The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday night that the Trump administration is considering a plan to significantly expand "the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East," including the deployment of "as many as 14,000 additional troops." The pushback from Donald Trump and the Pentagon, however, was categorical: the reporting, they said, was "wrong."
Yesterday, however, a top Pentagon official, Undersecretary of Defense John Rood, was on Capitol Hill, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that 14,000 additional troops have already been deployed to the region this year, and more may be on the way.
"We haven't made a decision yet," Mr. 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." [...]Ms. Blackburn then asked Mr. Rood whether additional forces were being considered, or whether the Pentagon might send fewer than 14,000. "Yes," he responded."We are evaluating the threat situations," he said. "We will need to make dynamic adjustments to our posture."
Also yesterday afternoon, a reporter asked the president about the possibility of increased troop deployments to the Middle East. "We'll announce -- whatever we do, we'll announce," Trump replied. "But certainly, there might be a threat. And if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly."
Of course, these possible deployments would follow the additional deployments from earlier this year. The Associated Press added in a report yesterday, "President Donald Trump has approved those increases, even though he also routinely insists that he is pulling U.S. troops out of the Middle East and withdrawing from what he calls 'endless wars' against extremists."
The New York Times had a related report along these lines in October, noting that there are more American troops in the Middle East now than when Trump took office nearly three years ago.
President Trump has repeatedly promised to end what he calls America's "endless wars," fulfilling a promise he made during the campaign.No wars have ended, though, and more troops have deployed to the Middle East in recent months than have come home. Mr. Trump is not so much ending wars, as he is moving troops from one conflict to another.
It seems like ages ago, but in 2016, many were led to believe that Trump's penchant for isolationism would mean a vastly reduced U.S. military presence around the world, especially in the Middle East. Maureen Dowd's unfortunate "Donald the Dove" column in April 2016 reflected the chatter in some political circles at the time about the kind of Commander in Chief the Republican would be if elected.
The reality, we now know, proved to be quite different.