The United States has long been the world’s last remaining military superpower; better equipped and trained, and with more troops than Russia, and with better trained and equipped troops (and more troops capable of being immediately fielded) than China.
Because of this, the United States of America, with soldiers stationed at bases around the world, has provided much of the defense for many allied nations.
Next month, however, the United States has declared that it will move several Patriot missile systems out of the Middle East. These systems will be brought back to the U.S., where they can be refurbished and upgraded, and then they will be redeployed.
The Patriot systems in question will be removed from countries in the Middle East.
Specifically, two missile defense systems will be removed from Kuwait, and one each will be removed from Bahrain and Jordan.
According to the Department of Defense, the systems will be redeployed in order to shift the focus of future military doctrine to dealing with existential threats from nations like Russia and China, as well as the threat from Iran.
DOD officials also said that although they planned to remove the missile batteries, they were not replacing the systems, but rather refurbishing them before redeployment.
Even though the four missile systems were being moved, the military promised that they would continue to maintain their commitment to allies in the region.
Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) said that the command was “strongly committed” to working with our allies in the region in order to promote “regional security and stability.”
He restated that the United States military and its forces remained “postured to conduct operations” throughout the region, and to respond to any possible contingency that might occur in the area.
Patriot missile batteries, which have been in use since 1984, are anti-missile systems, used to intercept incoming missiles and rockets.
The older versions of the system utilized shrapnel to destroy incoming ordnance, basically by firing a missile with a fragmentation warhead on it. The effect was similar to a shotgun blast, hoping to destroy the incoming projectile.
Newer versions, such as the PAC-2 and the PAC-3, which are frequently deployed by the Saudis to deal with short-range ballistic missiles fired into their lands by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, use a ‘kinetic collision.’
Essentially, they utilize the explosive and concussive power of the warhead from the Patriot system in order to either detonate, disarm, or knock the missile off course.
Some have questioned the effectiveness of the system, especially due to conflicting media reports from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In March, a video emerged that suggested Saudi Patriot systems had not, in fact, intercepted seven incoming missiles fired into Riyadh by the Yemeni rebels.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia are among the best allies that the United States has in the region.
Jordan and its king have long stood with the United States in fighting Islamic terrorism throughout the land, and King Abullah II ibn al-Hussein has personally taken part in assaults against ISIS.
Saudi Arabia has assisted in the war on terror in numerous ways, including intelligence work, and their fighter planes have carried out air strikes against various targets since the Global War on Terror began in 2001.
According to the Center For Strategic And International Studies’ Missile Defense Project, 14 nations currently utilize the Patriot missile system for their missile defense needs, and three more are likely to do so in the near future.
Currently, the system is utilized in Qatar, Greece, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, of course.
In late 2017, Romania placed an order for the system, as did Poland, and Sweden has requested an offer for the missile defense system, for which they have budgeted approximately 10 Billion Swedish Krona, which is about $1.13 billion.
Where the missile systems are placed will provide insight into what the Department of Defense, and its leadership, including the venerable James Mattis, consider threats to the United States and its allies in Europe and the Middle East, as well as the Pacific.
The United States is reacting not to external pressure (such as the ‘Russian Restart’ during the Barack Obama years), but rather is changing its priorities. Where the systems will be placed is anyone’s guess, but near Russia is a good guess.