- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

NEAR THE IRAQ-KUWAIT BORDER U.S. troops forged ahead yesterday with their buildup in Kuwait amid reports that fresh deployment orders will bring U.S. force numbers in the Gulf region up to more than 150,000.
U.S. Army spokesman Col. Rick Thomas said more U.S. troops had arrived in Kuwait since Wednesday, the last time his staff confirmed fresh arrivals. He declined to give details for "operational security" and other reasons.
The Kuwaiti and U.S. militaries have strictly limited access to the thousands of U.S. troops deploying in the mainly flat, scrub-dotted Kuwaiti desert just south of the U.N.-patrolled demilitarized zone (DMZ) that cushions the border with Iraq.
Apart from a few all-purpose Army Humvees and transport vehicles, no military convoys could be seen yesterday heading north to the DMZ at Abdaly, an area where pulverized communications towers and radars are stark reminders of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
However, defense officials in Washington said there are 16,000 troops in Kuwait out of the 66,000 U.S. troops deployed in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. Of those, at least 10,000 are in Afghanistan.
Analysts believe three or four Army divisions and one or two Marine divisions are needed to begin a comprehensive attack on Iraq. Divisions can number about 15,000 troops.
"We continue to position forces and equipment in the region to support the president's global war on terrorism," Col. Thomas said in an interview. Vice President Richard B. Cheney has said the war against terrorism includes disarming Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has signed three large deployment orders two during the weekend for a total of 62,000 troops and one on Dec. 24 for about 25,000 soldiers to set in motion crucial reinforcements of troops, armor, warships and combat aircraft, weekend reports said.
The latest order, sent out Saturday night, directs 27,000 additional personnel to the Gulf, including thousands of Marines, an Army airborne infantry brigade, a squadron of F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters and two squadrons of F-16CJ radar-jamming fighters, according to published reports. A Defense Department spokesman declined to confirm the latest order.
Another 35,000 troops, most of them Marines, were ordered to move to the region Friday. Assembling that large a force in countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Turkey will still take several weeks, analysts say.
Kuwait, Iraq's southern neighbor, would serve as the launchpad for any ground attack in the absence of any agreement to base troops in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Any U.S.-led war against Baghdad remains widely opposed in Arab countries, where public opinion is enraged at what are seen as double standards toward Israel and Iraq, and in Turkey, where many fear freedom for Iraqi Kurds will stir separatism among Turkish Kurds.

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