Army May Send Missile-Defense Systems to Middle East to Counter Future Iran Strikes

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Media outlets visit one of the many impact sites created by the recent missile attacks at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Jan. 13, 2020. (U.S. Army/Spc. Derek Mustard)
Media outlets visit one of the many impact sites created by the recent missile attacks at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Jan. 13, 2020. (U.S. Army/Spc. Derek Mustard)

The U.S. Army may send missile-defense systems and other capabilities to the Middle East to ensure U.S. forces there are prepared to deal with future Iranian attacks, such as the ballistic missile strike that threatened Americans in Iraq last week.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Wednesday that the Pentagon is considering deploying additional enabling capabilities to the region to counter any future strikes from Iranian forces.

On Jan. 7, Iran launched 16 ballistic missiles at two bases where American troops are stationed in retaliation for the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

There were no casualties in the missile attacks, but McCarthy said the Pentagon is not going to underestimate Iran's capabilities.

Related: Iran Fully Planned to Kill US Troops In Missile Attacks, Top General Says

"They are a very capable enemy; they have capabilities that can strike and hit Americans, so we are looking at additional capabilities that we could send to the region," he told defense reporters Wednesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. "It could be a variety of enablers like missile defense, so we are looking at that."

McCarthy would not go into further detail about the types of capabilities under consideration.

Since Dec. 31, roughly 9,000 U.S. ground forces have been ordered to the Middle East amid escalating tensions that began when mobs of Iranian-backed militia members stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad.

Army Special Operations Command also deployed a company-sized element of the 75th Ranger Regiment with other special operations forces.

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

Read More: As Military Units Deploy Amid Iran Tensions, Here's What Those Left Behind Are Doing

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