US reducing military presence in West Asia to focus on China and Russia: Report
The administration of President Joe Biden is reducing US military presence in the West Asia region as the country increases the focus of its military forces to confront China and Russia, according to a new report.
The Pentagon is withdrawing at least eight Patriot antimissile batteries from countries including Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, quoting Biden administration officials.
The officials added that the Biden administration is also pulling out another antimissile system known as a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad system, from Saudi Arabia, and jet fighter squadrons assigned to the region are being reduced.
The US is also redeploying hundreds of troops who are members of units that operate or support those systems.
The military-related reductions began earlier this month after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on June 2 and informed him about the changes, officials said. They added that the US is removing most of the military hardware from Saudi Arabia.
The US intensified its military presence in the West Asia region about two years ago amid tensions with Iran. Part of the military hardware was deployed in September 2019 to Saudi Arabia after a series of attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
The Journal report noted that the Pentagon decision shows that Washington now believes that the risk of escalating hostilities between the US and Iran has decreased as the Biden administration pursues talks with Tehran on the revival of a nuclear agreement Washington left in 2018, and has signaled its intention to remove sanctions and return to the 2015 deal.
“What you’re seeing is a realignment of resources with strategic priorities,” said a senior US military official.