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Defense chief: U.S. may send more troops to Middle East

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May 24 (UPI) — Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said the Trump administration is considering sending additional troops to the Middle East to combat rising tensions with Iran.

Shanahan told reporters before a ceremony with Vietnam‘s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Thursday that the military is looking to reinforce its position in the Middle East, which “may involve sending additional troops.”

The United States deployed the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock ship, a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery and the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Middle Easter earlier this month due to tensions that have been rising between the United States and Iran since late April.

Shanahan‘s comment comes in response to reports that the Pentagon presented the White House with a request for 10,000 additional troops to be sent to the Middle East.

“I got up this morning and read that we were sending 10,000 troops to the Middle East, and then I read more recently there was 5,000 … There is no 10,000 and there’s no 5,000 and that — that’s not accurate,” he said.

Shanahan added that he is in regular contact with U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie and that he will be meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford to discuss the situation.

“What we’re looking at is are there things we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East?” he said.

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