President Trump Thursday said that he had not yet decided whether to deploy additional troops to the Middle East to provide protection for American military personnel already there, but would consider options presented by the Pentagon.
US officials told media outlets Wednesday that the White House would decide whether to approve the plan to send about 5,000 troops to the Middle East while some media outlets reported that up to 10,000 could be deployed.
The proposed troop increase was reportedly made at the request of US Central Command. Central Command oversees US military operations in the region.
“I got up this morning and read that we were sending 10,000 troops to the Middle East, and then I read more recently that there was 5,0000,” Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said talking to the reporters Thursday. “There is no 10,000 and there is no 5,000.”
“What we’re looking at is: Are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East?” Shanahan reporters as he confirmed that the Pentagon is considering deploying additional American troops to the Middle East region, amid escalating tensions with Iran.
The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range. Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified.
US President Donald Trump had earlier in the month blacklisted the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in the wake of withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and tightening sanctions against Tehran.