The Pentagon is planning to pull four U.S. missile defense systems from several Middle Eastern countries to realign military capabilities as Defense Secretary James Mattis takes aim at what his department sees as bigger threats, possibly China, Russia or Iran.
Mattis is reportedly removing four Patriot missile defense systems out of Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait sometime in October, according to The Wall Street Journal, which is further sign that the administration is focusing on evolving threats from other adversaries and is moving away from the historic conflicts in the Middle East.
The missile systems are used to intercept and shoot down enemy missiles and planes, and the four systems have been taken offline and will be deployed next month, officials told The WSJ.
Not all of the missile defense systems will be removed, officials said, but they did convey in the report that the removal of these four is a rather significant move.
The report comes as President Donald Trump’s administration ramps up its rhetoric against different adversaries, specifically Iran, as well as reports that Russia plans to give an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria. (RELATED: Russia Promises To Bolster Assad’s Air Defenses Over Israeli Objections)
National Security adviser John Bolton escalated the rhetoric on Iran during a speech on Tuesday, saying, “The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behavior.”
“Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you,” Bolton said at the United Against Nuclear Iran conference in New York.
The State Department issued a report on Tuesday “detailing the scope of the Iranian regime’s destructive behavior at home and abroad,” which says Iran’s ballistic missile programs pose as a critical threat to the region’s security.
“U.S. Forces remain postured to conduct operations throughout the region and to respond to any contingency,” a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Florida, Capt. Bill Urban, told WSJ.
“U.S. Central Command is strongly committed to working with our allies and partners to promote and provide regional security and stability.”
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