Patriot batteries deployed in Iraq to protect U.S. troops

Drawing lessons from the Iranian attack on two U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia (mainly Ain al-Asad) last January, the U.S. is deploying Patriot air defense batteries to Iraqi bases to protect American troops operating in the country, without the “spontaneous approval” from the Iraqi government: the Patriots were requested in January, and US generals, including CENTCOM commander Kenneth McKenzie and Pat White, have implemented a solution.

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U.S. soldiers from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, begin a missile reload operation in U.S. Central Command, March 7 (Picture source: U.S. Army/Sgt. Zach Mott)

The two U.S. bases receiving the Patriot batteries are Ain al-Asad and Arbil. Some of these batteries are being transferred from Kuwait. This air defense “boosting” move comes as U.S. troops continue to pull out of the country. Indeed, the US is withdrawing from six bases and posts in Iraq as coronavirus spreads and Iranian-backed proxies carry out attacks. The last withdrawing operation concerns Mosul that was abandoned on Monday 30 March.

As assumed by Seth J. Frantzman in the Jerusalem Post, Pro-Iranian parties in the Iraqi parliament want the US to leave and not bring more weapon systems. It appears the US is now consolidating bases, leaving smaller posts and bringing Patriots, perhaps as a trade-off with the Iraqi government or as a reasonable way to defend a smaller number of places where U.S. troops are deployed.