By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Additional U.S. warships and Marines are to be deployed to the Middle East, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered Thursday, as the United States continues to bolster its military presence in the region to counter Iran’s growing threats to commerce vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.
The USS Bataan and the USS Carter Hall, along with their personnel and equipment, will be deployed to U.S. Central Command’s Area of Responsibility where they will join the USS Thomas Hudner and F-35 and F-16 fighter jets that were deployed earlier this week.
“Through these actions, the United States is demonstrating commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation and deterring Iranian destabilization activities in the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The deployments follow recent destabilizing activities committed by Iran in the Gulf that have required intervention by the United States and ally militaries.
In April, Iran’s navy was successful in capturing a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker.
In early June, the U.S. and British navies responded to a distress call from a merchant ship transiting the Strait of Hormuz that came under harassment from what U.S. Naval Forces Central Command described as three Iranian fast-attack boats.
And on July 5, the U.S. military said it thwarted two attempts by the Iranian navy to seize commercial tankers near the coast of Oman.
According to U.S. Central Command, in the last two years, Iran has either attacked, seized or attempted to seizure nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels within its area of operations.
U.S. Central Command said Thursday’s deployment will add further aviation, maritime and Marine assets that provide “even greater flexibility and maritime capability in the region.”
“These additional forces provide unique capabilities, which alongside our partners nations in the region, further safeguard the free flow of international commerce and uphold the rules-based international order, and deter Iranian destabilizing activities in the region,” Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander U.S. Central Command, said in a statement.
The deployment of additional fighter jets and the USS Thomas Hudner, which is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, was announced Monday, which was on top of May’s increase in rotation of U.S. warships and aircraft patrolling the Strait of Hormuz.