Now that they've conquered America, it's time to get on with the Racket,
er - war...
US Masses For War On Iraq
By Bill Vann
While Washington goes through the diplomatic motions of moving a
resolution on weapons inspection through the United Nations Security
Council, the Pentagon continues its systematic buildup of forces in
preparation for a military attack on Iraq.
On November 2, some 8,000 sailors and Marines set sail for the Persian
Gulf from San Diego with the seven-ship battle group of the aircraft
carrier Constellation. The battle group carries 72 Navy and Marine Corps
warplanes, which would be used in the round-the-clock bombardment of
Baghdad and other Iraqi cities that is expected to precede a ground
invasion. It also includes a guided-missile destroyer and two
guided-missile cruisers that would be used to launch cruise missiles at
The USS Harry S. Truman, another carrier, has been the centerpiece of a
huge war game off the North Carolina coast involving some 15,000 US
military personnel. The scenario for the exercise is modeled on an
invasion of Iraq. The nuclear-powered Truman's battle group includes up
to 12 surface ships and submarines as well as eight aircraft squadrons.
It also carries the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is slated for
use in a ground war against Iraq. Soon after the conclusion of the war
game, this group too will prepare to head for the Persian Gulf and is
expected to arrive there in late December or early January.
While these carriers are ostensibly being sent to relieve two others-the
USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS George Washington, which are in the
Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea respectively-it is widely expected
that the four will remain in striking distance of Iraq, awaiting an
order to attack. Pentagon planners have set January or early February as
the optimum period for launching a war in the region because of cooler
temperatures and longer nights.
"You could make a case that with normal rotations, if you did the math,
you could have up to four carrier battle groups deployed," Vice Admiral
Timothy Keating, the commander of the Fifth Fleet, told the New York
Times. "Could they end up in the Arabian Gulf? Sure. It depends on where
we want them to go. It depends on what the president tells us to do."
Three massive military cargo vessels-the USNS Bellatrix, USNS Bob Hope
and USNS Fisher-also headed for the Persian Gulf early this week. The
ships, among the largest in the US Navy, are nearly as big as aircraft
carriers and are capable of carrying tanks, helicopters and other heavy
equipment on their seven decks. A Navy spokesman refused to comment on
the final destination of the cargo vessels, declaring only, "It is part
of the repositioning of forces and equipment in support of the war on
Meanwhile, military officials announced last week that part of the 2nd
Marine Division will be deployed soon from Camp Lejeune in North
Carolina to eastern Africa, but they refused to say how many would go or
when they would depart.
Thousands of additional troops have been brought into the region
ostensibly as part of regularly scheduled training operations. The 11th
Marine Expeditionary Unit is participating in the "Eager Mace" military
exercise in Kuwait, where the ruling family has cordoned off a quarter
of the country for use by the US military. The Marines are practicing
both amphibious landings and what the Pentagon refers to as "Military
Operations in Urban Terrain," i.e., preparing for house-to-house
fighting in Baghdad, a city of five million people.
Army troops, meanwhile, have been brought in for another exercise,
"Internal Look," and there is widespread speculation that they too are
being positioned for an attack on the Arab country. The Army's 82nd
Airborne, which would be used in an Iraqi invasion, is quietly being
withdrawn from Afghanistan in preparation for redeployment.
Kuwait is likely to serve as the main staging area for an invasion.
Advance elements of five American divisions are reportedly already in
the country preparing to erect quarters as well as communications
networks for the military force. Already, more than 9,000 US military
personnel are in the country, approximately 10 times the size of the US
force that was permanently stationed there in the aftermath of the first
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah stated this week,
to no one's surprise, that the ruling family will allow US forces to use
Kuwait's bases in a war on neighboring Iraq. "They are here in our
bases.... How can they not use them?" he said. US forces are already
deployed at two Kuwaiti air bases, in the desert at Camp Doha and on the
outskirts of Kuwait City. Another base is being readied in the south of
Meanwhile, in nearby Qatar, preparations are being made for the forward
positioning at the Al-Udeid air base of the US Central Command
headquarters, which is normally based in Tampa, Florida. General Tommy
Franks, the commander of the Central Command, is scheduled to arrive in
Qatar in early December for another military exercise involving 600
headquarters members. It is widely speculated that once there, they will
stay. The base is already occupied by 2,000 troops and boasts a
15,000-foot runway, the largest in the region.
Military planners have indicated that a ground force numbering up to a
quarter of a million troops may be assembled before an attack aimed at
conquering the country. Much of the manpower and war materiel, however,
is already in place in the Gulf as a result of the unceasing military
buildup in the region since the last war against Iraq in 1991. As a
result of this "prepositioning," the time it would take to bring
together an invasion force could be reduced to a matter of weeks, if not
More than 400 Bradley fighting vehicles, 300 tanks and hundreds of
artillery pieces, together with other ordinance, munitions and vehicles
are stored in scores of warehouses located in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain,
as well as on ships docked off Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The
equipment at those four locations alone is sufficient for a force of
over 20,000, according to Pentagon planners.
Additional equipment is stored at the Incirlik air base in Adana Turkey,
just hours from Iraq's northern border, as well as in Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of US Air Force military transport planes together with
chartered civilian airliners are available to bring soldiers into the
region, "marry" them with the equipment and send them into Iraq.
Between the Gulf states and Turkey, the US has stationed more than 300
Air Force and Navy attack jets, as well as a full contingent of
electronic surveillance, radar and refueling planes. These aircraft,
together with the scores of carrier-based attack jets, have already
begun a low-intensity war against Iraq, regularly bombing both military
and civilian targets on the pretext of responding to Iraqi ground fire.
The attacks, carried out under the cover of enforcing the "no-fly zones"
imposed by the US and Britain in northern and southern Iraq, are aimed
at crippling the country's air defense system in advance of an invasion.
Pilots are also using the daily sorties to rehearse for a full-scale
The Pentagon has also quietly carried out key logistical preparations
for war. Air Force officials revealed last week that climate-controlled
shelters for B-2 stealth bombers are being dispatched to air bases in
England and Diego Garcia. The B-2 bombers are to play a leading role in
pounding Iraq's cities before a ground invasion. While the radar-evading
bombers were used both in the Balkans and Afghanistan, this would mark
the first time they were deployed to "forward operating locations"
outside of their home base in Missouri. The planes must be treated with
special coatings of paint and fiber in a controlled environment.
The Army, meanwhile, has begun equipping its engineering units with new
portable bridges that expand in retractable sections once placed on the
water. These devices would be used in the rapid movement of troops
across the Euphrates River to cut off Baghdad. In September, the 1st
Cavalry Division conducted extensive exercises at Fort Hood, Texas to
practice with the new equipment. Military officials have said that the
unit would be among the first deployed in an Iraqi invasion.
USA Today revealed last week that Israel is providing substantial
assistance to the US military in preparation for war. Citing US military
and intelligence officials, the newspaper reported that the Israeli
government is "helping train soldiers and Marines for urban warfare,
conducting clandestine surveillance missions in the western Iraqi desert
and allowing the United States to place combat supplies in Israel."
Both the Bush administration and the Sharon government have remained
silent on this collaboration, for fear that Israel's role in the
campaign will further inflame anger over US aggression throughout the
Arab and Islamic world.
USA Today reported: "Israeli infantry units with experience in urban
warfare during the Palestinian uprising helped train US Army and Marine
counterparts this summer and fall for possible urban battles in Iraq, a
foreign defense official said. The Israelis have built two mock cities,
complete with mosques, hanging laundry and even the odd donkey
meandering down dusty streets." The newspaper said that the sites "far
surpass US facilities," and that their locations are classified.
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