US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper tweeted Tuesday that, at "the direction of the Commander in Chief", he had authorized the immediate deployment of additional forces to the Middle East to mitigate what he characterized as "increased threat levels against" American personnel.
...and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today. The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world.— Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) 1 January 2020
Esper also said that an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) would be deployed.
At the direction of the Commander in Chief @POTUS, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the @82ndABNDiv to the @CENTCOM area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq.— Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) 1 January 2020
The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the "empty" accusations of the Trump administration, and called on the White House to cease its "destructive policies" in the Middle East.
As many as 4,000 US servicemen are reportedly on standby for possible deployment to the region, Fox News said, adding that hundreds of paratroopers are already en route to the region.
According to the media report, at least 5,000 soldiers are currently stationed in Iraq, assisting the Baghdad security forces. US forces in the region number around 60,000, according to Fox News.