US may be quietly building force in Gulf : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Tuesday September 18, 05:53 PM

US may be quietly building force in Gulf

By Charles Aldinger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the long-planned movement of a third aircraft carrier toward the Mediterranean or Gulf set for Wednesday, the U.S. military could be building a potent force in the Middle East region to take part in any response to last week's attack on America.

The carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its 75 warplanes, along with a half-dozen escort warships and a three-ship "Amphibious Ready Group" of some 1,500 Marine troops were preparing to leave Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday as previously scheduled.

The Pentagon and military officials refused to discuss any movement of forces in the wake of the Sept. 11 strikes by hijacked passenger airlines against New York's World Trade Centre and the Pentagon outside Washington, but the Roosevelt "battle group" would put three U.S. carriers, some 200 Navy warplanes, at least 100 land-based Air Force strike jets and more than two dozen warships armed with long -range cruise missiles in the region.

American heavy B-52 bombers, capable of launching cruise missiles, are also believed to be stationed on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Although the military would provide no updated figures on the U.S. presence in the region on Tuesday, here is a list of forces recently assigned to the Gulf and nearby:

Gulf: Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson with 75 combat aircraft accompanied by an escort battle group of at least six cruisers, destroyers and frigates.

Indian Ocean: Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise and its half-dozen escort vessels. All were headed back to the United States last week but were stopped and put on standby alert pending further orders.

Mediterranean: At least a half-dozen cruisers, destroyers and submarines and an Amphibious Ready Group of some 1,500 Marines aboard the helicopter carrier Kearsarge and two other warships.

Turkey: Some 2,000 U.S. and British air support personnel along with U.S. F-15 and F-16 aircraft and British Jaguar warplanes at Incirlick Air Base policing a "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait: Dozens of U.S. and British warplanes helping police a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq.

Diego Garcia: United States believed to have a number of long-range heavy B-52 bombers, capable of launching advanced cruise missiles, at a British air base on the Indian Ocean island.

The above forces are part of routine U.S. deployments to the region for the past several years and would not include any movement of additional aircraft or elite "Special Operations" troops since last week's attack on the United States.

-- Swissrose (, September 18, 2001

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