US reportedly pulled missile defences out of the Middle East to better confront threats from Russia and China

Lockheed Martin
  • The US has reshuffled its missile defences by pulling Patriot air defence batteries out of the Middle East to better confront threats from Russia and China, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
  • President Donald Trump’s administration, with input from Defence Secretary James Mattis, has pivoted its military focus from fighting terror groups in the Middle East toward countering the growing power of China and Russia.
  • If a Middle Eastern power launched missiles at US forces there, the US would quickly destroy them in retaliation.
  • But Russia and China have huge militaries and missile forces, as well as air forces, which Patriots can defend against.

The US has reshuffled its missile defences by pulling Patriot air defence batteries out of the Middle East to better confront threats from Russia and China, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Defence Secretary James Mattis ordered four Patriot missile batteries out of various Middle Eastern US military sites to realign them to face Russia and China, The Journal quoted multiple senior military officials as saying.

President Donald Trump’s administration, with input from Mattis, has pivoted its military focus from fighting terror groups in the Middle East toward countering the growing power of China and Russia.

Moving Patriot missile and air defence systems from the Middle East would represent a tangible step toward a shifting military posture, and also makes some sense.

Patriot missile systems can tackle incoming missile fires and enemy aircraft. While the US has kept a wary eye on Iran’s growing missile capacity, and Israel, the US’s ally, frequently fends off missile attacks on its homeland, no Middle Eastern country poses the missile threat that Russia or China do.

If Iran, for example, launched a missile or air attack at US forces in Kuwait, one of the sites where Patriots are supposedly being pulled from, it could expect a swift and overwhelming retaliation from superior US forces in the region.

But China and Russia not only have superior missile forces, but also air forces that could do serious damage to the US.

Saudi Arabia, a US ally, frequently uses Patriot missiles against Houthi militant ballistic missile attacks from Yemen, though they have been met with limited success.

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