The White House is set to mull a Pentagon plan for deployment of 10,000 new troops to the Middle East on Thursday following heightened tension with Iran, the AP reported Wednesday.
It's as yet unclear whether President Trump will sign off on the full number, but the White House is expected to send at least some of the requested forces, the report noted, citing anonymous defense official sources.
According to the Associated Press report the plan calls for "defensive forces" to "monitor" the Iran threat:
Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran.
Though at the start of this week there appeared a calming of war rhetoric out of Washington, with the president signalling that Iran's leaders should "call me," the situation remains highly volatile and dangerous, considering a US carrier strike group is in the region along with B-52 bombers flying over and near the Persian Gulf, based out of Qatar.
Iran military leaders also issued new threats earlier this week over their "full control" over the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow vital oil shipping choke point in the Persian Gulf.
The statements, according to Reuters, came as tensions reached their highest, but simultaneous to the Pentagon signalling there's no plan to go to war:
A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Wednesday that Guards and regular Iranian military forces had complete control of Gulf waters north of the Strait of Hormuz, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“Everything north of the Strait of Hormuz is under our control,” Ali Fadavi was quoted by Fars as saying, referring to the strait at the Gulf’s eastern end through which about a fifth of the oil that is consumed globally flows.
“(Movements of) American battleships in the region are under the complete control of Iran’s army and the Revolutionary Guards,” Fadavi told Fars, without providing details.
Moreover, it must be remembered that earlier this year the US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization, which could result in a clash between the elite force as it patrols the Strait of Hormuz and any US vessel also patrolling the area.
Also on Wednesday Senate Democrats attempted to reign in any potential White House military action directed against Iran, introducing a bill to requiring Congressional approval before the president acts. However, it was defeated in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.