The U.S. Department of Defense has announced plans to deploy even more forces to U.S. Central Command (Centcom) area of responsibility in response to Iran’s attacks and seizures of commercial ships in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
Centcom on Thursday said the Secretary of Defense has ordered the deployment of an Amphibious Readiness Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU) to the region. This comes in addition to Monday’s announcement that the U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner, along with additional fighter jets, including F-35s and F-16s, would be sent to the Strait of Hormuz.
The force deployment comes after Iran has attacked, seized, or attempted to seize nearly 20 internationally-flagged ships in the region since 2021.
ARG/MEUs provide forward-deployed, sea-based, expeditionary forces that can operate across a range of military operations. Centcom’s announcement said the ARG/MEU will provide “additional aviation, maritime assets, and U.S. Marines, providing even greater flexibility and maritime capability” in the region.
“U.S. Central Command is committed to defending freedom of navigation within our area of responsibility which includes some of the most important waterways in the world,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, Commander U.S. Central Command. “These additional forces provide unique capabilities, which alongside our partners nations in the region, further safeguard the free flow of international commerce and uphold the rules based international order, and deter Iranian destabilizing activities in the region.”
Earlier this month, the Iranian navy attempted to illegally seize two ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
One of the ships, the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF Moss, was approached by an Iranian naval vessel on July 5, but Iranian vessel departed after the arrival of the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul. That same day, the Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager, chartered by U.S. oil major Chevron, was approached by an Iranian naval vessel and fired upon after Iran accused it of being involved in a collision with an Iranian boat. The Iranian vessel left when the USS McFaul arrived. Chevron denied the accusation.
The Department of Defense in May said it was increasing patrols in the Strait of Hormuz and collaborating with regional allies and partners to bolster its defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf. The U.S. 5th Fleet has also worked to enhance international maritime security collaboration in the area.
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