Trump deploys 1,500 soldiers to Middle East after insisting more troops were unnecessary

Lily Puckett

The US will order more troops to the Middle East, Donald Trump has said, despite just a day earlier saying he thought further deployments in the region were unnecessary.

Mr Trump said around 1,500 troops would be sent amid rising tensions with Iran. Congressional aides confirmed that Congress was notified of the new plan before it was announced.

"We want to have protection. The Middle East, we're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House before boarding a plane for Japan. "Mostly protective. Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see how – we'll see what happens."

A defence official later claimed that the actual number of incoming troops was 900, which will be to added to 600 troops whose deployment in the region will be extended.

The announcement comes at the end of a week in which several numbers were floated for troop increases in the region.

On Thursday, the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, denied reports that between 5,000 to 10,000 US troops could be sent to defend against the potential threat from Iran.

"There is no 10,000, there's no 5,000, and that's not accurate," he told reporters.

Representative Adam Smith, who serves as the House Armed Services Committee Chairman, issued a statement calling the increase in troops an “unsettling” move.

"Without a clearly articulated strategy, adding more personnel and mission systems seems unwise, and appears to be a blatant and heavy-handed move to further escalate tensions with Iran," Mr Smith said.

"I look forward to hearing from Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan how this decision complements a broader strategy in the region, which focuses on de-escalation and diplomacy first,” his statement continued.