- The White House has notified Congress that it intends to deploy an additional 1,500 US troops to the Middle East, the Associated Press reported Friday.
- On Thursday, Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan said the Department of Defence was considering sending more troops to the Middle East to confront Iran, but he wouldn’t say how many.
- Following a meeting Thursday in which Shanahan briefed the president on the Iran situation, The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House and the Pentagon had agreed to send as many as 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East.
- This could be the first wave of a much larger deployment, as The Journal said military officials handling US operations in the Middle East had requested 13,000 additional troops.
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The White House has notified Congress that it intends to deploy an additional 1,500 US troops to the Middle East, the Associated Press reported Friday.
The buildup to confront Iran comes after a week of reports suggesting the US was set to deploy anywhere from 5,000 to 120,000 military personnel. On Thursday, Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan offered the first public confirmation that any additional manpower might be needed.
Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that the Department of Defence was looking at ways to “enhance force protection,” saying that this “may involve sending additional troops,” CNN reported.
The New York Times reported a little over a week ago that the Trump administration was considering sending as many as 120,000 US troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran. Trump called the report “fake news” the following day but said that if Iran wanted to fight, he would send “a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
Shanahan dismissed these reports Thursday while declining to say how many more troops might be required. “I woke up this morning and read that we were sending 10,000 troops to the Middle East and read more recently there was 5,000,” he said, according to Voice of America, adding: “There is no 10,000, and there is no 5,000. That’s not accurate.”
After speaking with the press, Shanahan attended a meeting in which Trump was briefed on the security situation with respect to Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported afterward that the Pentagon and the White House agreed to send 2,000 to 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East, a number the Associated Press later confirmed to be 1,500.
This could be just the first wave of a surge of US forces into the region, as The Journal said military officials handling US operations in the Middle East had requested 13,000 additional troops. The Journal also reported that the US might be moving more submarines, aircraft, drones, and air-and-missile defence systems into the area.
The US has already sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, a task force of B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers, an amphibious assault vessel, and an air-and-missile defence battery to the US Central Command area of responsibility.
These assets were deployed in response to what CENTCOM called “clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region.” The exact nature of the threat is unclear, as the Pentagon has yet to publicly explain the threat.
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