A Pentagon spokesman today stated that the U.S. will continue to station troops in the Gulf region and that nothing has been finalized about future troop levels with partners in the region, but added that he could not confirm that plans are already underway to boost troop levels in Kuwait.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today, “Our goal at the end of the day is to promote stability in the Middle East and we expect to continue to have strong mil-to-mil relationships with countries in the region to include Iraq, to include Kuwait, to include others.”
The announcement followed a New York Times report this weekend that the U.S. has plans underway to bolster its military presence in the Gulf region after the troop pullout from Iraq.
The most likely area for the U.S. to place additional troops in the region would be Kuwait, where the U.S. already has 23,000 troops supporting military operations in Iraq. Little said he was unaware of any formal plan that had been presented to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or the White House regarding troop levels in Kuwait.
During several town hall meetings in Asia last week, Panetta repeated the message that the U.S. was committed to the region.
“At the same time, for Iran and anybody else who has any other ideas, let me make clear that the United States maintains 40,000 troops in that region, 23,000 in Kuwait, and numbers of others in countries throughout that region” he said.
“One thing’s for sure, we’re going to maintain a presence in the Gulf region,” said Little. “ We have enduring commitments in that part of the world, and those commitments remain a priority.”
Defense Department spokesman Capt. John Kirby also noted today that the U.S. has had a commitment to the region since World War II, though he said it was not directed at one particular threat.
“We anticipate we’re going to continue to have a force presence in the Middle East going forward, but what it looks like, where it all is, we’re still working our way through that,” he said.