The U.S. military is quickly readying troop deployments to the Middle East as the possibility for full-scale war appears imminent.
Just a day after it was announced that the Pentagon put 2,000 troops on prepare-to-deploy orders to potentially travel in support of the U.S.’s longstanding ally Israel, military sources say thousands more will be going.
Two Defense Department officials now say that the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, which totals more than 4,000 sailors and Marines, will join a growing U.S. fleet off the coast of Israel, that will include two aircraft carriers and an assortment of other ships.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Washington Post, said the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is deployed with the amphibious task force and trained for a wide array of missions, including special operations.
While two carriers — the USS Bataan and the USS Carter Hall, which carry personnel for the unit — were in the Gulf of Oman on Oct. 16, the third ship connected with the unit, the USS Mesa Verde, is en route from the Mediterranean Sea to waters near the Israeli shore.
The 26th MEU is one of the nation’s premier crisis response forces and has recently completed a comprehensive, nine-month training program.
“We are ready to complete any mission before us, and we are looking forward to the opportunities we will have to work alongside our allies and partners in the months ahead,” Capt. Martin Robertson, commander of Amphibious Squadron 8, said in a July statement. “Our Sailors and Marines have trained hard and are ready. We are thankful for the support of our families and loved ones during this journey.”
No formal order to station off the coast of Israel has been given yet, as POLITICO reported, but the expectation is that order will come soon as the situation worsens and hundreds of American citizens remain trapped and held hostage by Hamas terrorists.
The Marines could be tasked with evacuating U.S. citizens from Israel, Gaza, or Lebanon, and can also provide medical assistance, two unnamed officials told POLITICO.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, “There is a risk of an escalation” of the conflict, though Biden is warning hostile countries like Iran to not escalate the conflict, as Reuters reported.
The increased military posture is meant to deter Iran, whose Foreign Minister warned days ago the country could not simply remain an observer if Israel continues the bombing campaign.
Reuters quoted Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian saying, “If the scope of the war expands, significant damages will also be inflicted upon America.”