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Up to 1,800 troops, 2 fighter squadrons and more deploying to Saudi Arabia

President Donald J. Trump watches as new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivers remarks Tuesday, July 23, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
October 11, 2019

Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced a new deployment of U.S. forces and equipment to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

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Esper said that Saudi Arabia has requested additional U.S. support to “supplement their own defenses and defend the international rules-based order.”

“In response to continued threats in the region, I’ve ordered the deployment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of two additional fighter squadrons and supporting personnel, along with additional Patriot and THAAD air and missile defense batteries,” Esper said.

Defense officials told CNN the deployment will include 1,500 U.S. forces and is because the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier is unable to be deployed to the region due to a broken electrical system.

A defense official told Bloomberg ahead of the announcement that this deployment includes as many as 1,800 U.S. personnel.

A Defense Department statement notes that the deployment will include one Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) among the supporting personnel.

Esper noted that this deployment, in addition to others extended or authorized in the last month, “involves about 3,000 United States forces.”

A previous deployment to Saudi Arabia announced Sept. 26 included one Patriot battery, four Sentinel RADARs, and 200 U.S. forces.

“In fact, in response to Iranian provocations since May, the U.S. has deployed an array of additional capabilities to the region, including airborne early warning aircraft squadrons, maritime patrol aircraft squadrons, Patriot air and missile defense batteries, B-52 bombers, a carrier strike group, amphibious transport dock, unmanned aircraft, and engineering and support personnel,” Esper explained on Friday.

“This has involved the deployment of about 14,000 additional U.S. forces to the region,” he added.

Esper said the military has other units in all four branches on alert for additional deployments to the region.

“The United States remains committed to protecting our allies ensuring the free flow of resources needed to support the global economy, and demonstrating our commitment to upholding the rules-based international order,” Esper said.