While presenting proposals to the White House, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Thursday, May 23, that they are looking at things to enhance force protection in the Middle East, which may involve sending additional troops as a deterrence but not to provoke war. He continued to indicate that the mission is freedom of navigation, counterterrorism in Syria and Iraq, defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen and the security of Israel and Jordan.
The acting US Secretary of Defense said, “I just want to make a couple of comments about the process. There is no 10,000 and there’s no 5,000. That’s not accurate. What I can tell you is that I’m in regular contact with General Frank McKenzie Commander of U.S. Central Command and I’ll be meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then I have some other briefings to do.”
A reporter at the press conference asked, “Many lawmakers say the U.S. is provoking a military conflict with Iran. What’s your response?”
To which the acting secretary replied, “Well my response is I think they have the same sensitivities as all of us. And that is, we want to avoid the risk of Iranian miscalculation. So yeah I think those are unfair comments. Our job is deterrence. This is not about war. We have a mission there in the Middle East. Freedom of navigation, counterterrorism in Syria and Iraq, and defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen, and then the security of Israel and Jordan.”
Shanahan continued with, “As soon as we have something to talk about, we’ll tell you. But numbers get floated out there and you’ve got lots of good sources of information. What I’m telling you is the sources right now aren’t feeding you the right information and as soon as anything changes I’ll let you know. I really will. Like I said earlier, there’s no 5,000 number and there’s no 10,000 number … and it (our plans) may involve sending additional troops.”
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.