In early January, the Pentagon sent an additional 3,500 paratroopers to the Middle East on short notice after a spike in tensions that followed the assassination of Iran’s top general in a US drone attack.
American forces deployed to the Middle East to deter Iran have found themselves stuck in Kuwait after the movement of all US troops overseas was frozen for 60 days due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning a surprise extension of their deployment.
Roughly 3,500 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were rushed to Kuwait, where the US operates several military bases, from North Carolina just days after the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds force.
Soleimani’s assassination on 3 January just outside Baghdad, which apparently did not comply with international law, exacerbated tensions between the US and Iran, prompting a retaliatory non-lethal missile strike from Iran on Iraqi bases that host American soldiers.
Some 800 service members returned to North Carolina in February, but the remaining 2,700 troops are now stuck in Kuwait because of the new coronavirus. As the US became the world’s most-affected country, Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday ordered to stop all troop movement overseas for 60 days in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“This wasn’t a normal deployment. It was truly no notice. Dudes’ lives are in a s**t place back home…