President Trump approved the deployment of an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East on Friday, indicating that their role would be "mostly protective" and they would provide assistance to troops already stationed in the region. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan emphasized those plans.
"The additional deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility is a prudent defensive measure and intended to reduce the possibility of future hostilities," Shanahan said. "I remain committed to ensuring U.S. personnel have the force protection resources they need and deserve."
Still, the administration is not finding support from Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Paul tweeted his concerns and implored the commander in chief to listen to the angel on the other side of his shoulder.
I strongly urge @realdonaldtrump to reconsider more troops to the Middle East. This escalation doesn’t get us out of our decades long, seemingly endless wars Mr. President. Trust your instincts and follow what you ran on, not the neocons around who want to repeat past mistakes.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 24, 2019
The "neocons" Paul is referring to could include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, long known as a Washington hawk. The Guardian recently accused Bolton, who previously served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration and was a leading influence behind the Iraq War, of trying to drive the U.S. to war with Iran as well.
The president's announcement comes days after Iran sent the U.S. an alarming warning. It was more than a rhetorical threat, according to Pentagon officials, who called it "credible."
When a rocket landed near Baghdad's Green Zone and the U.S. embassy earlier this month, Trump said Iran should cease its aggressive behavior or expect the worst.
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
Last year, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement with Iran, which he said had been based on "the lie" that Iran wanted "a peaceful, nuclear energy program."