The US may send more troops to confront the mysterious Iran threat, Pentagon reveals

US Army War In IraqU.S. Army Pfc. Jacob Paxson and Pfc. Antonio Espiricueta, both from Company B (&quotDeath Dealers"), 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, attached to Task Force 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, provide security from a street corner during a foot patrol in Tameem, Ramadi, Iraq.Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock/US Air Force

  • Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan revealed Thursday that the Department of Defense is considering sending additional troops to the Middle East to confront Iran.
  • It is unclear how many troops could be headed that way, though.
  • Just as President Donald Trump rejected a New York Times report that his administration was considering sending 120,000 troops into the region, Shanahan rejected reports from Reuters and the Associated Press suggesting that the Pentagon intended to send 5,000 and 10,000 troops respectively.
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Amid reports that the US could send anywhere from 5,000 to 120,000 additional troops to the Middle East to confront Iran, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan offered the first public confirmation Thursday that additional manpower may be needed.

Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday that the Department of Defense is looking at ways to "enhance force protection," explaining that this "may involve sending additional troops," CNN reported.

Exactly how many troops could be headed that way remains unclear.

The New York Times reported a little over a week ago that the Trump administration was considering sending as many as 120,000 US troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran. Trump called report "fake news" the following day but warned that if Iran wants to fight, he'll send "a hell of a lot more troops than that."

Read more: Trump says he'd send 'a hell of a lot more' than 120,000 troops to fight Iran if it came to that

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Pentagon intends to move 5,000 troops into the Middle East to counter Iran. The Associated Press said the number could be as high as 10,000.

Shanahan refuted these reports Thursday while declining to say how many more troops may be required. "I woke up this morning and read that we were sending 10,000 troops to the Middle East and read more recently there was 5,000…There is no 10,000, and there is no 5,000. That's not accurate," he said, according to Voice of America.

The US has already sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, a task force of B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers, an amphibious assault vessel, and an air-and-missile defense battery to the US Central Command area of responsibility.

Read more: The US is sending a ton of firepower to take on Iran - here's everything headed its way

These assets were deployed in response to what CENTCOM called "clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region." The exact nature of the threat is unclear, as the Pentagon has yet to publicly explain the threat.

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