As the U.S. withdraws completely from Iraq, it is considering increasing the number of troops in the surrounding Gulf region in case of a security collapse in Iraq or a conflict with Iran, according to a report.

The United States, which already has 40,000 troops in the Persian Gulf region, is seeking to boost the number of troops it has in Kuwait beyond the current 23,000, Obama administration officials and diplomats said told the New York Times.

The size of the expansion is still being discussed. The move comes as the U.S. prepares to withdraw all its troops from Iraq after failing to secure immunity from prosecution for its troops from the Iraqi government.

The Administration is also seeking a new “security architecture” with six Gulf nations – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman – that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense, according to the report.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed the U.S. presence in the region on October 26 at a Town Hall meeting aboard a U.S. military ship in Japan.

“As the president announced, we’re drawing down our combat forces in Iraq by the end of this year. The mission there was to develop an Iraq that could govern and secure its -- (inaudible). And we will maintain a long-term relationship with Iraq. And we will have, as you know, a long-term presence in that area. We've got over 40,000 troops in that region, just 23,000 alone in Kuwait. So we are going to be there.”

“And the message to Iran and everybody else that might have any ideas there is that the United States is going to have a presence in that region for a long time to come,” he said.