Pentagon chief: No current need for significant troop deployment to Middle East
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Pentagon chief: No current need for significant troop deployment to Middle East

After other officials say US weighing sending thousands more soldiers, Mark Esper says ‘we have sufficient capability in the theater to deter what we need to deter’

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper talks to reporters at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, October 22, 2019, where he saw a Patriot missile battery that the US sent to Saudi to help protect the kingdom against the Iranian threat.  (AP Photo/Lolita Baldor)
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper talks to reporters at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, October 22, 2019, where he saw a Patriot missile battery that the US sent to Saudi to help protect the kingdom against the Iranian threat. (AP Photo/Lolita Baldor)

SIMI VALLEY, California (AP) — US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday the Trump administration is keeping a close eye on unrest in Iran and Iraq, but he sees no immediate need to send any substantial number of additional US forces to the region.

“Right now we believe we have sufficient capability in the theater to deter what we need to deter,” he told reporters flying with him to California.

He said he routinely reviews the adequacy of US military forces in all regions of the globe, taking commanders’ recommendations and requests into account. He said this includes the volatile Middle East, where the Pentagon has already added about 14,000 troops since May.

Depending on circumstances, “there may be some minor augmentations” of forces in the Middle East, as well as routine rotations of units, he said. But no major additions are currently being considered.

Other officials had said earlier this week that an option under consideration called for deploying between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Gulf area, but no decisions had been made. Esper’s comments seemed to cast doubt on that option.

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