By Jennifer Rizzo
The United States has approximately 15,000 troops in Kuwait, according to a Senate report released Tuesday, the first time the number has been disclosed.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report looked at how to best promote U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf region after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq last year, the ongoing Arab Spring uprisings and the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
It concluded in part that a "lily pad" model of having bases throughout the region to allow for a rapid escalation of military forces is a sound approach.
The Kuwaiti bases "offer the United States major staging hubs, training ranges, and logistical support for regional operations," the report said. "U.S. forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense."
By Barbara Starr reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan. Pam Benson and Charley Keyes contributed from Washington
As General Martin Dempsey toured around the globe over the last eight days, one issue was prominent - Iran's nuclear intentions.
Dempsey, in an exclusive interview with CNN, warned that Iran is playing a dangerous game that could ensnare the Middle East, the United States and others into conflict and a renewed nuclear arms race. From Iraq to Afghanistan, Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff heard about growing concerns about Iran's ambitions.
"My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve," Dempsey said in an interview conducted during a stop in Afghanistan. "Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world."
The recent loss of the U.S. spy drone over Iran exposed part of America's espionage efforts against the country. CNN recently reported that the drone was sent into Iran to conduct surveillance of possible nuclear sites. In perhaps the most candid comments yet from an American official about the spying efforts, Dempsey said the loss of the drone is not the end of U.S. efforts to figure out what Iran is doing.
"If you are asking 'are we gathering intelligence against Iran in a variety of means?', the answer is of course," Dempsey said. "It would be rather imprudent of us not to try to understand what a nation who has declared itself to be an adversary of the United States is doing".
Among the proposals -
- reverse projected spending cuts and set a floor for defense spending of 4% of gross domestic product (GDP)
- increase Navy shipbuilding to a rate of 15 ships per year
- reverse Obama missile defense cuts and commit to a missile defense system
- launch review of Afghanistan transition plan
- in Latin America "launch a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region"
- complete border fence on border with Mexico
- reset the Obama administration "reset" with Russia
Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence talked about the spending and weapon proposals with Newsroom anchor Suzanne Malveaux. Over on CNN's Global Public Square blog, Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon gives his take.
By Sr. State Department Producer Elise Labott
Concerned the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo by protestors could escalate tensions in the Middle East, the United States has engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity.
In addition to President Barack Obama's call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaking to Egyptian Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland said that Secretary Clinton spoke twice to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amir over the weekend to express those concerns.
"Her message was we need to get the situation under control; you have obligations under the Vienna Convention; please do what you can to protect Israeli citizens, and this is dangerous not only in your relationship with Israel but in terms of implications for the region as a whole," Nuland said.
The US is concerned that the tensions between Israel and Egypt could flame anti-Israeli sentiment in the region in advance of the opening of the UN General Assembly next week, where the Palestinians are expected to launch a controversial bid for statehood.
In addition, Assistant Secretary Feltman also reached out to a "broad cross-section" of officials in the region to urge calm and stress the importance of peace between Egypt and Israel "to the region as a whole as we move into a very complicated period heading towards the meetings in New York next week," Nuland said.
A senior State Department official said that Feltman spoke with the Secretary General of the GCC, Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa, Qatari Pm Hamad bin Lassim; Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Saudi Ambassador to US Adel al-Jubair and officials in Kuwait and Egyptian foreign ministries.
- Follow Elise on Twitter: @EliseLabottCNN