A quick reaction force of 2,000 US marines is deployed to the waters off the coast of Israel, ready to land to provide logistical and medical support.
Two US defense officials familiar with the situation said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the mobilization of a squad of marines to the area off the coast of Israel. The will mobilization increased the US military presence in the region days after Washington deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups and a series of fighter jets near Israel.
2,000 US Marines will act as a quick reaction force, ready to land on Israeli territory to provide medical and logistical support. US officials said that this move was intended to deter Iran and prevent the risk of the Israel-Hamas conflict from spreading, emphasizing that Washington has no plans to send soldiers to fight directly.
The Pentagon is also very careful when mentioning the possibility of sending US soldiers to Israel because President Joe Biden’s administration does not want to create the feeling that Washington is about to get involved in hostilities.
The rapid reaction force appears to have been mobilized from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which has conducted exercises near Kuwait recently. “They left earlier than planned because of new events,” said Captain Angelica White, a unit expanded.
US officials did not give a specific destination for Unit 26, but one said they were heading to Israel’s southern coast. The unit travels aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, supported by the amphibious dock ship USS Carter Hall.
Unnamed officials said that Secretary Austin’s order does not mean the US will deploy troops to Israel. “This decision is intended to increase readiness and shorten preparation time for soldiers when a mobilization order is issued,” one person said.
Tensions in the Middle East are rising after Hamas launched a large-scale attack on Israel on October 7. Israel then blocked the Gaza Strip, launching raids and local attacks targeting the area. The Israeli army is gathering forces to launch a ground campaign to attack the Gaza Strip.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on October 16 warned that armed groups pro-Tehran could “take pre-emptive action” to prevent Israel from attacking the Gaza Strip.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the country “commits its steadfast support to Israel’s right to self-defense against the actions of Hamas, reaffirming its determination to provide the Israeli government with what it needs to protect its citizens.” . Washington sent ammunition and weapons to Tel Aviv and warned foreign countries not to seek to escalate the war.