October 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Surges Additional Combat Forces to the Middle East

October 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Surges Additional Combat Forces to the Middle East

Latest Developments

The Pentagon confirmed on October 17 that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the extension of the Ford Carrier Strike Group in the Eastern Mediterranean. Likewise, Washington placed 2,000 U.S. troops on alert for potential deployment to the Middle East. In addition, the Pentagon is moving the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the three-ship Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) closer to Israel. The Biden administration’s primary goal is to convince Tehran and its terror proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon to not open a new northern front against Israel. “For any country, for any group or anyone thinking about trying to take advantage of this atrocity to try to widen the conflict or to spill more blood, we have just one word: Don’t,” Austin said last week during his visit to Tel Aviv.

Expert Analysis

“In a message of support to Israel and a warning to Iran and Hezbollah, the United States is surging forces to the Middle East, demonstrating the Department of Defense’s unparalleled ability to quickly project combat power across great distances. Let’s hope Tehran and its terror proxies get the message.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“The arrival of significant U.S. assets to the Middle East region, including the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, will send a powerful deterrent message to Iran.” — Ryan Brobst, FDD Senior Research Analyst

Two Is Stronger Than One

In addition to the extension of the Ford Carrier Strike Group, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group departed Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on October 14 and is heading toward the Eastern Mediterranean. It is expected to arrive around the end of October. The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was originally slated to relieve the Ford Carrier Strike Group. Following Austin’s decision to extend the Ford’s deployment, both carrier strike groups will soon operate together in the waters near Israel.

Marine Expeditionary Unit Capabilities

The ARG moving closer to Israel includes the USS Bataan, USS Mesa Verde and USS Carter Hall. The USS Mesa Verde was already in the Mediterranean and is moving eastward. The USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall had disembarked Marines to participate in the Kuwait 3.0 bilateral military exercise. In recent days, the Pentagon ordered those Marines to return to their ships, which are now operating near the Red Sea. The approximately 4,000 sailors and Marines who together make up the Bataan ARG/26th MEU bring infantry, aviation, and logistical capability, including an ability to conduct non-combatant evacuation and special operations.

Additional Reinforcements

Secretary Austin’s prepare-to-deploy order for 2,000 Department of Defense personnel puts them on a heightened state of alert so they can deploy more quickly if needed. They “would be in a position to rapidly deploy additional air defense, security logistics, medical, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and transportation, and additional capabilities into the theater,” Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, said on October 17. These military posture enhancements augment the deployment to the region of Air Force F-15, F-16, and A-10 attack squadrons last week.  

How the Pentagon can help Israel now,” by Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst

In Support of Israel, U.S. Sends Aircraft Carrier Strike Group to Eastern Mediterranean,” FDD Flash Brief

America’s Top Marine in the Middle East on the Iran Threat,” Podcast featuring Bradley Bowman and MARCENT Commander Major General Paul J. Rock Jr.


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy