The Middle East is witnessing a major US troop movement with amphibious assault ships and more than 3,000 sailors deploying to shipping lanes in the region.
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The amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) both transited the Suez Canal on 6 August as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of operations.
Both ships set sail as part of a pre-announced Department of Defense deployment to ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East. Amphibious assault ships can carry more than two dozen rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft including MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, AV-8B Harrier attack jets and amphibious landing craft.
The area of operations includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean, and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal, and Strait of Bab al-Mandeb. Unconfirmed reports have also indicated the US could be considering putting armed US military troops on commercial ships to deter Iran from seizing vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.
The move is reportedly made in response to alleged destabilising policies used by Iran, such as terrorism support and the use of advanced missiles, cyber weapons, and unmanned aircraft systems.
In February this year, the United States alleged that Iran, its proxies, and partners have stepped up attacks striking civilians, critical infrastructure, and international maritime shipping including the repeated seizure of ships in the Persian Gulf.