U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has authorized the deployment of approximately 1,000 additional troops to Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran.
The deployment is in response to a request from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House.
The additional troops are “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East”, according to a U.S. Department of Defense statement.
The tensions between Iran and US has increased over the past week following the suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blamed Iran for the “unprovoked attacks” but Iran dismissed the claim as “unfounded”.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region”, the U.S. DoD statement said.
“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests. We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats”, the statement added.