NEW: ‘Prepare to Deploy’

( – In an urgent move to increase support for a key U.S. ally, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided to enhance U.S. military readiness in the Middle East.

Austin announced, “I have placed an additional number of forces on prepare to deploy orders as part of prudent contingency planning, to increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required.”

Although the exact number of troops placed on standby wasn’t mentioned in the statement, previous information from the Pentagon suggests that it’s around 2,000 troops. The source of these troops will be diverse, coming from the U.S., Europe, and other operational zones.

To further reinforce the U.S. military presence and capability in the region, Austin confirmed the activation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery. Additionally, more Patriot battalions will be placed at various strategic locations to enhance the protection of U.S. troops stationed there.

This decision to bolster defense comes in light of recent activities by Iranian proxy forces. They have initiated attacks on U.S. establishments in Iraq and Syria and launched rocket attacks from Yemen. Fortunately, the rockets from Yemen were successfully intercepted and destroyed by a U.S. missile destroyer.

Austin shed light on the motivations behind these defense preparations, stating that they were in response to “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region.” The core objectives of these moves are threefold: enhancing regional deterrence, increasing the protection for U.S. troops in the region, and aiding in Israel’s defense.

However, both the Pentagon and Israel have clarified that this troop positioning doesn’t mean direct combat. The Pentagon emphasized that the troops aren’t meant for direct combat roles, and Israel confirmed it hasn’t requested combat assistance from U.S. troops.

This strategic decision is part of a larger pattern of increasing U.S. military presence in the region. For instance, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was recently sent to the Middle East, and the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group was dispatched to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Emphasizing the flexibility of U.S. strategy and commitment to maintaining regional stability, Austin concluded, “I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary.”