Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

US 'considers plan to deploy 120,000 troops in event of Iran clash'

The leaked plan does not indicate whether the US would be willing to invade

President Donald Trump (left) and national security adviser John Bolton (right) are reviewing revamped plans that could result in the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East. AFP 
President Donald Trump (left) and national security adviser John Bolton (right) are reviewing revamped plans that could result in the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East. AFP 

US President Donald Trump has received a plan from some of his top aides that suggests sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked US troops, the New York Times reported.

The troops would also be sent if Iran accelerated work on their nuclear project, towards what Washington would classify as progress on building a nuclear bomb, the newspaper said on Tuesday.

However Mr Trump later described the report as “fake news.” He said he would “absolutely” be willing to send troops, but that he has not planned for that, and if he was going to “we’d send a hell of a lot more”

The plan which was briefed to the New York Times was reportedly revised by the national security adviser John R Bolton. It does not call for a land invasion of Iran.

In 2016, the US had 193,000 military personnel deployed overseas, with another 1.3 million active duty and some 17 million citizens their constitution labels as available for military service.

The deployment of 120,000 troops would take approximately one month to complete. The majority of the troops would likely be stationed in military bases around the Gulf.

In the US's first foray into the Middle East, about 540,000 US personnel were deployed, accompanied by another 200,000 from a 35-country coalition, to rebuff Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia and other bases in allied countries in the Middle East and faced 300,000 of Saddam Hussein’s troops that were occupying Kuwait.

A decade later, the war in Afghanistan led the US military to deploy 60,000 troops in the first year of what would become the US's longest standing war.

That figure swelled to 98,000, and Nato provided the majority of the coalition force having deployed 130,000 troops at its peak.

Shortly afterwards, the US-led coalition sent almost 80,000 troops to invade Iraq, with another 90,000 troops sent as reinforcements. Many were deployed to Kuwait, a key US ally, before entering Iraq through the northern border.

The number of military personnel required to launch a land invasion has decreased in recent years due to improved military technology and the effectiveness of aerial attacks.

The US invasion formula is often executed through heavy air strike bombardment, followed by co-ordinated land deployments to dominate key strategic areas.

Mr Trump’s general policy towards the Middle East has been disengagement. Washington has ordered troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria during the president's administration.

"I’m hearing little stories about Iran," Mr Trump said when asked earlier about Iran’s activities. "If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We’ll see what happens with Iran."

On Monday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with his European foreign ministers in Brussels to shore up allied backing for Washington.

Updated: May 14, 2019 08:09 PM

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