Farewell Mountains, Hello Desert: US Special Forces Move to Iraq

Elite special troops to be moved from Afghanistan to Iraq

US preparation for its war against Iraq is underway. The strength of the US troops in the Gulf region is rapidly increasing. Politicians understand that today’s anti-war attitude of the world community comes in handy for Iraq, which is why they are rushing the American military to launch the war at the soonest possible opportunity. Military men, on the contrary, are rather cautious. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticizes General Colin Powell (incumbent secretary of the state) for his strong intention to allow UNMOVIC weapons inspectors return to Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld believes that, due to this action, he will have to wait for a war against Iraq for a year at least.

However, no matter how persistent the Pentagon officials are, they won’t be able to speed up the beginning of the war campaign. It is a very short period to cope with the deployment of troops, which number between 130 to 150,000 soldiers, military equipment, ammunition, and everything that is necessary for maintenance. There is only one way to transfer troops: by sea, which takes a rather long time. If troop-carriers are used for deployment, it may require a shorter time period, but the amount of troop-carriers Washington has isn’t sufficient. NATO has just a few troop-carriers (Germany has some as well, but it won’t let the US use them). Russia has a bigger fleet of troop-carriers, but it won’t let the USA use them as well. Against the background of what is currently going on and regarding the speed with which the US troops and equipment are being deployed in Turkey and the Gulf area, experts say that it is unrealistic to start operations against Iraq by November.

In addition, it turned out that the USA hasn’t enough land forces to back up the mass attacks on Iraq from the air. America needs about 30,000 special forces soldiers in addition to the 100,000 infantrymen America is going to involve in the operation. However, special forces commanders say that their soldiers are still engaged in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Philippines, so it is going to be a problem to find more soldiers.

The transfer of troops has already started, from Afghanistan for instance: the elite special forces are being replaced with paratroopers there. According to Pakistan’s PPI news agency, the US military command is going to engage 2 thousand paratroopers with Black Hawk and Apache helicopters from the 82nd division for a new Alamo Sweep operation in the southern and eastern provinces of the country. The main objective of the operation is to hunt al-Qaeda militants and ammunition depots. At that, elite special forces will only be partially involved, as they may soon be needed in Iraq. Mobile special troops will be still used for the realization of some separate actions.

Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/03/47940.html

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