The Pentagon isn’t always honest about troop levels overseas, but their quarterly reports have shown a precipitous rise in ground troop deployments across the Middle East since June. Perhaps most interestingly, these deployments came entirely after the announced escalations in Iraq and Syria had already taken place.
US troop levels are up some 33% across the 14 nations included in the report, and rose in every single one of those countries. This spans a region covering all nations from Turkey to Egypt, down to Yemen, and over to Iraq and Kuwait.
The largest deployments are some of the most surprising, with the US presence in Qatar more than double over the past report (3,164 to 6,671), and nearly tripled in the United Arab Emirates (1,531 to 4,240). It is particularly noteworthy that troops continued to be added to nations in which seemingly nothing is happening, like Oman and Lebanon, suggesting the US is determined to just escalate everywhere at all times.
These figures are likely under-counts, as the latest report had 1,723 troops in Syria, while Pentagon officials had recently told reporters the figure was close to 4,000. The troop levels in Iraq and Syria have often been artificial lowered in official reports.
This report of figures doesn’t include Afghanistan, but it is to be assumed that troop levels there have risen at least as much, since this period of time includes the actual escalation of the war there, in which 3,800 troops were reportedly sent so far.
Though troop levels from country to country are intended to be a matter of public record, this is not always the case, and a substantial number of US troops have been listed in official publications as deployed into unspecified locations. It is this way in which African deployments, including some 1,000 US troops in Niger, have happened without public scrutiny.
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