U.S. The Central Command requests additional defensive capabilities that may lead to as many as 5,000 to 10,000 additional troops being sent to the Middle East to deter Iran, a US official told ABC News.
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There will be a meeting of the White House on Thursday, where the central command procedure will be considered by two US officials who stressed that it is unclear which parts of the CENTCOM request could be approved at this White House meeting.
The US official said that defensive capabilities and weapon systems are required and the number of additional forces will depend on the options approved.
The CENTCOM request has been in the works for some time, said the US official.
There are currently 60,000 to 80,000 US troops serving in the Middle East, including 14,000 in Afghanistan, 5,000 in Iraq, 2,000 in Syria, 10,000 in Kuwait, 10,000 in Qatar, and thousands more at sea and elsewhere in the region.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford briefed Parliament and Senate on President Donald Trump's Iran strategy, including recent intelligence on an increased Iranian threat and US response to it, the proliferation of An airline's strike group and B-52 bombers and the orderly departure of non-emergency personnel from Iraq.
Having heard from the officials, the Democratic legislators expressed alarm over the administration's position in the Middle East and the possibility of a conflict with Iran.
Additional defensive capabilities may include additional patriot anti-missile batteries such as those already deployed to an unspecified Middle East location to deter Iran.
CENTCOM could also request additional US Navy ships to the region in addition to the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group and the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Group, currently located in the Northern Arabian Sea.
But it is unclear when additional ships could arrive in the region. Two weeks ago, the Pentagon announced that the USS Arlington would be headed to the Middle East to replace it with another ship, but it has not yet taken place since Arlington is currently in Spain.
The new CENTCOM request for additional defensive capabilities and forces comes as Shanahan said on Tuesday that the threat of Iranian attacks against US forces had been put on hold.
U.S. officials said the Iranian threat to US forces continues even though Iran has withdrawn some weapons systems. Two US officials said Iran had removed cross missiles from two civilian dhows that posed a risk to US navy ships, commercial ships and land targets.