U.S. has 100,000 troops
ready to strike Iraq

By WND Staff

Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily brings readers exclusive, up-to-the-minute global intelligence news and analysis from Geostrategy-Direct, a new online newsletter edited by veteran journalist Robert Morton and featuring the “Backgrounder” column compiled by Bill Gertz. Geostrategy-Direct is a subscription-based service produced by the publishers of WorldTribune.com, a free news service frequently linked by the editors of WorldNetDaily.

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, according to Geostrategy, the global intelligence news service.

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. 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 also has awarded a $20.5 million contract for the maintenance and overhaul of the U.S. Navy’s reserve air fleet. The award for iBASEt, located in Lake Forest, Calif., is meant to support a range of air programs.

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 pre-positioned equipment and support/cooperation agreements made with each country to be kept out of the public’s knowledge.”

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 pre-positioning forces at well-sited forward staging posts.

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