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WASHINGTON – Large, unusual movements of U.S. special operations equipment, including combat planes and gunships, recently have been tracked departing the U.S. and heading east, and various sources believe the movement could be associated with crises brewing in the Middle East and North Africa, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The aircraft reportedly include the C-130N Combat Shadow, used to refuel special operations helicopters; HC-130P Combat King, used for personnel recovery; and the AC-130U Spooky and A-10 Thunderbolt, for close air support.
According to the open-source intelligence group Stratfor, the aircraft are used primarily by special operations. In referring to its spotters, Stratfor said some 12 U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft also are on the move, possibly for the Middle East. There reportedly are a number of what Stratfor describes as superiority squadrons involved, including a stealthy F-22 Raptor squadron.
Sources say the movements may be in response to requests for training in Iraq, to have military forces ready for action in Syria or Libya, to back up Israel should it attack Iran’s nuclear facilities or to help Gulf Cooperation Countries concerned about an Iranian retaliation to an Israeli strike.
Iran also has threatened to attack U.S. bases in the region should its nuclear facilities be attacked.
“The deployment of this kind of aircraft, along with the unusual presence of AC-130U gunships, special operations helicopters, drones and tankers, could be the sign that something big is going to take place in the coming weeks,” according to David Cenciotti in the Aviationist.
These combinations of aircraft could be used for any assortment of missions in the Middle East and North Africa.
If Israel is to launch a pre-emptive military airstrike against Iran, for example, it will need the long-range inflight refueling that the C-130N would provide. Israel isn’t assessed to have the long-range refueling capability required to send and return its jets the long distance between Israel and Iran.
There also is the prospect that the U.S. is gearing up for a retaliatory strike against concentrations of al-Qaida affiliates in Libya. Elements of al-Qaida now have been identified as initiating the terrorist attack on the undefended U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, according to the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The ODNI pointed out that the attackers “were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to, al-Qaida.”
The attack resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens; Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith; and two former U.S. Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
One U.S. intelligence source tells WND/G2Bulletin that Doherty and Woods, who were not part of the ambassador’s protective service, actually were with the Central Intelligence Agency.
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