President Donald Trump has opposed the proposal of the US military to deploy additional forces in the Middle East to counter Iran.
“I don’t think we’re going to need them. I really don’t,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “I would certainly send troops if we need them.”
If needed, “we’ll be there in whatever number we need”, he added.
Trump comments cast doubt a Pentagon plan to bolster forces in the region.
Trump, who has been focused on trying to reduce the number of US troops deployed around the world, spoke shortly before he was to be briefed at the White House on a new deployment plan by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Shanahan said the Pentagon was considering sending additional US troops to the Middle East as one of the ways to bolster protection for US forces there amid tensions with Iran.
“What we’re looking at is: are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East?” Shanahan said. “It may involve sending additional troops.”
But Shanahan, in remarks to reporters outside the Pentagon, dismissed reports suggesting specific numbers of troops were being considered at this point, saying: “As soon as there’s a change, I’ll give you an update.”
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been steadily escalating in recent weeks as Trump tightens sanctions meant to cut off Iran’s ability to sell oil in global markets.