US commandos on the ground in Israel are actively assisting in the effort to locate more than 200 hostages, who were kidnapped by Hamas members from the Gaza Strip during a cross-border attack on October 7, as stated by US Assistant Secretary of Defense Christopher Maier.
He remarked: "We are actively helping the Israelis to do a number of things." Maier further explained that the primary mission of US special forces is to help Israel "identify hostages, including those who are US citizens." Maier refrained from disclosing the exact number of US special operations forces in Israel.
However, other US officials, speaking anonymously, confirmed that the US Defense Department had dispatched several dozen commandos in recent days. This is in addition to a small team that was already in Israel on October 7 for previously scheduled training.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized the importance of careful consideration regarding Israeli
These US commandos are working in tandem with members of the FBI, the State Department, and other US government experts to facilitate the safe release of the hostages.
They are closely coordinating their efforts with Israeli counterparts. Notably, US special operations forces do not have combat roles in Israel but are focused on advising and assisting with the complex tasks associated with the situation in the Gaza Strip.
In conversations with his Israeli counterpart, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized the importance of careful consideration regarding Israeli ground operations in the Gaza Strip, given the complex network of tunnels under densely populated areas controlled by Hamas.
Maier affirmed: "We will work with them as much as possible to help advise them on those types of activities." The New York Times has reported that several Western countries have discreetly deployed small teams of their special forces closer to Israel.
Their purpose is to support potential rescue operations and be ready for a large-scale evacuation of their citizens from Israel or Lebanon, demonstrating the international community's commitment to addressing the situation.