A squadron of U.S. F-16 fighter jets has arrived in the Middle East to help protect U.S. troops.
The Pentagon announced that a squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft has arrived in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Tuesday to work alongside an array of capabilities the Defense Department has sent to the region in recent days to further enhance the ability of U.S. forces to defend themselves.
Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, militia groups backed by Iran have attacked U.S. forces conducting counterterrorism missions in both Iraq and Syria on more than a dozen occasions.
“We know that the groups conducting these attacks are supported by the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the Iranian regime,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing. “What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region, in the very near term, coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran,” he told reporters.
In response, this past weekend, the Pentagon deployed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to Centcom, and directed to the region a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery from Fort Bliss, Texas, and additional Patriot missile battalions from both Fort Liberty, North Carolina, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
A variety of military units have been put on prepare-to-deploy orders, though none of those have yet been activated, he said.
Ryder said the U.S. has rushed in security assistance to enable Israel Defense Forces to restore security and protect the Israeli people.
Capabilities requested by Israel will include precision guided munitions, small diameter bombs, artillery, ammunition, Iron Dome interceptors and other critical equipment.
The United States has also provided advisors with deep experience in urban combat to Israel to help officials there mitigate civilian casualties as they conduct their military planning.
“Our message to any country or group thinking about trying to take advantage of this situation to widen the conflict is: Don’t,” Ryder said.
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