The Pentagon has settled on sending an Army Patriot missile defense battery and four Sentinel RADAR units to defend Saudi Arabia against attacks, following airstrikes on oil fields earlier this month.
That would include 200 support personnel, according to a Thursday statement from Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
“It is important to note these steps are a demonstration of our commitment to regional partners, and the security and stability in the Middle East,” Hoffman said.
Saudi Arabia alleged Wednesday an attack by drones and cruise missiles on the heart of the kingdom's oil industry was "unquestionably sponsored by Iran," naming but not directly accusing Tehran of launching the assault.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford announced on Friday that they were getting together a plan to aid Saudi Arabia in its defense after an investigation found the weapons used to target Saudi oil fields had been made in and launched from Iran.
“This follows the Secretary and Chairman’s extensive outreach to partners in the region, and around the globe,” Hoffman said in his statement.
On top of those forces, Esper put three more units on “prepare to deploy” orders, the statement said ― two more Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system’s operators and maintainers.
“While no decision has been made to deploy these additional forces, they will maintain a heightened state of readiness,” Hoffman said.
Any attack on Iran by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will spark an “all-out war,” Tehran’s top diplomat warned Thursday, raising the stakes as Washington and Riyadh weigh a response to a drone-and-missile strike on the kingdom’s oil industry that shook global energy markets.
While Esper has spoken to his counterparts in the United Kingdom, France and Germany about the possibility of joining the U.S. in beefing up Saudi Arabia’s defenses, no announcements have been made concerning an international effort.
“Other countries have called out Iranian misadventures in the region, and we look for them to contribute assets in an international effort to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s defense," Hoffman said.