US to Deploy Air, Missile Defense Soldiers to Saudi Arabia

Patriot missiles, THAAD intended to defend Saudi oil facilities

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that it has approved the deployment of substantial air and missile defenses to Saudi Arabia to protect the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. This includes a Patriot missile battery, and radar systems.

This is only the beginning, as the initial deployment, according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, will also come with a “prepare to deploy” order for more missile batteries and a THAAD missile defense system.

These deployments come after Saudi oil refineries were damaged earlier this month in a drone attack. The Saudis are the third highest spender on their military worldwide, but their pricy defensive systems have so far proven unable to fend off the drones.

This must inevitably raise the question of whether US forces will do any better. The Saudis, after all, bought all the same costly US arms the American forces will have access to. US officials have been looking to spend more money on anti-drone technology specifically because they aren’t confident that existing, pricy US weapons really work.

The deployment of US troops with anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems to the Saudi coast on the Persian Gulf, however, might make more sense as a move to target Iran, something the US has been very keen to do in recent months. This may just be a continued US buildup with an eye toward an eventual war with Iran.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.