As part of America’s effort to be ready for any eventuality in the tense Persian Gulf region, the Pentagon has deployed six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an airbase within striking range of Iran, according to multiple reports.
The six bombers will be based at Diego Garcia, a British-owned island base located in the Indian Ocean, according to the Washington Examiner. The location has military significance because it is located beyond the range of known Iranian missiles.
Fox News reported that the B-52s departed from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
— Aircraft Spots (@AircraftSpots) January 7, 2020
The Pentagon would not confirm the deployment.
“For operational security, we are not discussing forces flowing into or out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility at this time,” Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said.
The B-52 first saw duty in the Cold War as a long-range strategic bomber capable of carrying nuclear payloads. The giant bomber then took on a new role in the delivery of air-launched cruise missiles in the late stages of the Cold War and beyond.
During America’s war against the Taliban and the Islamic State, B-52s have been used sparingly to drop conventional bombs on suspected terrorist locations.
The U.S. began building up its military forces in the region last year amid Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf region. At that time, B-52s were dispatched to Qatar, but they were withdrawn after a few months.
Since the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s vows of retaliation, the U.S. has bolstered its troop strength in the region, which is now estimated at 80,000, the Examiner reported.
The most recent moves include 3,500 members of the 82nd Airborne who have been sent to Kuwait and 2,400 Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit who are in the region aboard the USS Bataan.
American forces in the region went to high alert Monday night over concerns that Iran or its proxies might launch a drone strike against U.S. sites, according to CNN, which quoted sources it did not name.
“There were indications that we needed to monitor the threats” even closer, CNN quoted what it called a U.S. official as saying.
It quoted a second official as saying that “all Patriot batteries and forces in the area” were on high alert against an “imminent attack threat.”
In recent days, Iran has been observed to be moving military equipment, including drones and missiles, although the action is open to two interpretations. Iran could be positioning its assets for an attack or taking precautions in the event the U.S. attacks Iran.
CNN reported that the U.S. is highly concerned about Iranian action in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
On Monday, the U.S. Maritime Administration warned commercial shipping in the region that “there remains the possibility of Iranian action against U.S. maritime interests in the region.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.