The US is considering a deployment of up to 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force in the fight against Islamic State as US-backed fighters accelerate the offensive in Syria and Iraq, Reuters reports, citing US officials.
Proponents of the option, which has not been previously reported, said it would provide US commanders on the ground greater flexibility to quickly respond to unforeseen opportunities and challenges on the battlefield.
It would also represent a step away from standard practices under President Barack Obama’s administration by leaving the ultimate decision on whether to deploy some of those Kuwait-based reserve forces in Syria or Iraq to local commanders.
“This is about providing options,” said one US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The officials said the deployment would differ from the existing US troop presence in Kuwait.
It was unclear whether the proposal had the support of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who could opt to use other tools to give commanders more agility.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis declined to comment on options being weighed by the Trump administration.
Obama’s administration was often accused of micromanaging even the smallest tactical details about the fight against Islamic State, weighing in on the use of helicopters or movement of small numbers of US forces.
It also set limits on US deployments that would be adjusted incrementally, a strategy meant to avoid mission creep by the military and prevent military moves that might seem good on the battlefield but which could have inadvertent diplomatic or political consequences. Such limits are now under scrutiny.
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