Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bush Orders Biggest Build-Up of Special Forces since Vietnam

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bush Orders Biggest Build-Up of Special Forces since Vietnam

Article excerpt


PRESIDENT Bush has ordered the biggest mobilisation of special forces since the Vietnam War.

Several hundred are already in place in Uzbekistan after being flown into bases in the former Soviet republic to the north of Afghanistan - the first time US troops have been deployed to the former Soviet Union.

The special forces, which include the Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy Seals and Air Commandos, have a total of 46,000 active and reserve troops available.

With air and ground attacks already drawn up, the units - highly trained in sabotage, kidnapping and guerrilla warfare - will identify and pinpoint military bases, arsenals, communications systems and transport centres under Taliban control which will be targets for cruise missile and guided bomb air strikes. At the same time, special forces on the ground will strike at known terrorist camps, in groups no more than 20 strong.

A former special operations officer said in Washington today he would expect the leadership of the Taliban, who live in and around the southern Afghan city of Kandahar "to be gone in the first 24 hours".

He said: "There are probably American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan at this moment, and the attack on terrorism may have already begun."

However, the exercise will be a severe test for the Americans who have already sought the cooperation of European special forces like Britain's 22 SAS Regiment, France's elite infantry and marine special forces, and some 200 German special units of the Bundeswehr and the paramilitary GSGN police who are reported to be on standby. This is the main line-up of the US Special Forces being ordered to action: Navy Seals. As their name suggests (Sea Air Land) they are combat engineers who can reach the battle zone by land, sea, or air by helicopter or Halo (High Altitude Low Opening) parachute drop. Up to a regiment - 500 - Seals are now thought to be at the Pakistan border.

Army Rangers. The Green Berets of the US Army's main Rapid Deployment Force which in theory can be deployed anywhere in the world at 18 hours' notice. …

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