The Pentagon says it has selected 2,000 troops it is readying for potential deployment in support of Israel as it battles Hamas in Gaza and potentially Hezbollah across its northern border.
Based on US officials speaking to The Wall Street Journal, American troops are not expected to serve in any combat roles, but only in advisory capacities or missions like medical support.
"The troops are currently stationed both inside the Middle East and outside, including Europe, the officials said," WSJ writes. "It isn't clear under what circumstances the U.S. could deploy the troops or to where, but the Pentagon decision signaled it is preparing to support Israeli troops should Israel launch a ground incursion into Gaza."
Already US Marines have been moved from Kuwait in preparation for potential greater support roles related to Israel. The Biden administration has dispatched two carrier strike groups to the general region, likely expected to enter the eastern Mediterranean at some point soon.
Separately, a defense official told the AP that the troops would "not be sent to Israel but could be sent to countries in the region."
The situation remains highly fluid and unpredictable, as there have been reports that Israel's ground invasion is "imminent" for the past three days. There are signs Israeli leaders could be delaying not only out of concern for the some 200 hostages Hamas has, but due to the threat of Hezbollah opening all-out war in the north. Iran's threats have also been increasing.
The US is also assisting Israel with intelligence, particularly related to the captives, among them Americans. However, so far the Pentagon has ruled out the idea of sending US commandos as part of rescue efforts.
Of course, given the population density of Gaza, and given the difficult urban warfare environment, any military rescue mission might be a 'mission impossible' kind of scenario - even if intelligence could pinpoint their exact locations, which is unlikely.
If Israel does go into the strip with full force, but without knowing the exact locations of the hostages, it could be highly dangerous for the captives.