U.S. military forces in Europe, which are currently at threat condition “Bravo,” are set to be upgraded to condition “Charlie” by Jan. 20, while other elements of U.S. European theater forces — as well as British special forces troops — may be headed to Israel “within a few weeks,” sources have told WorldNetDaily.
According to a host of reports from various European and Middle East military sources, all of whom requested anonymity for security reasons, European Command, or EUCOM, forces last week were placed on alert status “Bravo” — with “Alpha” being the lowest and “Delta” being the highest — “across the board,” which included all U.S. forces stationed in the European theater — Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Bosnia and elsewhere.
Other sources said the alert status would be upgraded to “Charlie” — the second highest level — at “2400 hours European time, Jan. 20,” the day President-elect George W. Bush is to be sworn into office, due to developments taking shape in the Middle East.
Another source said the U.S. V Corps — which includes the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division, plus supporting artillery, engineer, medical and supply units — “are moving en masse to Grafenwoehr” — a sprawling training center near Nuremberg — and that Patriot missile batteries may be moved to Israel.
A spokesman for the U.S. Army, Lt. Col. Dave LaPan, confirmed that EUCOM’s alert status was upgraded to “Bravo” last week, noting that “they go up and down all the time.”
Another U.S. Army spokesman said he was “unaware of any pending change to the threat conditions in the United States European Command.” While he said he had “no specific knowledge” of the troop movements, he added, “I can tell you that we frequently train at Grafenwoehr. … It would not be at all unusual for [those units] to move there.”
When asked if the Pentagon planned such training exercises — which typically cost millions of dollars — well in advance, the spokesman said, “Yes, yes, way in advance.”
But, after some hesitation, he added, “As far as I know, there would be no relation between” the movement of those forces “and any raise or elevation of the threat condition.”
“I’m unaware of the things that you’re talking about in advance,” he said.
When asked if WND could quote him as saying the particular exercise at Grafenwoehr had been planned in advance, he replied, “I wouldn’t say that, because I don’t know that there is an exercise going on.”
According to EUCOM, there is no record of a major January 2001 exercise involving the numbers of troops that comprise the U.S. Army’s V Corps.
But, sources told WND, the divisions reportedly being deployed to Grafenwoehr are “taking with them more than just enough stuff for a weekender. They’re taking contamination outfits, protection gear, all of it — lock, stock and barrel.”
Also, sources said, “the 69th Air Defense Brigade” — a two battalion Patriot missile brigade — “is going through the process of deploying overseas, meaning leaving Europe, and they’re going to Israel.”
One source said U.S. Patriot batteries are already — and routinely — stationed in Israel and Kuwait.
However, by deploying the 69th, “this means that those two battalions — which are the umbrella of air defense protection for that army — are being taken away from them, leaving them naked. That doesn’t make a lot of military sense, but when you add up all the little pieces … it seems that the European Command is saying, ‘Once the 69th is deployed, this will send a signal to all terrorists … that the U.S. is definitely taking sides in a fight [in the Middle East] that all sides now admit is a war.’”
The same source also said British SAS special forces troops were preparing to deploy “to a desert climate” within three weeks.
Meanwhile, a separate report said the U.S. military has ordered soldiers with families living in Israel to send them home, but both the Pentagon and the State Department denied that report.
“At this juncture, we don’t feel that that decision is merited,” one State Department spokesman told WND. “Whenever something happens, we go through all the options … and decide on the best course of action.”
The spokesman said the last time Washington issued an “authorized departure” for U.S. citizens to leave Israel “was in December 1998, the last time we conducted a sustained bombing of Iraq.” The time before that was in 1991 during the Gulf War.
However, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for U.S. citizens in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank Jan. 12, warning that the “U.S. Government has indications that there is a heightened threat of terrorist incidents” in the Jewish state.
“Violent clashes and confrontations continue to take place throughout the West Bank and Gaza. U.S. Embassy and Consulate employees have been prohibited from traveling to the West Bank, Gaza, commercial districts of East Jerusalem and the Old City of Jerusalem, except for mission essential business,” the State Department said.
“When you look at all the signals coming out of Iraq, for example,” one source told WND, “they are significant. In effect, he [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] is saying, ‘We’re going to bring a lot of pain to Israel,’” noting that Saddam has deployed Republican Guard divisions “50 miles south of Baghdad and two divisions near the border with Syria.”
“When you look at these signals, it’s 10 years ago again,” the source said, noting that other sources “who don’t know each other are all saying the same things.”
“From all indicators, it looks like” the U.S. is making preparations for conflict in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, separate published reports said Israeli commanders were pressing Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s government for full mobilization of military reserves to “augment the standing army and relieve active duty forces from duty in Gaza and the West Bank so they can train for what commanders view as an inevitable regional war.”
Sources also confirmed earlier reports that Israel was reinforcing its northern border with tanks, armored personnel carriers and troops in expectation of attacks that would come from guerrilla and terrorist forces in Lebanon.