NEW YORK - President Barack Obamas announcement earlier this month that the United States will pull out all its forces from Iraq by the end of the year appears to be just a political stunt as a leading newspaper reported Sunday that plans were underway to bolster its military presence in the Persian Gulf. Citing officials and diplomats, The New York Times said that repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran. That, according to analysts, means US troops would continue to remain a dominant power in the region. Thus President Obamas dramatic announcement about withdrawal from Iraq means nothing much, said one analyst. The Times said that the plans for the Persian Gulf troop has been under discussion for months, but gained new urgency after Obamas announcement this month. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign. After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative, the Times said. In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region. With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, it said. While the US has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new security architecture for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defence. The size of the standby American combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer expected in coming days, according to the dispatch. Officers at the Central Command headquarters, it said, declined to discuss specifics of the proposals, but it was clear that successful deployment plans from past decades could be incorporated into plans for a post-Iraq footprint in the region. For example, in the time between the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US Army kept at least a combat battalion and sometimes a full combat brigade in Kuwait year-round, along with an enormous arsenal ready to be unpacked should even more troops have been called to the region. Back to the future is how Maj Gen Karl Horst, Central Commands chief of staff, described planning for a new posture in the Gulf to the Times. He said the command was focusing on smaller but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional militaries. We are kind of thinking of going back to the way it was before we had a big 'boots on the ground presence, General Horst said. I think it is healthy. I think it is efficient. I think it is practical. Obama and his senior national security advisers have sought to reassure allies and answer critics, including many Republicans, that the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf even as it winds down the war in Iraq and looks ahead to doing the same in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.