President Donald Trump said his administration would not need to send more troops to the Middle East to defend against Iranian threats, Reuters reported.
“We’ll see what happens with Iran. I don’t think we’re going to need them. I really don’t,” the president told reporters Thursday, May 23.
“I would certainly send troops if we need them,” he said, adding that in case of need, the number of troops would be “whatever.”
His statement is a denial to recent reports by mainstream media, which cited anonymous sources as saying that the administration would send somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 troops to the Middle East.
President Trump has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce the number of U.S. troops around the world.
Trump made the statement shortly before he was to be briefed on a new deployment plan by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at the White House, where Pentagon chief said sending additional troops to the Middle East is a way to bolster protection for American forces there amid tensions with Iran.
“What we’re looking at is: Are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East?” Shanahan said. “It may involve sending additional troops.”
But before the briefing, Shanahan had also denied rumors that thousands of American troops could be sent to the Middle East to defend against potential threats by Iran.
“There is no 10,000. There’s no 5,000. That’s not accurate,” VOA News cited Shanahan as saying.