President Trump had made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and if Reuters' sources are to be believed, the administration is weighing a deployment of up to 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force in the fight against Islamic State as U.S.-backed fighters accelerate the offensive in Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon has so far declined to comment on the leak.
After The House passed the $578 Billion defense bill (for the rest of FY17) this afternoon, Reuters reports that the decision on whether to create a more rapidly deployable Kuwait-based force is part of the ongoing review of the United States' strategy to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where around 6,000 U.S. troops are deployed, largely in advisory roles, the officials said. Proponents of the US troop deployment option, which has not been previously reported, said it would provide U.S. commanders on the ground greater flexibility to quickly respond to unforeseen opportunities and challenges on the battlefield. It would also represent a step away from standard practices under President Barack Obama's administration by leaving the ultimate decision on whether to deploy some of those Kuwait-based reserve forces in Syria or Iraq to local commanders.
"This is about providing options," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The officials said the deployment would differ from the existing U.S. troop presence in Kuwait.
It was unclear whether the proposal had the support of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who could opt to use other tools to give commanders more agility.
US officials have so far played down expectations of a major escalation or dramatic shift in a strategy that has focused on training and advising local ground forces.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis declined to comment on options being weighed by the Trump administration.