In a rapid escalation of efforts to deter a wider regional conflict and safeguard American interests, the Pentagon is significantly increasing the deployment of U.S. firepower in the Middle East, according to U.S. officials on Sunday.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III announced on Saturday that a second aircraft carrier, the Dwight D. Eisenhower, has been ordered to the eastern Mediterranean to counter potential threats to Israel following last weekend's attack by Hamas. The Pentagon aims to prevent the conflict from escalating further and is preparing for possible airstrikes to protect American interests.
The Air Force is reinforcing its presence in the Persian Gulf region by doubling the number of F-16, A-10, and F-15E squadrons on the ground. With four squadrons of F/A-18 jets aboard each carrier, the U.S. is set to deploy an aerial armada of over 100 attack planes.
In addition to these measures, a small team of Special Operations forces has been sent to Israel to assist with intelligence and planning, particularly concerning the reported 150 hostages, including Americans.
With Israeli troops massing near the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion, there is apprehension among American commanders that the U.S. could be drawn into the conflict.
Pentagon and U.S. intelligence officials are closely monitoring Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, as well as militias in Iraq and Syria, heightening the need for vigilance. The Biden administration's deployment of additional forces aims to deter potential adversaries, signaling a commitment to regional security, despite recent tensions between President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the latter's judicial reforms.
This reinforcement of military might in the region, even if temporary, contrasts with the trend of reducing U.S. military presence in response to the concluding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Biden administration's broader strategic focus on long-term threats from China and ongoing concerns in Ukraine has shaped the recent shifts in U.S. military deployments.