[R-G] WWIII update - US troops in Uzbekistan
bstoller at utopia2000.org
Fri Oct 5 12:31:47 MDT 2001
AFP. 5 October 2001. US sends 1,000 troops to Uzbekistan after
green-light to use airfield.
TASHKENT -- The United States sent 1,000 elite troops to Uzbekistan on
Friday after the former Soviet republic gave Washington the go-ahead to
use one of its air bases in its anti-terrorist campaign against
President Islam Karimov, however, repeated that he would not allow the
use of Uzbek territory to launch air or ground attacks on Afghan's
Taliban militia and emphasized that the US presence in his country was
restricted to humanitarian missions [!].
"We are against the use of our territory in land operations against
Afghanistan. We are against air strikes on Afghanistan," Karimov said
following talks here with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Karimov did grant the United States use of an airfield and other
facilities for aircraft, helicopters and personnel involved in search
and rescue missions.
"Uzbekistan gives its permission for the use of one of its airfields and
facilities," said Karimov.
Referring to the undisclosed location of the airfield, Karimov later
told journalists it was "around 500 kilometres from Tashkent," adding:
This place has been chosen so that it will be suitable for conducting
humanitarian and search-and-rescue operations."
His remarks suggested the airfield in question was probably Khanabad,
near Karshi, in the south of Uzbekistan, experts said.
US officials said the crack light infantry troops were being stationed
to provide force protection in Uzbekistan for US military operations in
reprisal for the September 11 terrorist strikes on Washington and New
[N.B.] It marks the first major deployment of US ground forces in the
showdown with Afghanistan, which now appears imminent.
"The 10th mountain division is in the air," a US defense official told
reporters traveling with Rumsfeld, who flew into Tashkent from Cairo.
US ground forces have been the missing piece in the mobilization of US
forces in the region.
US warships and bombers are positioned within striking distance of
Afghanistan and US special forces have been deployed to the region.
But except for some 2,200 combat-ready US Marines aboard amphibious
assault ships in waters off Pakistan, no large contingents of ground
forces had moved until now.
The 10th mountain division, which specializes in cold-weather fighting,
could also be used as a rapid-reaction force to back up special forces'
missions in Afghanistan.
[N.B.] US troops have held military exercises in former Soviet republics
before, but never for an operation of this kind.
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