The Pentagon has confirmed that United States commandos deployed to Israel are helping locate over 200 Israeli and American hostages that were captured by Hamas terrorists during the brutal terrorist attacks conducted against Israel on Oct. 7.
According to The New York Times, Assistant Secretary of Defense Christopher P. Maier, the Pentagon’s top special operations policy official, told a special operations conference in Washington, D.C., “We’re actively helping the Israelis to do a number of things.”
Maier noted that the main task of U.S. Special Operations forces in Israel is to help the Israeli Defense Forces identify the hostages being held by Hamas, including the American hostages. “It’s really our responsibility to do so,” he said.
While Maier did not reveal how many U.S. Special Operations forces are currently deployed in Israel, other U.S. officials told The New York Times that the Department of Defense has deployed several dozen U.S. commandos over the past several weeks. Additionally, a small team of U.S. Special Operations forces was already in Israel during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks due to previously scheduled training.
The anonymous U.S. officials who spoke to The New York Times claimed that the U.S. commandos would contribute to the discussions between Israeli authorities and the FBI, State Department, and other hostage-recovery specialists.
Although U.S. Special Operations forces are not currently assigned to combatant roles in Israel, the U.S. commandos are advising Israeli leadership on what Maier described as “what is going to be a very complex fight going forward” in Gaza.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has emphasized the importance of Israeli forces considering how they will execute a ground invasion in Gaza, especially as Hamas terrorists utilize a vast network of tunnels, many of which are located near civilians.
Following a recent conversation with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated, “Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant today to discuss Israel’s operations in Gaza.”
Ryder added, “The Secretary underscored the importance of protecting civilians during the Israel Defense Forces’ operations and focusing on the urgency of humanitarian aid delivery for civilians in Gaza. He also raised his focus on the need for Hamas to release all of the hostages.”