U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst/Released
- The Pentagon has been having a hard time explaining considerations to potentially send more troops to the Middle East to deter Iranian aggression.
- While the Department of Defense denied a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday saying it was considering sending upt to 14,000 additional troops to the region, a senior DoD official said Thursday that the department "intends to make changes to our force posture."
- The Pentagon has ruled out sending 14,000 troops to the Middle East for the time being, but it has not ruled out the possibility of sending thousands more troops.
- CNN reported Thursday afternoon that DoD is considering sending somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 troops, although no decision has yet been made.
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The Department of Defense has been struggling to explain its position on the possibility of sending more troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.
Following a report from the Wall Street Journal that said the US was considering sending as many as 14,000 additional troops to the region, which would essentially double the number of troops sent to the Middle East to deter Iran since tensions spiked earlier this year, the Pentagon quickly denied the story.
"To be clear, the reporting is wrong. The U.S. is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East," Alyssa Farah, the Pentagon press secretary said on Twitter Wednesday evening.
—Alyssa Farah (@PentagonPresSec) December 5, 2019
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood characterized the WSJ report as "erroneous," but then he went on to say that "based on what we're seeing with our concerns with the threat picture, it is possible we would need to adjust our force posture."
"I think that would be a prudent step depending on what we observe," he added.
Rood seemed to suggest that the DoD is considering deploying thousands more troops, but he added that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has not yet made a decision. He explained, though, that "the secretary of defense has told me he intends to make changes to our force posture."
"As discussed in the hearing today, we are constantly evaluating the threat situation around the world and considering our options. We adjust our force posture and troop levels based on adversary action and the dynamic security situation," Farah said in a follow-up statement Thursday afternoon.
She added that Esper had reaffirmed lawmakers that "we are not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East at this time."
The DoD denial that it is sending 14,000 troops to the Middle East does not rule out the possibility of a smaller force. CNN is reporting that the Pentagon is considering sending somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 troops to the region.
—Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) December 5, 2019
And, President Donald Trump also did his part to add to the confusion Thursday, telling reporters, "There might be a threat and if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we'll be announcing whatever we may be doing – may or may not be doing."
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