Pentagon Is Doubling U.S. Military Presence in Middle East to Deter Further Attacks on American Interests

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

The Pentagon is expanding the U.S. military presence in the Middle East as the war between Israel and Hamas continues. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that he is deploying another warship to the region to deter future attacks against American interests.

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This development comes a week after the U.S. deployed a cadre of warships to the Mediterranean Sea in a show of support to Israel.

The Pentagon is rapidly doubling the amount of American firepower deployed in the Middle East in an effort to deter a wider regional war and to carry out possible airstrikes to defend American interests, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement on Saturday night that he had ordered a second aircraft carrier, the Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the eastern Mediterranean to join the carrier Gerald R. Ford “to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war” after Hamas’s attack on Israel last weekend. The Eisenhower is expected to arrive in the next few days.

The Air Force is also rushing additional land-based attack planes to the Persian Gulf region, doubling the number of F-16, A-10 and F-15E squadrons on the ground. Combined with the four squadrons of F/A-18 jets aboard each carrier, the United States will have an aerial armada of more than 100 attack planes, officials said.

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The doubling of America’s military presence in the Middle East is intended to send a message to Iran, Syria, and terrorist groups like Hezbollah after recent attacks against military personnel. So far, 29 Americans have been killed during the fighting between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas, which launched a surprise attack against the Jewish state on October 7.

While there are currently no plans to deploy ground troops to participate in the conflict, lawmakers have suggested that the U.S. could play a critical role in aiding Israel’s war effort.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) highlighted the importance of intel when discussing ways the U.S. could provide assistance to Israel:

While Washington isn’t planning to have boots on the ground in Israel, the American military does have a major role to play there, according to the first group of U.S. lawmakers to visit the country since the Hamas attacks.

U.S. “intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing” could be “extremely important” to Israel locating and freeing hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, said Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, the top Republican on SASC’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities panel, who just returned from leading a congressional delegation to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Additionally, the Pentagon is sending military aid to Jerusalem, including Iron Dome interceptors to bolster the country’s ability to defend against rocket attacks launched by Hamas and Hezbollah.

As tensions between Israel and her enemies continue to escalate, the Pentagon’s expansion of the military presence is intended to reaffirm Washington’s commitment to ensuring the safety of Israelis. As the situation on the ground continues to develop, it is possible that America’s role in the war could expand even further – especially if Iran, through Hezbollah, decides to ramp up its efforts against Israel.

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