The headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, Pentagon announced on October 11 that the country will deploy more forces in Saudi Arabia following Riyadh's request for reinforcements after the September 14 drone-and-missile attack on Aramco oil plants. The announcement was made by Defense Secretary Mark Esper who said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops from September 2019. Tensions aggravated as Iran reportedly claimed that two missiles have attacked an Iranian oil tanker off the Jeddah coast. It is still unclear whether the attacks were made by Saudi Arabia or US troops. US defense officials said to the media that they are investigating the matter. America’s Middle East policies struggle to align Trump’s desire to pull troops out of the region with what have been persistent threats from Iran and a volatile military operation against Islamic State militants in Syria.
“Saudi Arabia is a longstanding security partner in the Middle East and has asked for additional support to supplement their own defense and defend the international rules-based order,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon.
Esper said the decision followed discussions with the Saudi minister of defense. The same was reiterated by Brian Hook, the special U.S. envoy for Iran, who told reporters at the State Department that the decision to send additional forces to Saudi Arabia had been arrived at after weeks of consultations with Saudi officials and others in the region, including in meetings in Washington with Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister. The envoy dismissed the questions on Trump's previous motive to remove forces from the middle east. He clarified that the deployment in Saudi Arabia was rather defensive. It has an intrinsic motive to send a message to Iran to end the war, he added.
The deployments, Hook said, were intended to 're-establish deterrence in the region.' "This is an investment in regional security. This administration does not seek conflict with Iran, but we have been equally clear to the regime that we will defend our citizens, forces and interests, including against attack by Iran or its proxies,” he said.
US will deploy two fighter jet squadrons, a unit of other support aircraft, two Patriot missile batteries and one anti-missile defense system known as THAAD. About 1,800 service members will also be deployed. In early October, the US sent one fighter jet squadron, which usually includes between 18 and 24 aircraft, cited US officials. In September, America sent one Patriot missile battery and four ground-based radar systems, with about 200 troops. This amounts to a total of 3,000 troops and they are in addition to a broad array of ships and other military support that was sent earlier this year to counter Iranian threats against allied and commercial ships in the Persian Gulf region. By now about 14,000 additional US troops have been deployed in the Gulf since May.