The Trump administration has notified Congress of its plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Iran. The decision was made on Thursday following a meeting between the president and Pentagon leaders.
“Our job is deterrence. This is not about war,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at the time. “We have a mission there in the Middle East: Freedom of navigation, counterterrorism in Syria and Iraq, defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen, and the security of Israel and Jordan.”
President Trump has been somewhat more reluctant about deploying more troops, saying on Thursday “if we need it, we’ll be there in whatever numbers we need.” The New York Times reported earlier this month that Pentagon officials were considering sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East, which the president dismissed as “fake news.”
U.S. officials told The Washington Post on Friday that the Pentagon was focusing on providing additional Patriot missile defense capabilities and surveillance and reconnaissance units to military units in the region.
“We are trying to work as closely as we can with our allies to get them to hold fast on these fairly negative attempts at nuclear extortion and not give in to Iran’s demands,” one official told the publication.