TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. military officials say Iran is increasing its clout with neighboring countries in an effort to fill the void when U.S. troops leave Iraq next month.
Iran is handing out money and weapons in Iran, Yemen and other trouble spots, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
The Pentagon is trying to get support from the White House to shift U.S. troops from Iraq to bases in Kuwait and other areas of the Persian Gulf.
"Why in the world would we abdicate presence and stability in the [region] to a malign Iran?" Army Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, chief of staff at U.S. Central Command, said in an interview with the newspaper. "I'm just not sure those are good outcomes, from the U.S. perspective."
The Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., is developing plans to station ground troops in Kuwait, as well as to increase the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.
"The withdrawal of U.S. forces creates a vacuum, and somebody has to fill that vacuum," a senior military intelligence official told the newspaper. "Iran's full focus now will be on trying to consolidate their influence as much as they possibly can."