US Redirects Navy Carrier Strike Group, Deploys High Altitude Defense Missile System and Patriot Battalions to the Middle East Amid Escalations by Iran in the Israel-Hamas War

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The U.S. is increasing its military presence in the Middle East amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

In a Saturday statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said new steps are being taken to increase the protection of US forces in the region and aid in the defense of Israel following “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces.”

While representatives of the US Department of Defense declined to answer questions from Insider about the specific actions by Iran that triggered the move, the announcement of new mobilization comes after Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group based in Lebanon, took responsibility on Wednesday for seven attacks directed at Israeli territory.

The Jerusalem Post reported the attacks included firing on soldiers and surveillance equipment and anti-tank missile strikes. In response, the outlet reported, the Israel Defense Forces said it launched counter-strikes on several Hezbollah targets near the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Though President Joe Biden last week said he didn’t believe it necessary to deploy US troops into Israel — one of the country’s closest allies — Insider previously reported Israel’s national security advisor indicated the US might become more “involved” in the Gaza war if it escalated to the point where Iran and Hezbollah joined.

Austin on Saturday said he’d ordered the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to be redirected to the Central Command area of responsibility, a region CENTCOM says is “among the least secure and stable places of the world.” The Eisenhower strike group is mobilized in addition to the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

“I have also activated the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as well as additional Patriot battalions to locations throughout the region to increase force protection for US forces,” Austin’s statement continued. The THAAD is a Lockheed Martin anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to intercept targets inside and outside the atmosphere, per the manufacturer.

In addition to the missile systems, Austin indicated additional US troops have been given prepare-to-deploy orders as part of “prudent contingency planning.” The Pentagon has already alerted more than 2,000 troops to prepare for deployment, Insider previously reported.

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