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Dec. 5, 2019, 3:34 p.m. EST

Pentagon official concedes bigger Mideast troop deployment is on table

Reverses earlier statement in Senate testimony that Wall Street Journal report was wrong

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By Nancy A. Youssef and Gordon Lubold


Associated Press
Undersecretary of Defense John Rood.

A top Pentagon official told senators that U.S. military officials are considering bolstering the U.S. force presence in the Middle East to counter threats from Iran following a significant buildup throughout the year.

John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the Pentagon had sent 14,000 additional troops this year and was considering additional forces, but wouldn’t say how many.

“We haven’t made a decision yet,” Rood said under questioning by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.). “Based on what we are seeing ... it is possible we would need to adjust our force posture. I think that would be a prudent step, depending on what we observe, because our objective is to deter Iranian aggression.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing U.S. officials, reported Wednesday that the Pentagon was considering as many as 14,000 additional troops to respond to potential Iranian threats, and that a decision could come later this month. President Trump also could approve a smaller deployment, the officials said.

Earlier in his testimony Thursday, Rood had called the Journal report erroneous.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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