The Trump administration is reportedly planning to send up to 10,000 more United States service members into the Middle East as tensions have continued to escalate with Iran.
The Associated Press reports:
The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it’s not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces. Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran.
Thursday morning’s meeting comes as tensions with Iran continue to simmer, and it wasn’t clear if a decision would be made during the session. Any move to deploy more forces to the Middle East would signal a shift for President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce America’s troop presence in the region.
U.S. officials have provided few details about possible Iranian threats, but indicated they initially involved missiles loaded onto small Iranian boats. This week, officials said the missiles have been taken off the boats near Iran’s shore, but other maritime threats continue.
Sending more troops could also raise questions on Capitol Hill. During back-to-back closed briefings for the House and Senate on Tuesday, defense leaders told congressional officials the U.S. doesn’t want to go to war with Iran and wants to de-escalate the situation.
The Washington Examiner reports the proposal comes after the State Department announced they were ordering all non-emergency personnel to leave Iraq, including state officials at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
From the report:
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq,” the embassy in Baghdad said.
The Pentagon’s plan also comes after a rocket, the same model used by Iran, was fired at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday. No casualties were reported in the attack.
Air Force Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not confirm the plans, saying, “As a matter of long-standing policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential or alleged future operations or plans.”