Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a select number of U.S. troops to prepare to deploy in support of Israel, multiple outlets have reported.
About 2,000 such troops were chosen this weekend to be ready to assist with advising and medical support, The Wall Street Journal first reported .
The forces will be pulled from across the U.S. armed services, with the troops currently stationed inside the Middle East and in nearby Europe. But officials have not said which units were chosen or the location they would deploy to, according to the Journal.
The outlet noted the troops wouldn’t serve in a combat role, and no infantry had been put on prepare-to-deploy order.
Fox News later reported Monday that Austin has given “be ready to deploy” orders for a select number of American troops.
Deputy Defense press secretary Sabrina Singh declined to confirm the reports to members of the press Monday.
“I don’t have more to provide at this time,” she told reporters at the Pentagon. “I might be able to give you more details later, but at this time, I just don’t have anything more specific to add.”
Israel’s war with Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, has claimed more than 4,000 lives and counting on both sides after Hamas’s bloody surprise assault on Israel on Oct. 7.
The U.S. has continuously expressed support for Israel after the country was attacked, with the Pentagon over the weekend announcing it was sending a second carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean. The strike group is meant to act as a deterrence amid concerns foreign aggressors could engage in the war and will join the USS Gerald Ford group, which is already there.
Washington has also sent munitions and interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system and moved fighter jets to the region.
The Pentagon’s decision to put troops on standby signals a new layer of support for Israeli troops.
Defense officials have insisted, however, that the Pentagon has no intention of putting U.S. forces on the ground.
Instead, the U.S. is helping Israeli officials with “intelligence and planning” for any potential operations to rescue hostages.
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