Written by Zachary Halaschak | June 17, 2019 08:22 PM
The U.S. is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East amid increasing tension between the U.S. and Iran. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the additional forces in a statement Monday evening, saying that the increase came at the urging of U.S. military leaders in the Middle East.
“In response to a request from the US Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” Shanahan said in a statement.
“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,” Shanahan said.
“We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats,” he added.
A pair of oil tankers were attacked earlier this month in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. and the U.K. have placed blame for the attack on Iran. The move came just hours before Iran reportedly fired a surface-to-air missile at a U.S. drone. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the tanker attacks on the “maximum pressure campaign” that the U.S. is waging against the Iranian regime, targeting its financial industry.
“Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted,” Pompeo told reporters last week. “The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians.”
Last month, four other tankers were targeted by Iran in what Pompeo described as an Iranian attempt to inflate international oil prices.
The U.S. also recently deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.