Why exactly is America sending more troops to Saudi Arabia? At the same time President Trump is pulling forces back from Syria, the Pentagon is increasing them in Saudi Arabia. Three new anti-missile systems and 2,000 troops are headed to the peninsula as a reaction to recent drone and cruise missile strikes on oil fields. It’s hard to see how these forces will face such strikes with any more success than those already there. Gordon Lubold and Nancy A. Youssef report in The Wall Street Journal:
The Pentagon said it would deploy two Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries as well as a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, or Thaad, which provides broader air defenses against the ballistic missile threat for much of the region, officials said.
The additional 2,000 troops will join approximately 700 service members that had been deployed in previous rounds, including some to Prince Sultan Air Base, about 80 miles southeast of Riyadh.
In addition to the troops, missile batteries and jet fighters, the Pentagon said it was deploying an air expeditionary wing, which can conduct both offensive and defensive air missions.
During a Pentagon press briefing Friday, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the additional U.S. deployment as a defensive move intended to re-establish deterrence in the Gulf. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the deployment was a message to the Iranians: “Do not strike another sovereign state. Do not threaten American interests and American forces, or we will respond.”
The U.S. deployments began in July, in the wake of a string of tanker seizures and attacks, and accelerated after U.S., Saudi Arabia and allies accused Iran of airstrikes Sept. 14 against Saudi oil facilities.
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