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US Buildup Estimated at 100,000 Troops

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>

> U.S. BUILDUP ESTIMATED AT

> 100,000

> TROOPS, 1,000 MILITARY PLANNERS

>

> [Wednesday, September 4, 2002]: The United States

> continues its military buildup in and around the

> Persian Gulf with analysts estimating up to 100,000

> troops within striking distance of Iraq.

>

> U.S. military sources and analysts said Washington

> has sent tens of thousands of soldiers and military

> personnel to Gulf Arab states, Central and South

> Asia and the Levant. They said the force includes at

> least 1,000 military planners who have prepared for

> a rapid airlift of forces in case Washington decides

> on a war against Iraq.

>

> The U.S. Defense Department has been bolstering its

> transport ship fleet as well as preparing its air

> cargo fleet to defend against Islamic insurgents and

> Iraqi forces, Middle East Newsline reported. On Aug.

> 27, the Pentagon said it awarded Northrop Grumman a

> $23.2 million contract to provide the C-17 transport

> aircraft with systems to defend against infrared

> surface-to-air missiles.

>

> The Pentagon has also awarded a $20.5 million

> contract for the maintenance and overhaul of the

> U.S. Navy's reserve air fleet. The award for iBASEt,

> based om Lake Forest, Calif., is meant to support a

> range of air programs.

>

> Analysts said the total number of U.S. troops in the

> Persian Gulf and surrounding regions now number

> around 100,000. They said this could enable a U.S.

> attack on Iraq within weeks of a decision by

> President George Bush.

>

> The Washington-based Center for Defense Information

> said the U.S. troop deployment effort has been muted

> and taken in cooperation with host countries. The

> center said in a report that the cooperation is

> meant to keep the airlift out of the public eye.

>

> "Notably, the command posts throughout the southern

> Gulf states and their implication of offensive

> operations are as politically sensitive as ever,"

> the center said in a report authored by [Ret.] Rear

> Adm. Stephen Baker and Colin Robinson. "The U.S.

> 'footprint' in each country requires actual

> personnel numbers, amount of prepositioned equipment

> and support/cooperation agreements made with each

> country to be kept out of the public’s

> knowledge."

>

> The center said the United States maintains 8,000

> troops in Afghanistan with several thousand more

> aboard naval ships in the Arabian Sea. More than

> 20,000 additional soldiers are deployed in Gulf Arab

> countries.

>

> [On Aug. 30, Germany Defense Minister Peter Struck

> warned that Berlin would withdraw its military

> personnel from Kuwait if the United States attacks

> Iraq. Germany maintains 52 soldiers and Fox infantry

> fighting vehicles and has been training Kuwait in

> defending against a weapons of mass destruction

> attack.]

>

> Moreover, more than 1,000 military planners,

> logistics experts and support specialists have been

> deployed in command posts throughout the Persian

> Gulf, the report said.

>

> They are in real-time contact with U.S. Central

> Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. by video

> teleconferencing, satellite imagery and data link

> and have drafted plans to ship up to 200,000 tons of

> heavy weapons and other equipment to the region.

>

> The center said the United States could also use

> military bases in Egypt and Jordan for an attack on

> Iraq. Currently, the U.S. 22nd Marine Expeditionary

> Unit is exercising with Jordanian forces and the

> center did not rule out that the maneuvers comprise

> a cover for prepositioning forces at well-sited

> forward staging posts.

> [WorldTribune]

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