Pentagon deploys marines to Middle East amid Iran tensions

6 January 2020 (Last Updated January 6th, 2020 12:31)

The Pentagon is deploying the US Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), along with thousands of marines, to the Middle East in the wake of rising tensions with Iran.

Pentagon deploys marines to Middle East amid Iran tensions
US Marines reinforce the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Credits: US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot.

The Pentagon is deploying the US Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), along with thousands of marines, to the Middle East in the wake of rising tensions with Iran.

The reinforcements include marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which is part of the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG also includes the US Navy’s dock landing ship USS Oak Hill and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York.

The deployment comes after reports surfaced that the US Department of Defense sent nearly 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, last weekend to the Middle East.

The additional deployment ordered by the Pentagon is seen as a response to the simmering tensions with Iran after the country’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed last week in an airstrike ordered by US President Donald Trump.

Following the killing, Iran vowed to take retaliatory action to avenge the assassination of the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s (IRGC) Quds Force.

Meanwhile, the US has also suspended the multinational mission against the Islamic State after Iraqi lawmakers passed a resolution calling for US troops to be expelled from the country.

The US has around 5,000 troops in Iraq supporting the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve mission.

In response to the resolution, Trump threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq.

The geopolitical tensions in the Middle East have also led to the British Royal Navy stepping up its presence in the Strait of Hormuz.

The government approved the deployment of Royal Navy warships to ensure the safe passage of merchant vessels in the busy waterway.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was quoted by media sources as saying: “I have instructed preparations for HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.”