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 publicís
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.
Special to World Tribune.com