US considers plan to deploy 120,000 troops in event of Iran clash
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 troops would also be sent if Iran accelerated work on their nuclear project, the New York Times reported, towards what Washington would classify as progress on building a nuclear bomb.
The plan, however, revised by hardline aide to Mr Trump and national security adviser John R Bolton, 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.
The US’s first foray into the Middle East saw some 540,000 US personnel 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 located 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.
Although still just a plan, 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 about Iran’s activities. “If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We’ll see what happens with Iran.”
Earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held urgent talks with his European foreign ministers in Brussels to shore up allied backing for Washington.