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article imageUS sends missile defense system and 200 personnel to the Saudis

By Ken Hanly     Sep 27, 2019 in Politics
The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has approved sending air and missiles defense along with 200 personnel to help protect Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said this was just an initial deployment with more to follow.
The deployment
A recent article reports: "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.
The additional forces that could be deployed later are: "Those additional forces include two Patriot missile artillery batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD missile defense system."
US trying to create an international effort to boost Saudi defenses
Esper has spoken to counterparts in the UK, France and Germany about joining the US to strengthen Saudi Arabian defenses but so far there has been no announcement of an international effort to do so. Hoffman noted that other countries had spoken out against Iranian actions in the region and the US was looking for an international effort to beef up the Saudi defenses.
Deployment follows attack on Saudi oil refineries
At the time of the attack an article reported: "Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an armed drone attack early today (Sept. 14) on Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq refinery, the world’s largest oil processing facility. The rebels also hit the Khurais oil field, a major site operated by Saudi Aramco. Both attacks sparked massive fires that could be seen from outer space." The attack disrupted about 5 percent of global oil production briefly and about half that of Saudi Arabia. Although the Houthi rebels in Yemen who are fighting a Saudi coalition claimed responsibility for the attack, the US blamed Iran. Iran supports the Houthis.
Saudi Arabia already has an expensive extensive defense system
The US and the Saudis no doubt think that the increased defenses will fare better if there are further attacks. The Saudis despite their relative small size are the third highest military spender on the globe. The US is looking to spend more funds on anti-drone technology as it appears their existing technology is not effective.
Deployment may be designed to target Iran
The increased presence of the US in Saudi Arabia could be part of a continued buildup in the area that could be used in the case of an eventual war with Iran.
More about US Saudi relations, Saudi defense, Mark Esper
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