Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated plan to President Trump’s top national security aides that potentially sends as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks U.S. forces or accelerates its work on nuclear weapons, The New York Times reports. National Security Adviser John Bolton ordered Shanahan to update the plan, which was presented at a meeting last week and does not call for a land invasion of Iran. Deploying the 120,000 troops was reportedly the “uppermost option” of the plan, and it was estimated to take “weeks or months” to execute. While the plan was presented, it is not clear if Trump was briefed on the plan’s details or if he would support it. Spokesmen for Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly declined to comment. Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, told the newspaper on Monday the U.S. “does not seek war with Iran” but said the administration would be “ready to defend U.S. personnel and interests in the region.”
One hundred twenty thousand troops is “approaching” the number of troops deployed when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the Times reports. When Trump was asked if he wanted regime change Iran, he told reporters Monday that he’ll “see what happens” in the country. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake,” he said.