WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States is bolstering its forces in the Middle East following an attack on the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad.
750 troops with the 82nd Airborne Division shipped out to Kuwait, and officials said that an additional 4,000 soldiers could be deployed in the coming days.
"At the direction of the Commander in Chief, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.
The troops learned they would be deployed on New Year's Eve and were given just 18 hours to prepare. Early Wednesday morning, not long after ringing in the new year, they boarded C-17 planes at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today," Esper said. "The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world."
The U.S. has sent around 14,000 troops to the Middle East since May as tensions with Iran continue to rise.