U.S. efforts in the Middle East remain focused on supporting Israel’s defense needs as the nation battles Hamas terrorists in Gaza, deterring other actors who seek to use the Hamas war on Israel as a pretext to expand the conflict and to ensure force protection for U.S. forces serving in the region, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday.
Approximately 900 U.S. troops are in the process of deploying to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, Ryder said.
These include forces that had previously been put on prepare-to-deploy status, and they are deploying from the continental United States.
Deployed and deploying units include a terminal high-altitude area defense battery from Fort Bliss, Texas; Patriot batteries from Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Patriot and Avenger batteries from Fort Liberty, North Carolina and associated air defense headquarters elements from Fort Bliss and Fort Cavazos, Texas.
“I won’t talk specific deployment locations for these forces, I can confirm that they are not going to Israel,” Ryder said. The units and personnel are intended to support regional deterrence efforts and further bolster U.S. force protection capabilities.
Ryder said that between Oct. 17 and 26, U.S. and coalition forces have been attacked at least 12 separate times in Iraq and four separate times in Syria, by a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets. The general would not provide specific groups that have claimed responsibility for these attacks. All he would say is, “We know that these groups are affiliated with Iran.”
Ryder said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III continued his near-daily calls to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. He received updates on Israeli operations and Israeli military needs. “During the discussion, Secretary Austin reiterated the importance of ensuring humanitarian aid can be delivered into Gaza and repeated our calls for Israel to ensure the protection of civilians,” the general said.
Ryder confirmed that the United States is sending two U.S. Iron Dome systems to Israel to help further bolster air defense capabilities and protect citizens from rocket attacks.
Israel is not the only hotspot in the world, and Ryder said the United States is sending a $150 million package of military aid to support Ukraine’s urgent security needs. “This marks the 49th provision of equipment from DOD inventories to Ukraine since August 2021,” he said. “This crucial security assistance includes air defense capabilities, artillery, ammunition, anti-tank weapons and other important aid to help Ukraine counter Russia’s ongoing aggression and continue its fight for independence and freedom.”
Feature photo by Sandhills Sentinel photographer Wendy Hodges.
~Written by Jim Garamone.