Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Adds to Troops in Gulf 40,000 More Gis, Marines to Match Iraqi Buildup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Adds to Troops in Gulf 40,000 More Gis, Marines to Match Iraqi Buildup

Article excerpt

The United States is sending 40,000 soldiers and Marines to the Persian Gulf, and putting more than 15,000 more on standby.

The orders are being issued in response to Iraqi army maneuvers threatening Kuwait. President Bill Clinton interrupted a Columbus Day holiday weekend at Camp David, Md., and met for 90-minutes at the White House with his national security team.

A senior Defense Department official said 18,000 Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and 12,000 soldiers from the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., would be sent to the Persian Gulf. While formal orders have yet to be issued for these 30,000 Marines and soldiers - still technically on alert status - the official said the decision had been made to dispatch them.

About 4,000 members of the 24th began flying from Georgia to Kuwait on Sunday.

In addition, the Pentagon will be alerting 15,000 more soldiers and Marines, who could be called to support the deployment of the other units.

As of Friday, about 12,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were in the Persian Gulf region. Over the weekend, 2,000 Marines sailed into the northern Persian Gulf and 6,000 Navy men and women entered the Red Sea on board the aircraft carrier George Washington and its battle group.

With the additional buildup disclosed Sunday evening, the size of the U.S. force either in the region, en route, awaiting orders to leave or on alert totals 69,000 military personnel.

Over the next several days, U.S. officials said, about 180 U.S. warplanes and support aircraft will be in position around Kuwait, ready to unleash an airborne attack against any Iraqi armored units that might cross the border.

Defense Secretary William Perry said, "We have deployed many squadrons of tactical air - F-15s, F-16s, A-10s, AWACS. All in all, this is a formidable military force."

Pentagon officials said Perry was referring to nine F-15 Eagles departing from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia; 24 A-10 Warthog tank-killers; 18 F-16 Falcons; and 14 C-130 transports being dispatched from Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. Also, KC-10 and KC-135 tankers, AWACs radar planes and C-141 transports were being sent, military officials said. …

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