As Americans prepare to relax for one of the first real weekends of fall, the US military was preparing something far more intense.
Less than one week after the Iranian military launched a stealthy and devastating attack on Saudi Arabian oil manufacturing facilities, the United States is planning to step up in a big way to help maintain the flow of crude from the Middle East out into the international economy.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announces U.S. forces will be sent to Saudi Arabia and UAE, calling them "defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense." Military equipment too. Dunford says numbers not decided yet, but will be a "moderate deployment."
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 20, 2019
Dunford says there will be a “moderate deployment” of troops sent to Saudi Arabia after oil strike but won’t say how many troops – says it won’t be thousands. US defense leaders say they don’t want war with Iran
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 20, 2019
These plans are still being fleshed out, according to Esper, but there are specific strategic nuances already in mind.
The deployment has three objectives, according to Esper: to help bolster Saudi and Emirati defenses, “ensure the free flow of commerce” in the Persian Gulf, and “protect and defend the international rules-based order” that Iran is supposedly defying.
Tehran has rejected the accusations of involvement in the September 14 attack, the responsibility for which was claimed by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Anonymous US officials have accused Iran of launching the attack from its territory, but neither Esper nor Dunford wanted to comment on that claim.
Esper maintained that the weapons used in the attack were “Iran-produced and not launched from Yemen,” but would not say more, except to note that Saudi Arabia was “still vulnerable to attack.”
Iran has been on the offensive as of late, launching several attacks against the Saudi Arabian oil industry over the course of the last few months.
This latest escalation was their most advanced attack yet, utilizing not only long range drones, but a bevy of ballistic missiles as well.