AP sources: Pentagon proposing troop buildup in the Mideast

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, U.S. officials said.

The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it's not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces. Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans have not been formally announced.

Thursday morning's meeting comes as tensions with Iran continue to simmer, and it wasn't clear if a decision would be made during the session. Any move to deploy more forces to the Middle East would signal a shift for President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce America's troop presence in the region.

U.S. officials have provided few details about possible Iranian threats but indicated they initially involved missiles loaded onto small Iranian boats. This week officials said the missiles have been taken off the boats near Iran's shore, but other maritime threats continue.

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Soldiers and their military working dogs
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Soldiers and their military working dogs
An American soldier pets 5-year-old Eggy, an explosives sniffing dog in Seprwan Ghar forward fire base Panjwai district of Kandahar province June 26, 2011. The pair of handler and dog work in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, long a Taliban stronghold. Both animals and handlers face the same dangers as the soldiers they work to protect. Picture taken June 26, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY ANIMALS)
Croatian Dog handler Sinisa Erkman plays with 5-year-old Eggy, an explosives sniffing dog in Seprwan Ghar forward fire base Panjwai district of Kandahar province, June 26, 2011. The pair work in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, long a Taliban stronghold. Both animals and handlers face the same dangers as the soldiers they work to protect. Picture taken June 26, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY ANIMALS)
A veteran embraces his service dog during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Croatian Dog handler Sinisa Erkman plays with 5-year-old Eggy, an explosives sniffing dog in Seprwan Ghar forward fire base Panjwai district of Kandahar province, June 26, 2011. The pair work in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, long a Taliban stronghold. Both animals and handlers face the same dangers as the soldiers they work to protect. Picture taken June 26, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY ANIMALS)
A U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico as part of exercise Emerald Warrior 2011 in this U.S. military handout image from March 1, 2011. The New York Times and other United States media have reported that a military canine accompanied Navy SEAL Team Six commandos into a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in a raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. REUTERS/Manuel J. Martinez/U.S. Air Force/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANIMALS MILITARY CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
This photograph taken August 15, 2011 shows US Army Specialist Justin Coletti of US Forces Afghanistan K-9 combat tracker team resting with Dasty, a Belgian Malinois at an airfield of Forward Operating Base Pasab following a five-hour overnight air assault mission with Bravo Company, 2-87 Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Maiwand district, Kandahar province. Dasty who has a rank of a Sergeant, is a military working dog trained to patrol and locate a target individual and is currently deployed in southern Afghanistan saving lives of coalition forces in its war against Taliban insurgents. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
BALA MURGHAB, BADGHIS PROVINCE - JUNE 29: Sgt John Barton of the 4th Brigade of the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division pets his platoon's pet dog Ray-Ray as he awakens from sleeping outside at combat outpost Impala June 29, 2010 in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan. Many US troops in Afghanistan sleep in the outdoors in the summer due to the stifling overnight heat. The 82nd Airborne along with NATO Italian troops have been working for nearly a year in this combative zone in the far northwest of the country near the Turkmenistan border, attempting to pacify and extend the Afghanistan central government rule to this rural and fiercely independent area rife with Taliban insurgents. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
BALA MURGHAB, BADGHIS PROVINCE - JUNE 29: Sgt. John Barton of the 4th Brigade of the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division pets his platoon's pet dog Ray-Ray as he awakens from sleeping outside at combat outpost Impala June 29, 2010 in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan. Many US troops in Afghanistan sleep in the outdoors in the summer due to the stifling overnight heat. The 82nd Airborne along with NATO Italian troops have been working for nearly a year in this combative zone in the far northwest of the country near the Turkmenistan border, attempting to pacify and extend the Afghanistan central government rule to this rural and fiercely independent area rife with Taliban insurgents. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
400553 04: Lance Cpl. Joshua A. Moose and his military working dog Hertha, show the strong bond between them during a break in training February 1, 2002 at the Marine Depot in San Diego, California. (Photo by Christopher A. Raper/U.S. Marine Corp./Getty Images)
A Colombian Army Special Forces soldier rappels with a dog during a military exercise during the visit of US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon at a military base in Tolemaida, Colombia, on October 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Guillermo LEGARIA (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images)
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 3: Lance Corporal Marianne Hay, 24 from Aberdeenshire, a soldier in the Royal Army Veterinary Corp and her arms and explosives dog Leanna attached to the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment rest as they wait to leave for strike operation Southern Beast on August 3, 2008 at their base at the Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The British Army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment spearheaded a strike operation in the Maywand District of the Kandahar Province, setting the conditions for a permanent ISAF presence to support the Afghan National Government in their fight against the Taliban. Striking within one of Afghanistan's major opium producing areas the Paratroopers were looking for weapons, drugs, and individuals related to the Taliban. During the operation about seventy kilograms of opium was seized and some weapons were recovered. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)
NANJING, CHINA - JANUARY 28: (CHINA OUT) A police dog and its trainer practise skipping at a police dog training base on January 28, 2006, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. 2006 is the Chinese year of dog (Photo by VCG via Getty Images)
Soldiers of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) salute as they perform with their dogs before a dog training competition, in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, August 16, 2016. Picture taken August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.
An Israeli soldier kisses a dog at a staging area near the border with Gaza August 3, 2014. Israel on Sunday declared dead soldier Hadar Goldin, feared abducted by Hamas Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip and said it would continue to fight even after the army completes destroying cross-border tunnels used by Palestinian fighters to attack its territory. Hamas' armed wing said on Saturday it had no clear indication on Goldin's whereabouts and that he may have been killed during an ambush in the southern Gaza Strip in which two other Israeli soldiers were killed. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (ISRAEL - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY CONFLICT ANIMALS)
A U.S. soldier gives his guard dog water at the Kandahar Air Base, December 8, 2013. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel traveled to the base to thank the troops for their dedication and for being deployed during the holiday season. REUTERS/Mark Wilson/Pool (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: MILITARY ANIMALS)
Military working dog Quin the seven-year-old cocker spaniel sneaks a cheeky kiss from his handler Lance Corporal Stu Downer, 1 Military Working Dogs, 30, from Kent as he takes a break from training on Salisbury Plain as 7th Armoured Brigade prepare to deploy to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 19.
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Sending more troops could also raise questions on Capitol Hill. During back-to-back closed briefings for the House and Senate on Tuesday, defense leaders told congressional officials the U.S. doesn't want to go to war with Iran and wants to de-escalate the situation.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers the U.S. is seeking to deter, not provoke, Iran, even while accusing Tehran of threatening U.S. interests in the Mideast. Shanahan told reporters, "Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation."

Many in Congress are skeptical of the administration's approach to Iran, questioning whether it is responding to significant new Iranian threats or escalating a situation that could lead to war.

CNN first reported that the Pentagon will brief the White House on a plan that could send thousands of additional U.S. troops to the Middle East.

Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment, saying, "As a matter of long-standing policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential or alleged future operations or plans."

In early May, the U.S. accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Mideast and sent four B-52 bomber aircraft to the region. The Pentagon also decided to move a Patriot air-defense missile battery to an undisclosed country in the area.

The Trump administration has evacuated nonessential personnel from Iraq, amid unspecified threats the administration said are linked to Iranian-backed militias in the country.

On Sunday, a rocket was fired into Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, landing less than a mile from the sprawling U.S. Embassy. There were no injuries and no group claimed responsibility, but the rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad — which is home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Some Democrats say Trump is responsible for drawing Iran's ire. Last year he abruptly pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated during the Obama administration to prevent Iran from nuclear weapons production, without crafting a coherent strategy for how to combat other Iranian behavior like supporting extremist organizations. He also has reimposed punishing sanctions that have crippled Tehran's economy and designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization in April.

"I have yet to see any exhibited strategy," said Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, a former CIA officer. She said she finds many of the administration's recent statements on Iran to be "deeply troubling."

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