The United States announced the deployment of additional American military forces to Saudi Arabia on Friday to bolster the kingdom’s defenses after the Sept. 14 attack on its oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran. The large deployment includes fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing and air defense personnel, the Pentagon said. Together with the 200 forces to Saudi Arabia announced last month, the deployment totaled about 3,000 troops, it said.
In a bid to better shield Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon said it was sending two additional Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD). U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters the deployments were designed to deter Iran.
“We thought it was important to continue to deploy forces to deter and defend and to send the message to the Iranians: Do not strike another sovereign state, do not threaten American interests, American forces, or we will respond,” Esper told reporters during a press briefing.
Trump said the United States would not bear the expense of the deployment. “Saudi Arabia, at my request, has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing,” he told reporters.
The additional deployment comes as many members of Congress have questioned the longstanding U.S.-Saudi security alliance and backed several efforts - which have failed so far - to stop Trump from selling arms to the kingdom without congressional approval or providing support to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen.