U.S. Orders Defensive Boost to Mideast After Saudi Attacks

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. will send a “moderate” number of American troops to the Middle East and additional missile defense capabilities to Saudi Arabia in response to last weekend’s attack on oil facilities, top Pentagon officials said.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Friday that the decision came at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and represented a “first step” in the U.S. response. He reiterated U.S. statements that evidence collected to date shows Iran was responsible for the attacks. The briefing by Esper and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed a meeting of national security officials at the White House.“Iran is waging a deliberate campaign to destabilize the Middle East,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. He added that the U.S. has shown “great restraint” in responding so far, but called the strike on Saudi Aramco facilities on Saturday a “dramatic escalation.”Esper and Dunford are still deciding on the specific number of troops and weapons systems but said the personnel deployment will be relatively small, not numbering in the thousands, and that more details would be forthcoming.In addition to the U.S. missile defense assistance, Esper said “we are calling on many other countries who all have these capabilities to do two things — stand up and condemn these attacks” and also contribute equipment.U.S. and Saudi analyses of the attack have described the strike as complex, involving a mix of low-flying drones and cruise missiles coming from the north. The attack exposed glaring vulnerabilities in Saudi Arabia’s defense capabilities despite having spent hundreds of billions of dollars on weaponry in recent years.Swarms of Drones“There’s an international action led by the U.S. and in coordination with the Saudi kingdom to protect the navigation in the gulf and the Arabian sea,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said in a news conference in Riyadh on Saturday. This way “tankers and oil supplies are not subject to any complications from Iran,” he said.Saudi Arabia has already taken delivery of Patriot-3 hit-to-kill missiles bought years ago to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles. The kingdom earlier this year finalized a long-sought after contract for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Thaad missile interceptors designed to intercept ballistic missiles at higher altitudes. It’s not known whether any Thaad batteries have been delivered.“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like” the …read more

Source:: Yahoo