U.S. Deploys 2000 Marines Off Israel’s Coast: Repositions F-15E Strike Fighters, A-10 Attack Jets, B-1B Bombers and Two Supercarriers

The United States has deployed 2000 Marines to waters off Israel’s coast as part of a show of force aimed at Tel Aviv’s regional adversaries, with the elite 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit leading a Rapid Response Force on the amphibious carrier USS Bataan. The Bataan is the third carrier the U.S. Navy has dispatched to the region since Hamas launched a major assault on Israeli positions on October 7, following the nuclear powered supercarriers USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Citing unnamed U.S. officials CNN reported that the deployment was intended to “send a message of deterrence to Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah,” and follows an order on October 15 by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin that 2,000 personnel gear up for a potential “medical and logistical support” mission in Israel. The White House nevertheless reportedly “does not want to give the impression that American troops could become embroiled in a hot war,” according to the officials. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was among multiple influential figures to indicate that the United States was likely to take military action should the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalate to involve other parties in the region. Iran, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, and Syria, are all positioned to potentially intervene against Israel, while the United States and Turkey are both considered likely to take military action against Israel’s adversaries should this occur. 

Beyond naval assets the United States has significantly expanded its capability to launch strikes in the Middle East since October 7, including through deployment of A-10 attack jets from the 354th Fighter Squadron to an unknown location in the region just hours after hostilities began. These supplemented A-10s from the 75th Fighter Squadron that were already in the region. Subsequently on October 12 B-1B strategic bombers were forward deployed from Texas to RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom with more than 100 airmen, with the long range aircraft expanding options for air strikes against targets across the region. On October 13 F-15E strike fighters, which are by far the the longest ranged tactical combat jets in NATO, were redeployed to the region from RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, with Air Forces Central reporting: “The aircraft’s advanced systems and targeting capabilities enable U.S. forces to respond to any crisis or contingency, and if necessary, engage and defeat adversaries.” It was reported at the time that the dispatch of F-35s was also under consideration, with multiple squadrons of F-35Cs having been dispatched onboard the supercarrier USS Gerald Ford. B-1Bs and F-15Es has been used extensively in the past for strikes against Syria, and supplement the already significant arsenals the United States has deployed to the region.