The Pentagon announced on Friday that they will be sending an additional 2,000 troops into Saudi Arabia despite an effort from President Trump to remove the United States from the region.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a group of reporters at the Pentagon on Friday that he will be sending over the troops and Patriot anti-air defense missile system.
“I have ordered the deployment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of two additional fighter squadrons and supporting personnel,” Esper said per Politico.
Politico reports the additional troops are being sent over “in response to Iranian provocations.”
The latest deployment, which includes two squadrons of fighter jets and three air-defense units, will bring to 3,000 the number of troops the U.S. has sent to Saudi Arabia since Iran attacked the kingdom’s oil infrastructure last month. “The evidence recovered so far proves that Iran is responsible for these attacks,” Esper said, noting that Germany, France and the United Kingdom have reached the same conclusion.
Trump has repeatedly pledged to pull U.S. forces back from overseas entanglements. “We want to bring our soldiers back home. These are endless wars,” he said Monday, in an apparent reference to the continuing U.S. troop commitments in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And yesterday, Trump falsely claimed that U.S. forces have been fully removed from Syria. Roughly 1,000 troops are deployed there.
Esper clarified that sending the additional troops are not an outlier or surprise incident as the United States has sent more than 14,000 troops to the Middle East since May of this year.
“Those earlier deployments included Air Force bombers, early-warning radar planes, drones, construction engineers to build up airbases, and warships,” Politico reports. “Some of the units deployed to existing U.S. bases in the region, while others, starting in July, reestablished an operational U.S. military presence at an airbase in Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon had pulled out of that airbase, leaving only an advisory presence in the kingdom, after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.”