[R-G] US pours arms into Gulf region
mstainsby at tao.ca
Mon Sep 9 00:47:33 MDT 2002
Observer. 8 September 2002. US pours arms into Gulf region.
AMMAN -- The United States has begun the massive military build-up
required for a war against Iraq, ordering the movement of tens of
thousands of men and tonnes of materiel to the Gulf region.
Despite the assurances of President George Bush and Tony Blair that 'no
decisions' had been made on how to deal with the threat posed by Saddam
Hussein, compelling evidence has emerged in the past week that the US
has begun a military build-up not seen since the last Gulf war.
Among the troops arriving in the region are an estimated 2,500 in
Jordan. Although officially en route for an exercise, sources claim
their real purpose is to provide anti-missile protection in the
Jordanian desert to give Israel advance warning against any Iraqi attack
launched in response to a US invasion.
Last week Reuters reported that the US navy had chartered a large
civilian cargo carrier to take battle tanks to the Gulf at the end of
However, sources familiar with the ship's manifest claim that the cargo
is missiles, ammunition and tracked transport vehicles for a build-up of
munitions for an air campaign.
In the next move up to 20,000 US Marines from Camp Pendelton in
California are to arrive in the region in mid-October.
There have also been persistent reports that US and British Special
Forces have established an operating base near Incerlik in Turkey, from
which they have begun mounting liaison missions into northern Iraq in
Sources say British military liaison teams have arrived in the Gulf.
They claim Britain is likely to agree to commit a 'division minus' --
comprising two armoured brigades -- to support the three US divisions
expected to be deployed.
The slow but persistent build-up is reminiscent of the slow gathering of
forces prior to the Gulf war, which was characterised by blanket
official denials that the troop movements were related to preparations
In a further sign that US and British forces are preparing for attacks
on Iraq, allied aircraft struck a ground-based Iraqi anti-shipping
missile site at Basra in the early hours of yesterday.
That strike followed raids against Iraqi air defence sites last week
that sources claim may have involved up to 100 planes.
Similar attacks have been carried out every few days this year.
These types of attacks were common during the Clinton administration but
were discontinued by President Bush because they were thought to be
Their resumption is part of the military and political preparation for a
Rather than starting a new war, an option for the supporters of 'regime
change' is to ratchet up attacks a step at a time, until a final drive
'What is clear,' said one source, 'is that the US and Britain have begun
the air phase that would be required for a wider attack, launching raids
under the auspices of the existing no-fly zones.'
'The intention is that Iraq will have no air defence capability at all
should the US and UK decide to attack.'
Since the Gulf war, the US has more than doubled the rate at which it
can fly and ship troops around the world; it can have close to 100,000
troops available within weeks.
Despite all the talk over lack of regional allies, the US now has the
use of bases in Georgia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which it did not
have at the time of the Gulf war, as well as huge old Soviet airbases in
Bulgaria and Romania.
Several thousand Special Forces troops are already in the Caucasus and
Central Asian states, while part of the 18,000-strong 82nd Airborne
Division is at hand in Afghanistan.
Among other units, a 20,000-strong Marine Expeditionary Force will
arrive in the Gulf in October supported by 72 A-10 Air Force planes.
The US Army has part of its 3rd Infantry Division in Kuwait and weapons
for at least one armoured division. B-52 bombers, carrier-based war
planes and other bombers based in Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar are also
In Iraq, the US is said to be preparing forward airbases in the
In the contradiction lies the hope.
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