WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – There are persistent reports that the White House and Pentagon are working on plans to send thousands more U.S. troops to the Middle East. Communities around military bases watch and wait, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
Military leaders confirm the Defense Department is considering plans to send additional troops to the Middle East. Officials say the plans are a response to heightened tensions with Iran.
“What we’re looking at, there are things that we can do to enhance force protection,” said Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.
He said there are conversations but, so far, no decisions about deploying more troops.
Georgia Republican Congressman Buddy Carter supports the administration’s actions so far.
“The president has made it clear that he does not want a war with Iran and, hopefully, we can take care of this diplomatically,” he said.
But some Democrats, including Senator Tammy Duckworth, fear the president’s national security advisor, John Bolton, is intent on provoking Iran.
“I think this march toward conflict with Iran is really being driven by Mr. Bolton and that, really, is deeply concerning to me,” Duckworth said.
Congressman Donald McEachin wants to make sure Congress weighs in on any military action.
“The president understands he cannot declare war without coming to us,” he said.
Defense leaders say they’re committed to updating Congress about the situation in Iran and whether more troops are needed.
Administration officials say their goal is to prevent future threats without going to war.
“We know that the maximum pressure campaign is working,” said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “You can see that by the crumbling economy that they have and we’ll see what happens from there. We’re going to keep all of our options on the table.”
Pentagon officials say they want to protect American interests, as well as the safety of troops.