iran in the region, the Department of Defense said on Friday, October 11.
At CENTCOM’s request, Esper approved the deployment of two fighter squadrons, an Air Expeditionary Wing, two Patriot air defense batteries and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) to the kingdom, the Pentagon said.
Taken together with other deployments this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month, and an increase of 14,000 forces to the CENTCOM area of operations since May.
Last month the Pentagon said it would send an additional 200 support personnel to Saudi Arabia to accompany a Patriot battery and four Sentinel radar systems.
Esper approved the additional batteries and THAAD system at the time, which came after coordinated projectiles struck two major Saudi crude oil processing plants in an economically damaging attack which the U.S. and Saudi officials have blamed on Iran.
In May, President Donald Trump approved a plan to deploy around 1,500 U.S. forces and a Patriot battalion to Saudi Arabia and the administration informed Congress that it was invoking a provision of the Arms Export Control Act that would eliminate Congressional review of the sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Raytheon’s Patriot is a mobile air and missile defense system designed to intercept aircraft, low-flying cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles, whereas the THAAD system, developed by Lockheed Martin, targets short- and medium-range ballistic missiles with hit-to-kill interceptor missiles. THAAD is interoperable with Patriot.