US Defence Secretary gives details of troop deployment to Saudi Arabia

The Pentagon is to deploy advanced anti-air missiles and radar equipment along with 200 troops, with further forces on standby

Mark Esper said he had approved the deployment of additional troops to bolster Saudi air defences. Reuters
Mark Esper said he had approved the deployment of additional troops to bolster Saudi air defences. Reuters

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper announced on Thursday that Washington would send more personnel and military equipment to Saudi Arabia after the attacks on Aramco.

Riyadh and Washington have accused Iran of carrying out the strikes, which temporarily halved Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

“In light of recent attacks on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and at their invitation, Secretary Esper announced today the US would deploy the following equipment to the kingdom,” the Pentagon said.

The list included “one Patriot missile battery, four sentinel radars and approximately 200 support personnel”.

The equipment is to boost Saudi’s “air and missile defence of critical military and civilian infrastructure” and “augments an already significant presence of US forces in the region” the Pentagon said.

Mr Esper approved having more force ready to be sent to Saudi if needed.

“While no decision has been made to deploy these additional forces, they will maintain a heightened state of readiness,” he said.

They include two more Patriot batteries and an anti-ballistic missile defence system, known as Thaad.

The Pentagon said the steps were a “demonstration of our commitment to regional partners, and the security and stability in the Middle East”.

Mr Esper urged other countries to contribute in an international effort to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s defence.

Shortly before the announcement, the US special representative on Iran, Brian Hook, said the US expected more European countries to join the US-led maritime coalition in the Gulf.

So far the US, Britain, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have signed up for it.

“There is a very important change in the European attitude towards Iran,” Mr Hook said after the statement from France, Germany and the UK this week holding Iran responsible for the attacks on Aramco, and calling for regional security to be part of any negotiations.

“Iran has committed an act of war against Saudi Arabia” Mr Hook said in New York.

He said the US would counter Tehran’s attempts to “establish an Iranian crescent” in the region.

Mr Hook expected more sanctions to be announced on Iran after no breakthrough was reached during the UN meetings.

Mr Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani left New York on Thursday, and the US announced a “presidential proclamation restricting entry into the US for senior Iranian government officials and members of their families”.

Published: September 27, 2019 01:49 AM


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