As tension with Iran escalates, US plans to deploy 10,000 troops to West Asia
The US department of defense is expected to present a plan to the White House proposing the deployment of up to 10,000 troops to West Asia in light of escalating tensions with Iran even as top Trump administration have maintained the continuing build-up is about deterrence and not war.
The Pentagon presentation is slated for Thursday, but it was not known if President Donald Trump will attend the briefing.
No timeline was disclosed for the deployment, but reports citing unidentified US officials indicated the additional troops are not expected to be sent all at once, and will be mostly in deterrence posture.
Reports of the additional deployment plan came a day after US secretaries of state and defense Mike Pompeo and Pat Shanahan told lawmakers in closed-door briefings the build up was about deterrence and not war.
Citing credible intelligence — missiles in small Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf — the Trump administration has bolstered its military presence in West Asia significantly in recent days, with an aircraft carrier group, B-52 bombers, anti-missile defense systems and an amphibious warship used for transporting troops.
CNN, which first reported the planned deployment of additional troops Wednesday, said it was in response to a request from the US central military command, which oversees operations in the region, and the deployment of more military assets was also on the anvil, including Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The US military build-up follows Trump administration dialing up pressure on Iran to sign a new deal giving up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes and undertaking to cease “malign activities” in the region.
It also designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization, the first instance of a government agency so sanctioned.