The White House has stated that U.S. Military combat support in Israel is currently off the table, as the ongoing conflict with Hamas continues and the USS Gerald Ford carrier strike group remains in the region. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that Israelis have expressed their desire to prosecute their operations independently, and there are no plans to put American troops on the ground in combat.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to visit Israel on Friday to meet with top officials, as U.S. aid shipments have begun flowing in. Austin is expected to discuss operational planning and objectives for the conflict with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Gallant, and the Israeli war cabinet. The first U.S. security aid shipment arrived earlier this week, and the Pentagon is readying shipments of Iron Dome missile interceptors. The statement by the White House seems to scuttle the idea of using U.S. special operations forces to rescue hostages being held by Hamas, including “dozens” of Americans.
The possibility of American troops engaging in combat has been raised again after a Pentagon official confirmed that US special operations personnel are at the US Embassy in Israel and have offered to help with hostage recovery efforts. The Pentagon’s advice and consultations with the Israel Defense Forces on hostage rescue efforts are “a high priority” for both.
The USS Gerald Ford, along with four destroyers and a cruiser, was moved into the area of the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday afternoon. The war was sparked by Hamas’ surprise bombardment of Israel with rockets and gunmen. The US assets sent to the area are meant as a show of support and deterrence against groups such as Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border or Iran getting involved in the conflict.
The possibility of long-range strikes, but the official clarified that they are not currently on the table. The Pentagon staged support, and U.S. citizens were offered ways out of the country. The State Department arranged charter flights to assist those unable to book commercial transit. These flights will start Friday, and senior State Department officials are working with airline carriers and international partners to provide additional options to U.S. citizens.