Middle East Force Structure Uncertain

The Pentagon hasn’t decided how many troops will be based in the Persian Gulf region after the official withdrawal from Iraq at year’s end, but officials say the US will definitely maintain a presence in the region just as it has since World War II. “We’re still working through the decision process,” said Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations. “There’s been no final decision made on any additional force presence anywhere.” Formal plans have not even been presented to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or President Obama. Kirby said any future force structure decisions will be based on security commitments the US has made in the region and will not be “aimed at any one particular threat … but rather aimed towards our very serious commitments to security and stability in that part of the world.” (AFPS release by Jim Garamone)