Pentagon officials are expected to meet with members of the White House national security team as soon as Thursday to discuss a plan, CNN reported citing three US officials familiar with the matter. The officials underscored that no final decision has been made about a potential deployment, according to CNN.
According to AP, the Pentagon will present plans to the White House for the deployment of about 10,000 troops to the Middle East. Meanwhile, a Reuters report said, citing two US officials, that the Pentagon is considering a US military request to send about 5,000 additional troops to the Middle East.
The officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity with Reuters, that the request had been made by US Central Command, adding that it was not clear whether the DoD would approve the request. The Pentagon regularly receives, and declines, requests from the combatant commands around the world for additional resources, according to Reuters.
On Tuesday, Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters that the United States had no interest in escalating tensions with Iran or going to war with the Middle Eastern country.
"Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation. We do not want the situation to escalate. This is about deterrence, not about war. We are not about going to war. This is about continuing to protect our interests in the Middle East", Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday.
Shanahan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other top defence and security officials were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to provide closed-door briefings to the Senate and the House of Representatives on Iranian threats and steps the Trump administration is taking to protect its interests in the Middle East.
US-Iranian tensions first flared up last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and started reinstating sanctions. On 8 May, Iran announced its decision to partially discontinue its obligations under the nuclear agreement.
On the same day, Iran gave nuclear deal signatories – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the European Union – an ultimatum, saying it would step up uranium enrichment in 60 days if they did not shield Tehran from sanctions imposed by the United States after Washington quit the pact last year.
Tehran said that these measures were taken in response to Washington violating the JCPOA.