The Defense Department has plans to send two U.S.-based Iron Dome air defense batteries to Israel, along with additional missile interceptors, according to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon's chief spokesman.
Ryder, “for security reasons,” declined to say where the Iron Dome batteries, made by Israeli company Rafael, would be stationed and when they are expected to be operational in Israel’s conflict against Hamas.
President Biden, in his recent emergency spending request to Congress, is seeking $4 billion in DOD procurement funds that would be transferred to Israel “for the procurement of the Iron Dome Defense System capabilities and David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile defense in order to counter short-range rockets and mortar threats.”
Additionally, the administration seeks $1.2 billion for research, development, test and evaluation work on Iron Beam, a proposed laser upgrade to Iron Dome.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has tapped 900 U.S. military personnel to deploy or to prepare to deploy to the Middle East, along with Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Air Defense systems, though Ryder stressed they are not going to Israel.
The U.S. troops and air defense systems, Ryder said, are "intended to support regional deterrence efforts and further bolster U.S. force protection capabilities.”
Ryder said U.S. and coalition forces in the Middle East have been attacked by Iran-backed groups using a mix of rockets and drones at least a dozen separate times in Iraq and four separate times in Syria between Oct. 17 and Oct. 26, including one attempted attack today against U.S. forces in Erbil, Iraq.
Ryder said 21 total U.S. personnel have suffered minor injuries during the attacks on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, with some being diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. He said all have returned to duty.
Ryder declined to discuss any potential U.S. response to the attacks.
“We will reserve the right to self-defense,” he said. “I’m not going to telegraph any response other than to say we would do so at a time and place of our choosing.”