US Making ‘Defensive Moves in Mideast Over Iran Fears’

USS Arlington, Patriot Missiles to Join Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in Middle East

DESPARDES News Monitor: US officials told Reuters Friday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had ordered the deployment of more MIM-104 Patriot missile defense systems to the Middle East due to increasing tensions between the US and Iran.

US officials said intelligence indicates Iran and its proxies could be planning to threaten US forces and interests in the Middle East.

The move follows sales worth $6 billion of the mobile surface-to-air missile system to both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain earlier this week.

Both countries are allies of the US in the Persian Gulf and house major US military bases just a couple of dozen miles from Iranian territory.

“The Acting Secretary of Defense has approved the movement of USS Arlington and a Patriot Battery to US Central Command as part of the command’s original request for forces earlier this week,” a Pentagon statement said.

USS Arlington transits the Mediterranean Sea on Feb. 1, 2019. US Navy Photo

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CNN has reported that intelligence has shown that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf. The US military believes that cruise missiles could be launched from the small Iranian boats, which are known as dhows. Officials have said those boats are IRGC naval assets, not regular Iranian navy boats.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by US President Donald Trump’s administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday and is currently sailing in the Red Sea.On Friday a defense official reiterated that the Iranian threat “is still real and credible and we’re taking it seriously.”The deployment of the Arlington and Patriot missile battery is “meant to be defensive in nature,” the official said.

The US posturing of forces “provides us with options should deterrence fail and we need to respond,” the official added.