As the violent conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, the United States has significantly increased its military assets and troops in the Middle East. This escalation aims to deter the war from expanding into a larger regional crisis.
Carrier Strike Groups Deployed
Several powerful U.S. Navy carrier strike groups have deployed to waters near Israel, bringing thousands of sailors and Marines, warships, fighter jets, helicopters and cruise missiles.
The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Red Sea south of Israel over the weekend. The USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier heads a strike force including a guided missile cruiser, two destroyers and 70+ aircraft. While likely remaining outside the Persian Gulf, the deployment sends a strong warning to Iran against intervention.
Additionally, the USS Ford Carrier Strike Group is now in the Mediterranean Sea after being sent in late October. The group contains the USS Ford, America’s newest aircraft carrier, plus three ballistic missile defense ships.
Submarine and Other Warships
The Pentagon revealed that an Ohio-class nuclear submarine traversed the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. Ohio subs can launch over 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles, providing massive firepower. This rare admission of a sub’s movements indicates a concerted messaging strategy.
Other U.S. warships now in the region include the command vessel USS Mount Whitney and destroyers USS Bataan, Carter Hall, Hudner and Carney. Recently, the USS Carney intercepted missiles and drones fired from Yemen towards Israel.
Troop Deployments to the Middle East
The U.S. currently has around 45,000 troops and contractors stationed in the Middle East, with the vast majority in Kuwait. Thousands more are in Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the Pentagon has deployed an additional 1,500 troops to the region. 900 were sent in late October, mainly for air defense assets. Another 300 troops were announced days later to provide ordnance disposal, communications and support roles.
Deterring Wider Conflict
This major U.S. military buildup aims to deter other nations from joining the war and widening the conflict. The impressive array of forces offers both strategic messaging and tangible protection for American interests in the Middle East. However, the Biden administration has affirmed its support for Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas rocket attacks.
This latest crisis highlights the complex balancing act the U.S. must play regarding Middle East stability and its commitment to allies like Israel. But the robust military presence sends a clear signal that America stands ready to respond should the violence escalate further.