A contingent of soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment is deploying to the Middle East as part of the buildup of forces in the region, a military official confirmed on background.
The official did not say where the Army Rangers were headed in the region, but they add to an already large deployment of 3,500 paratroopers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. U.S. officials previously said that the paratroopers will act as a response force to regional threats from a base in Kuwait.
Rangers are known for airfield seizures and direct action raids. During joint forcible entry operations, Rangers assault and secure airports and terminals for follow-on operations, including mass airdrops of paratroopers and equipment, until eventually aircraft can land and unload equipment and supplies on the ground.
The defense official Army Times spoke with did not say what role the Rangers would play in the region. The 75th Ranger Regiment is also known for conducting direct action raids to capture or kill high value targets.
The massing of forces in the region comes after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. The Pentagon said the strike prevented an imminent attack against U.S. troops, but has yet to provide proof. Critics of the strike called it an assassination of a foreign leader.
The strike on Soleimani was the latest in a series of escalating tensions between Iran and its proxy forces on one side, and the United States on the other. The series of incidents included the killing of an American contractor by a rocket attack, U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-back militias allegedly responsible for the death, and protests that burned a reception center at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Iraq’s Parliament called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from the country Sunday in reaction to the drone strike that killed Soleimani. There are an estimated 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.