Pentagon Officials Say No Actual Plan Exists for Iran War

Officials lack detailed data to even try to produce such a plan

US military officials involved in planning wars in the Middle East say that despite all the talk of buildups against Iran, there exist no actual, executable plans for a large scale troop deployment into the Middle East, let alone for confronting Iran.

John Bolton is known to have been pushing for the Pentagon to create such a plan, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented a “preliminary outline” of a 120,000 US troops plan on May 9.

But a plan to show some politicians and an executable plan are wildly different things. The inner workings of a real plan require a time-phased force and deployment list, and making one of these down to the last detail would take several months.

Even then, the list wouldn’t be in progress as it is, because officials say they don’t have any of the detailed data on what sort of war this is supposed to be, whether they’re fighting Iran or just random Shi’ite militias, whether the fighting is in Iraq, or someplace else, etc.

The public of course hasn’t been privy to any solid intelligence on any of that, but the reality that the Pentagon is as much in the dark as the rest of us really damages the credibility of hawks claiming secret intelligence of Iranian threats.

The 120,000 troops plan, therefore, doesn’t really exist beyond a vague outline, and has already been disavowed by President Trump, who said he’d send a “hell of a lot more” troops if he was attacking Iran for real. Fortunately, it looks like attacking Iran for real remains, at least for now, a pipe dream.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.