A rapid response force consisting of 2,000 U.S. Marines is heading toward the waters off Israel, CNN reported, citing a defense official familiar with the plans.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), a force of rapid response troops part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, was stationed near Kuwait to complete scheduled exercises but departed early due to ongoing events in the region, Marine Corps Times first reported. The 26th MEU aboard the USS Bataan is now off the coast of Oman and received direction to prepare for a move toward Israel recently, CNN reported.
The U.S. has rapidly moved to crowd the Israeli coastline with U.S. naval power since the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist organization launched a surprise attack on Israel. Tel Aviv declared war on Hamas in response.
U.S. officials say the deployments serve as a show of force to prevent other actors from joining the hostilities against Israel.
The U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group entered the waters of the eastern Mediterranean by Thursday, a defense official told reporters, and a second strike group, led by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, is on its way.
The Marine unit deployed to the Middle East in August to deter malign Iranian activities in the Persian Gulf. It specializes in crisis response, humanitarian relief, amphibious operations and certain special operations, according to CNN.
Separately, the Pentagon told 2,000 U.S. troops to prepare to deploy for limited non-combat missions like medical support and advising, The Wall Street Journal first reported, citing defense officials. The order does not mean they will deploy, but that they are at the ready.
Currently, those troops are stationed near Israel in the Middle East and Europe, the WSJ reported. However, it was unclear where they would deploy or what conditions would prompt the Pentagon to order them on certain missions.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin put those troops on advance notice Sunday night, asking the combatant commands to provide information about which troops they could spare, CNN reported, citing defense officials.
“I don’t have more to provide at this time. I might be able to give you more details later, but at this time I just don’t have anything more specific to add to,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrinah Singh told CNN on Monday.
The Pentagon has signaled it would involve U.S. troops in supporting Israel during its ground invasion of Gaza and potentially if Lebanese Hezbollah opened a second front to the war.
However, U.S. defense officials have adopted a tight lip on potential U.S. troop movements so as not to give the impression the U.S. has plans for military personnel to engage in actual combat in Israel, the officials told CNN.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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