United States officials told Reuters that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing a deployment of up to 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force in the fight against extremist as U.S.-backed fighters accelerate the offensive in Syria and Iraq.
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 U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The officials said the deployment would differ from the existing U.S. troop presence in Kuwait. It was unclear whether the proposal had the support of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who could opt to use other tools to give commanders more agility. Proponents of the option, which has not been previously reported, said it would provide U.S. commanders on the ground greater flexibility to quickly respond to unforeseen opportunities and challenges on the battlefield. It also set limits on U.S. 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.