The Pentagon has quietly surged combat troops and warships in U.S. bases throughout the Middle East after the top American commander in the region warned that he needed additional forces to counter rising potential threats, including Iran.
Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, got approval from the Obama administration for the surge just after talks with Baghdad broke down over keeping a large U.S. occupation force in Iraq. But the extent of the build-up is only now becoming clear.
Earlier this week, the U.S. sent a second aircraft carrier strike group into the Persian Gulf,partly in response to recent Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, where one-fifth of the world’s oil shipments passes. Those threats themselves were issued in response to aggressive military build-up, crippling economic sanctions, and covert war coming from the U.S. and its allies.
Additionally, the status approximately 15,000 U.S. troops in Kuwait is currently being negotiated. The Kuwaiti defense minister was previously quoted as saying the number of troops would decrease. But now that seems unlikely, with new talks taking place over having Kuwait host a large enough number of troops to respond to potential regional war and other “threats.”
The U.S. primarily maintains troops and military bases throughout the Middle East in order to control the flow of the region’s oil resources and prevent any other state from gaining regional military power that would challenge that of America. But surges such as this one do more to destabilize and threaten war than act as a bulwark against it.