Trump says he will send 1,500 troops to Middle East
May 25 2019
The Pentagon is sending about 1,000 more USA troops, including an Air Force fighter squadron, to the Middle East to counter what officials say are "escalatory and troubling" threats from Iran.
Several recent media reportssaid Pentagon and White House leaders were mulling sending anywhere between 2,000 to 10,000 additional usa troops to the region for deterrence purposes.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan outlined the deployment, which he said will include 1,500 troops, a Patriot missile battalion, combat and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as intelligence assets, in a statement Friday.
Also on Friday, the U.S. military accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new USA deployments.
The administration notified Congress earlier in the day about the troop plans.
Briefing reporters at the Pentagon, Gilday, the Joint Staff director, did not provide direct evidence to back up claims tying Iran to the attacks.
Another U.S. official said some of the additional forces would be engineers who would "harden" structures for defensive purposes.
"This is truly operations driven by intelligence", Gilday said, adding that the US continues to see intelligence suggesting that Iran is actively planning attacks against the USA and partners in the region by the Revolutionary Guard and Iranian proxies in Yemen and Iraq.
"Right now, I don't think Iran wants to fight".
Trump said the troops would have a "mostly protective" role. There are about 5,200 troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria.
Gilday said the USA moves have had some impact.
President Donald Trump's administration also invoked the threat from Iran to declare a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of billions of dollars' worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries without required congressional approval.
Amid concerns of possible Iranian attacks on USA interests, the Trump administration ordered the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, four B-52 bombers and Patriot missile defense batteries to the region.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated in recent weeks as the United States tightened sanctions with what it said was the goal of pushing Iran to make concessions beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal.
Mr Trump reinstated the sanctions previous year after abandoning the landmark nuclear deal that Iran has signed with six nations - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
The two moves signal an intensified push against Tehran that is likely to raise concerns on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have questioned the administration's threat assessment about Iran and expressed concern that the military build-up could lead to an accidental confrontation.