Democrats call for updates on US troop deployments

Democrats call for updates on US troop deployments
© Greg Nash

Senior Democratic leadership penned a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon US military to soon resume training for Saudi students State Department cancels two classified congressional briefings on Iran, embassy security MORE 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it GOP senator: 2020 candidates must recuse themselves from impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall Senators under strict orders to pay attention during weeks-long impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (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 PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon Hillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' MORE (D-Calif.) both confirmed that they had been briefed on the situation by Vice President Pence.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE is expected to address the nation Wednesday morning.