Saudi Arabia to host U.S. armed forces “to strengthen security”


Jeddah: Saudi Arabia has announced that it would host U.S. armed forces “to strengthen security and stability” in the region.

A spokesperson in the Saudi Ministry of Defense said that “King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has approved hosting US Armed Forces in the Kingdom to increase joint cooperation in defense of regional security and stability and to preserve its peace,” the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday. The decision was based “on the efforts to strengthen regional security and stability, and on the cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America,” the state-run agency said in the report from the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

In Washington, the US Defense Department said it would deploy troops and resources to Saudi Arabia to “provide an additional deterrent” in the face of “emergent, credible threats.” US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in its statement that the deployments to Saudi Arabia had been approved by the Pentagon. “In coordination with and at the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Secretary of Defense has authorized the movement of U.S. personnel and resources to deploy to Saudi Arabia,” the statement said.

This movement of forces provides an additional deterrent and ensures our ability to defend our forces and interests in the region from emergent, credible threats. This movement creates improvement of operational depth and logistical networks. U.S. Central Command continually assesses force posture in the region and is working with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia authorities to base U.S. assets at the appropriate locations.” The decision to put U.S. combat forces back in Saudi Arabia is seen as “adding depth to the regional alignment of US military power.” The U.S. withdrew its forces from Saudi Arabia in 2003 and transferred control of Prince Sultan Air Base, south of the capital Riyadh, that had had been home to up to 60,000 US personnel at one time to Saudi officials.

In June, the Pentagon said it would deploy 1,000 more U.S. troops to the Middle East “for defensive purposes” but did not say where they were going. The action, meant to address air, naval, and ground-based threats, comes after “a request from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces.” The deployment will bring the troop surge into the Middle East to some 2,500 additional servicemembers since the White House announced on May 5 that it was speeding the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a B-52 bomber task force into the region, citing unspecified threats. Senior American defense officials reportedly told Stars & Stripes that some U.S. troops and Patriot air defense missile systems have already arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base where the troops have been preparing for the arrival of aircraft later this summer as well as additional troops.

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