U.S. military explores plan to deploy 120K troops to the Middle East as tensions with Iran intensify

  • The US military briefed President Donald Trump's national-security aides on a revamped plan that could result in the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, according to national-security officials cited in a New York Times report published Monday.
  • The plan calls for the deployment in the event that Iran either attacks US forces or ramps up its nuclear-weapons program, several unnamed US officials told The Times.
  • The plan does not indicate whether the US troops would invade Iran, the newspaper reported.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US military briefed President Donald Trump's national-security aides on a revamped plan that could result in the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, according to national-security officials cited in a New York Times report published Monday.

The reported plan calls for the deployment of troops in the event that Iran either attacks US forces or ramps up its nuclear-weapons program, several unnamed US officials told The Times.

The plan does not indicate whether US troops would invade Iran, the newspaper said. The number of troops deployed to the Middle East would be close to the roughly 130,600 service members deployed to Iraq in 2003.

The latest blueprint is an updated version of a destabilizing cyberwarfare operation called "Nitro Zeus," which would target Iran's power grid and military. Some officials reportedly said the plan was updated in past years and the latest changes were influenced by national security adviser John Bolton, a hawkish foreign policy adviser.

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

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Donald Trump visits a military tank plant in Lima, Ohio
US President Donald Trump disembarks from Air Force One upon arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, on March 20, 2019, after traveling to Ohio to visit a military manufacturing facility and attend a fundraiser. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, center, speaks at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures to attendees at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees listen while U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, speaks at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump speaks after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant at Joint Systems Manufacturing in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees stand during the Pledge of Allegiance at an event with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jon Husted, lieutenant governor of Ohio, speaks during an event with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump applauds while arriving to speak at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while arriving to speak at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday visited a thriving military factory in politically vital Ohio, a symbol of his success at enlarging the U.S. defense budget, as he sought to turn attention from his inability to return jobs to a failing car plant elsewhere in the state. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One prior to departure from Lima Allen County Airport in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019, as he travels to visit a military manufacturing facility and attend a fundraiser. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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News of the plan comes amid increased tensions between the US and Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicated he would scuttle his country's nuclear deal after President Donald Trump withdrew and more US sanctions were slapped against Iran.

US defense officials also cited "indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces" earlier in May. Israeli intelligence officials uncovered a potential attack against US interests, which fueled Bolton's "unrelenting" rhetoric toward the Iranians, Axios reported.

Another CNN report citing US officials suggested that a potential attack would have targeted US forces in Syria and Iraq.

In a show of force, the US deployed several military assets to the region. A carrier strike group and bomber task force were sent to the Middle East to "send a clear and unmistakable message."

Iran responded by downplaying the threat and claimed the US "wouldn't dare to launch military action against us."

"If [the Americans] make a move, we will hit them in the head," Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Amirali Hajizadeh reportedly said.

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SEE ALSO: 2nd-highest ranking US military officer reportedly slammed his hands on table after growing tired of John Bolton's aides at fiery meeting

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