The U.S. Embassy in Iraq, located in the country’s capital of Baghdad, came under siege on Tuesday when Iranian-backed, Hezbollah-aligned militants burned a guard shack and attempted to breach the compound in response to targeted airstrikes on the group’s leadership in recent weeks — strikes that came after an attack on a U.S. base in northern Iraq left one American contractor dead and several U.S. soldiers wounded.
Amid the unrest in Baghdad, President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of hundreds of additional troops to the region, with thousands more set to follow, according to Fox News.
Protecting our people
According to Fox’s report, three unnamed Defense Department officials said “the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade has been issued orders to deploy rapidly to Kuwait,” most likely as a show of force against the Iranian-backed militias. That special brigade, known as the Division Ready Brigade, includes roughly 4,000 paratroopers who are capable of deploying in full strength within 96 hours.
Though an exact number of troops set to be deployed is not yet known, some of the paratroopers appear to have taken off for Kuwait almost immediately; C-17 cargo planes left the 82nd Airborne’s home in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina on Tuesday, according to Fox.
“At the direction of the Commander in Chief, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement released by the department Tuesday.
He went on: “Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately, and additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days.”
Esper went on to call the deployment “an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today.”
“The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world,” he insisted.
Boots on the ground
Should the entire 4,000-troop brigade deploy to Kuwait in the coming days, they would join the roughly 60,000 U.S. service members already in the region, including at least 5,000 troops already deployed in Iraq.
In addition to those boots already on the ground, the U.S. Navy also has the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its accompanying strike group in the nearby Gulf of Oman, which is wholly capable of conducting strikes and assisting with ground action in the region.
As for the embattled embassy in Baghdad, 100 U.S. Marines were dispatched to bolster the facility’s security on Tuesday, and Apache attack helicopters have been tasked with providing immediate air cover over the area, according to Fox.
Unlike under the former president, Trump has made it clear that any threats to U.S. institutions will not be taken lightly. Protecting Americans is his No. 1 priority — and this is just his latest move in that effort.