U.S. to send troops to Saudi Arabia
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Friday announced it will deploy additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as President Donald Trump has at least for now put off any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Pentagon reporters this is a first step to beef up security and he would not rule out additional moves down the road. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but it would not involve thousands of U.S. troops.
Other officials said the U.S. deployment would likely be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.
The announcement reflected Trump’s comments earlier in the day when he told reporters that showing restraint “shows far more strength” than launching military strikes and he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran.
Instead, he laid out new sanctions on the Iranian central bank and said the easiest thing to do would be to launch military strikes.
“I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Much easier to do it the other way, and Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.”
Dunford told reporters the extra equipment and troops would give the Saudis a better chance of defending against unconventional aerial attacks.
“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that,” he said, “but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday.