US ramping up its posture in the Middle East

The Countermeasure
2 min readDec 19, 2023

On December 18, 2023, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin submitted a press release detailing the reasoning and goal of a security partnership in the Red Sea.

Citing increased attacks originating from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, Operation Prosperity Guardian was announced. Its goal is to focus on security in the Red Sea, specifically to ensure the flow of trade, the travels of mariners, and to uphold standards of international law.

The Red Sea is a critical corridor for maritime trade and travel, as it connects the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea. Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, attacks on naval vessels have rapidly increased around the southern end of the Red Sea where it flows into the Arabian Sea.

The attacks have been a nuisance to the international community. Lloyd Austin specifically mentioned the use of drones and rockets by “non-state” actors.

In an effort to police the Red Sea and reestablish some semblance of security, Operation Prosperity Guardian has been conceived by the following partner nations:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Bahrain
  • Canada
  • France
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Seychelles
  • Spain

The operation will be carried out by the Combined Maritime Forces under the joint Task Force 153.

This announcement comes as the war between Iran-backed Hamas and Israel is potentially coming to a close, as Israel announced the American military partners that their ground war in Gaza would need approximately two weeks to complete. What their specific mission set is, is not known. but many speculate it is the destruction of the Hamas organization as well as the facilities and weapons caches that they utilize.

The war began with a sudden attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and has since greatly increased tensions not only in the Middle East but worldwide. Many pro-Hamas protestors and Muslim migrants to Europe and the West have rallied in broad and ambiguous riots. Additionally, the conflict has also spurred attacks by Iranian proxy groups on American military personnel stationed in the Middle East, leading to fears that a broader, large-scale conflict was drawing near.

Austin’s press release coincides with his visit to Israel, where he is reportedly visiting to discuss methods of protecting civilians within Gaza.

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