Army Rangers Deploy to Join US Force Buildup in Middle East

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Army Rangers prepare to lay cover fire for an assault element.
U.S. Army Rangers, assigned to 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, prepare to lay cover fire for the assault element advancing on the objective during task force training on Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., Jan. 23, 2014. The rigorous training ensures rangers are prepared to execute the missions they are tasked with when deployed. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven A. Hitchcock)

An element of the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment has been ordered to the Middle East, joining other ground forces surging to the region as tensions escalate with Iran.

The contingent from the elite special operations raid force is deploying to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, a Pentagon official with knowledge of Special Operations Command forces told Military.com Sunday evening.

Politico was first to report that a company-sized element of the 75th was deploying as part of a special operations contingent heading to the region.

The deployment comes after a series of short-notice deployments in the last few days after the Iranian government pledged to retaliate against a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force.

Military.com confirmed Saturday that the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, carrying about 2,200 Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is moving to the Middle East.

Related: Thousands of Marines Head to Middle East on Navy Ship as Iran Pledges Retaliation

The Pentagon ordered about 3,000 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina to the region on Friday. An initial deployment of the 2nd Battalion, 504th boarded planes on New Year's Day and flew to Kuwait to beef up American forces in the region in the wake after hundreds of Iranian-backed militia members and their supporters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound Tuesday morning.

On Sunday, U.S. officials with Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve announced that the command is suspending its anti-Islamic State mission, which involves about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, following calls from in Iraq's parliament for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.

A series of rocket attacks on U.S. positions in Iraq, including two more Saturday night, "has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh [another name for ISIS] and we have therefore paused these activities," the task force said in the statement.

In Tehran on Sunday, Hossein Dehghan, the former defense minister and now top military adviser to Khamenei, said the Iranian response would be limited to an attack on U.S. forces, but Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami warned of reprisals that would not be limited to attacks on the U.S. military.

-- Gina Harkins and Richard Sisk contributed to this story.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Read More: US Suspends Anti-ISIS Mission in Iraq to Protect Against Iranian Reprisals

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