"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.
"We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump added. "It'll be about 1,500 people."
The deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, engineers, and the extension of the presence of a Patriot missile defense battalion that accounts for 600 of the personnel.
Those have included a rocket attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers in Fujairah at the entrance to the Gulf, and a Houthi drone attack against a Saudi oil installation.
"We view this as a campaign," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.
Gilday stressed that the expanded US military presence in the region, including an aircraft carrier task force, B-52 bombers, and an amphibious attack vessel deployed earlier this month, are defensive and meant to address an alleged ongoing threat from Iran.
"We think that through a combination of a very measured deployment of assets as well as public messaging, we are again trying to underscore that we are not seeking hostilities with Iran.
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