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Democrats call for updates on US troop deployments

Senior Democratic leadership penned a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley requesting more information on troop deployment to the Middle East.

Written by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the letter asks that the Department of Defense “correct the few, incomplete, and evasive updates that the Department has provided, as well as make clear to the chain of command that they may only execute lawful orders.”

The letter cites the deployment of roughly 4,500 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force and an unknown number of soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment which occurred after Iran promised retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, leader of its Quds Force, in Baghdad last week.

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The letter says that the war powers notification provided to Congress was “generic, vague and entirely inconsistent in its level of detail when compared with prior notifications by this and earlier administrations.” 

It then outlines specific information that the senators want from the Department of Defense, which revolves around the troops and personnel that have already been deployed and those who could be deployed moving forward.

The letter sets a Jan. 10 deadline for the information to be released.

Iran on Tuesday fired missiles at a pair of military bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the attacks as “proportionate measures in self-defense” in a tweet, adding “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) both confirmed that they had been briefed on the situation by Vice President Pence.

President Trump is expected to address the nation Wednesday morning. 

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