US to deploy more troops to West Asia as tensions with Iran rise
The United States on Monday despatched more troops to West Asia further boosting its military buildup to growing alarm about another war in the region as it also sought to urge Iran to abide by its commitments to the international community on uranium enrichment.
Acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement he was deploying 1,000 additional troops to the region “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats”.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said.
He was referring to the bombing of Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, which the US has alleged was done by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Shanahan’s statement came just hours after Iran announced that it would soon surpass limits set on its low-enriched uranium by the 2015 nuclear deal.
“I would say that we are unfortunately not surprised by the Iranian announcement,” state department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
“We call on the Iranians not to obtain a nuclear weapon and to abide by the commitments that they’ve made to the international community,” she said.
The additional personnel, mostly to be deployed in surveillance and intelligence roles, will join growing US presence in the region anchored around the recently deployed USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft strike group, a Patriot missile defence system, a variation of which has been offered to India, an amphibious ship for landing troops, B-52 bombers and 1,500 personnel.
Each aircraft strike group typically comprises an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a flotilla of between six and 10 destroyers and/or frigates, 65 to 70 aircraft, and roughly 7,500 personnel.
The United States has been building up military presence in the region citing intelligence that Iran has been planning attacks on American facilities in the region, and that of its allies.
President Donald Trump, who withdrew the US from the 2015 deal it had spearheaded under former president resident Barack Obama, wants a new deal with Iran. He has promised partisan supporters that this deal will force Iran to give up both its nuclear and ballistic missile programme in perpetuity, in contrast to the ten-year freeze mandated by the Obama-led plan.
He has said it will also force Iran to abandon its “malign activities” in the region, a phrase that has been used to describe terrorism and politically destabilising actions carried out by Iran in the region, either directly or through proxies.
Though Trump pulled the US out of that plan, his administration continues to cite it as a benchmark for Iran, and insist on its compliance.