The Pentagon on Friday announced it will deploy additional US troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as President Trump has at least for now put off any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Pentagon reporters this is a first step to beef up security and that he wouldn't rule out additional moves down the road, per the AP. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but that it wouldn't involve thousands of US troops. Other officials say the US deployment would likely be in the hundreds and that the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.
The announcement reflected Trump's comments earlier Friday when he told reporters showing restraint "shows far more strength" than launching military strikes and that he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran. Dunford says the extra equipment and troops would give the Saudis a better chance of defending against unconventional aerial attacks. The US hasn't provided any hard evidence Iran was responsible for the attacks, but Esper says drones and cruise missiles used were produced by Iran. Iran has denied involvement and warned the US that any attack will spark an "all-out war" with immediate retaliation from Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and VP Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil facilities as "an act of war." Esper and Dunford declined to discuss potential ship movements to the region, though a number of US Navy vessels are nearby.
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