The Pentagon will further beef up its military assets in the Persian Gulf to counter what U.S. officials have called “credible” threats from Iran, a U.S. official told USA Today.
The additional deployments will include fewer than 3,000 troops, according to an official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an operation that had not been announced. Most of the troops will be involved in intelligence gathering and manning missile batteries.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan signaled the move on Thursday, telling reporters that additional deployments might be required to protect U.S. forces and interests in the Middle East. The move comes as the administration is seeking to increase pressure on Iran.
The decision to send more military assets comes shortly after the Pentagon sped up the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier, along with B-52 bombers, Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and the amphibious assault ship USS Arlington, to the Persian Gulf. Those assets were requested by Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, in response to U.S. intelligence information indicating that Iran may be preparing an attack on American troops or other interests in the region.
Shanahan and other Trump administration officials have said previous military deployments are purely defensive and not intended to provoke a war with Iran.
“Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation,” Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday after briefing members of Congress. “We do not want the situation to escalate. This is about deterrence, not about war.”