Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East, a US official told Reuters on Friday, in the latest US response to what Washington sees as a growing threat from Iran.
The decision comes after the Trump administration expedited the deployment of a carrier strike group and sent bombers to the Middle East following troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.
A Patriot battery is a long-range, all-weather air defense system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
The statement from the Department of Defense on additional forces to the US Central Command said:
“The Acting Secretary of Defense has approved the movement of USS Arlington (LPD-24) and a Patriot Battery to US Central Command (CENTCOM) as part of the command’s original request for forces from earlier this week.
“These assets will join the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a US Air Force bomber task force in the Middle East region in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.”
The statement said the Defense Department continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies. “Due to operational security, we will not discuss timelines or location of forces.”
“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region.”
USS Arlington is a San Antonio-class ship that transports US Marines, amphibious vehicles, conventional landing craft and rotary aircraft with the capability to support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions.
“USS Arlington also provides a high quality command and control capability and improved interoperability with our allies and partners in the region.”