The Pentagon on Thursday was presenting proposals to the White House to send military reinforcements to the Middle East to beef up defenses against Iran amid heightened tensions in the region.
President Donald Trump, speaking to reporters before the meeting, said he was not convinced the troops were needed but would do whatever was necessary.
“We’ll see what happens with Iran,” said Trump. “I don’t think we’re going to need them, I really don’t, but we’re going to have a meeting on it in about an hour. I would certainly send troops if we need them.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters the Defense Department has not yet determined how many troops might be sent to reinforce the existing US military presence in the region.
He disputed reports by The Associated Press and others that the Pentagon was proposing to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East. He said reports citing specific figures were “not correct,” but he would not say whether the numbers under consideration were higher or lower.
Officials said the proposed troop reinforcements are not a response to any new threat from Iran but are aimed at strengthening security for the U.S. forces already in the region.
They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans have not been formally announced.