US Sends More Air Defenses to Middle East as Escalation Risk Rises

A US base in Iraq came under attack again on Sunday

On Saturday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the US was sending more air defense systems to the Middle East as US forces in the region are coming under attack due to President Biden’s backing of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.

Austin blamed the escalations on Iran, although there’s no sign Iran plans to get directly involved in the fighting. “Following detailed discussions with President Biden on recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region, today I directed a series of additional steps to further strengthen the Department of Defense posture in the region,” he said.

Austin said he had “activated the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as well as additional Patriot battalions to locations throughout the region to increase force protection for US forces.”

He also placed “an additional number of forces on prepare to deploy orders.” Earlier reports said the Pentagon ordered 2,000 troops to be prepared to deploy to the region to support Israel, although they are not expected to serve in combat roles.

Austin’s statement on Saturday came after US bases in Syria and Iraq came under attack, with only minor injuries reported. Reuters reported that the Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq, which hosts US troops, came under a drone attack on Saturday and a rocket attack on Sunday.

Both Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said the US is ready to respond to further attacks on US forces. “We don’t want to see our forces or our personnel come under fire. But if that happens, we’re ready for it,” Blinken said.

The US has also intercepted missiles in the Red Sea that were fired from Yemen and likely targeted at Israel. According to Task and Purpose, the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney spent nine hours downing 15 drones and four cruise missiles fired from Yemen, a far larger engagement than the Pentagon initially reported.

The Pentagon said the missiles and drones fired from Yemen were launched by the Houthis. The US has not attributed blame for the attacks on US bases in Syria and Iraq, although some lesser-known Shia militias have taken credit.

The steps Austin announced on Saturday are in addition to other US deployments to the region to support Israel, which includes two aircraft carrier strike groups, two amphibious vessels carrying thousands of Marines, and additional fighter jets. The implication is that the US will intervene directly if Hezbollah opens a northern front for Israel. While Hezbollah has not launched a major cross-border attack, skirmishes between Israel and the Shia group on the Lebanon-Israel border continue to escalate.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.