Despite the massive pretest against the war, US-UK without shame
at the same day of F15 bombed Iraq again! Also, without shame, launched yet
another in NATO to shut out France to sending NATO troops to Turkey (plus millions
of dollars of US bribes to Turkey).
And, without shame, Bush is stealing the needed education, health care and social program funding to support US war machine and millions of dollars to war profiteers.
News and Analysis:
1) US Planes Hit Iraq Missile Sites (Feb 15, Assoicated Press)
2) US Hits Missile Launcher in S. Iraq (Feb 11, Assoicated Press)
3) Who is for or against a war on Iraq (Assoicated Press)
4) NATO Reaches Agreements on Iraq [without France] (Feb 17)
5) Dutch Patriot missiles go to Turkey despite NATO row (Feb 16, Reuters)
6) US Reportedly Offers Turkey Aid (Feb 15, Reuters)
7) US May Seek Second UN Iraq Resolution (Feb 17, Assoicated Press)
Latest US-Uk Military Movements..
8) US Ship Makes First Inspections Board (Feb 15, Assoicated Press)
9) Navy's Seabees Prepare for Possible War (Feb 14, Assoicated Press)
10) US War Room in Afghanistan Tells Tale (Feb 13, Assoicated Press)
11) 82nd Airborne Troops Depart Fort Bragg (Feb 13, Assoicated Press)
12) Pentagon Activates More Reserve Troops (Feb 12, Assoicated Press)
13) National Guard And Reserve Mobilized As Of February 12 (Department of Defense)
14) US War Buildup in High Gear in Kuwait (Feb 10, Assoicated Press)
15) Foreigners Exact Trade-Offs From U.S. Contractors (Feb 16, New York Times, USA)
WASHINGTON (AP) - American warplanes bombed two anti-aircraft missile sites in southern Iraq early Saturday, the U.S. Central Command announced.
U.S. pilots bombed two mobile, surface-to-air missile sites near Basra, Iraq's major port about 245 miles southeast of Baghdad, at about midnight EST, Central Command said in a statement.
The strike was the fourth in the Basra area this week - the second in as many days - by American planes patrolling the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. Basra, the country's second-largest city, is only about 35 miles from the border with Kuwait.
Tens of thousands of U.S. troops are massing in Kuwait in preparation for a possible invasion of Iraq. Airstrikes in the Basra area this month have included strikes against surface-to-surface missiles that U.S. commanders say threaten those ground troops.
On Friday, American planes also dropped 360,000 leaflets over three towns about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, Central Command said. The leaflets included directions for tuning in to American military radio broadcasts carrying messages against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces have dropped millions of leaflets over southern Iraq in recent months.
The United States set up the southern no-fly zone to prevent Saddam from attacking restive Shiite Muslims there. Iraq claims flight-interdiction zones in northern and southern Iraq violate its sovereignty and frequently tries to shoot down the U.S. and British planes patrolling the zones.
Iraq has not shot down a piloted plane in either no-fly zone.
02/15/03 10:49 EST
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. planes bombed a ballistic missile launcher in southern Iraq on Tuesday, Pentagon officials said, in the first operation against Iraqi weapons that are meant to hit ground targets instead of aircraft or ships.
Eight American warplanes dropped a total of 16 bombs on the Iraqi missile system near Basra at about 11 a.m. EST, Pentagon officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A statement from U.S. Central Command said the Iraqis had moved the mobile missile-launching system into the southern no-fly zone.
``Saddam Hussein put these systems in range of our troops and the people of Kuwait, and under U.N. authority, we struck them,'' said Jim Wilkinson, a Central Command spokesman.
The U.S. bombs struck an Iraqi Ababil-100 missile launcher, a command van and resupply vehicles, senior defense officials said.
The Ababil is a solid-fueled missile developed after the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq says it does not fly farther than the 93-mile limit on Iraqi missiles imposed by United Nations sanctions. The United States and Britain say the Ababil probably either has a longer range or could easily be modified to fly farther. U.S. officials say the Ababil also can be used to carry chemical or biological warheads.
Even under the U.N. limit, an Ababil missile fired from Basra could easily reach Kuwait, where thousands of U.S. troops are massing in preparation for a possible invasion of Iraq.
U.S. warplanes also attacked a mobile surface-to-air missile system near Basra on Monday. Iraq claimed that strike killed two civilians. American military officials say they go to great lengths to avoid hitting civilians and say Iraq often lies about civilian casualties.
Tuesday was the 15th day this year that U.S. or coalition forces have struck at targets inside Iraq's two no-fly zones. The airstrikes are meant to retaliate against Iraqi attempts to shoot down coalition warplanes and to soften up Iraqi defenses before a possible invasion.
Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, is about 245 miles southeast of Baghdad in the southern no-fly zone set up by the United States to protect Iraq's Shiite Muslims.
Iraq considers the zones over northern and southern Iraq to be violations of its sovereignty and repeatedly tries to shoot down the U.S. and British warplanes patrolling them. Iraq has not succeeded in downing a piloted plane over either zone.
The United States also has dropped millions of leaflets in the southern no-fly zone, warning soldiers not to repair damaged facilities and telling Iraqis how to tune in to American military propaganda radio broadcasts.
02/11/03 18:48 EST
[The Assoicated Press has misleaded the numbers of countries who opposed the US-UK led war against Iraq, still, a good refence-PeaceNoWar]
STRONG OR SPECIFIC OFFERS OF SUPPORT
AUSTRALIA - Australia is one of Washington's staunchest allies and has deployed around 2,000 troops to the Middle East.
Prime Minister Howard said he was not convinced that large crowds at anti-war rallies in the country's major cities were evidence that public opinion was against war.
BRITAIN - Prime Minister Tony Blair, facing huge public opposition to his campaign for military action, tried to make a moral case by referring to Iraqi suffering under Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
London and Washington have stood shoulder-to-shoulder since the September 11 attacks and Blair has reserved the right to follow the United States into war without a fresh resolution, fearing some U.N. Security Council members would block it.
ISRAEL - Israel has said it would abstain from taking part in any U.S. coalition out of recognition of the "sensitivities" in the region, but reserves the right to respond if attacked.
ITALY - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government has been a staunch Bush supporter and has backed his tough stance on Iraq. Italy has said to the United States that transport planes bound for the Gulf can use military bases for stopovers and refuelling.
JAPAN - Although Japan's pacifist constitution bars it from taking an active part in any military action outside its borders, it is expected to find ways to back its most important ally, the United States, in the event of an attack.
KUWAIT - Freed from Iraqi occupation by a U.S.-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwait has offered all possible help. Kuwait is likely to be a launchpad for a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
PORTUGAL - Portugal and seven other European nations signed a joint letter expressing support for U.S. policy towards Iraq. The letter deepened a split within the 15-nation European Union over whether to back the U.S. position on attacking Iraq.
Portugal has also made an air base in the mid-Atlantic Azores islands available to U.S. military aircraft.
QATAR - The Gulf state is home to a mobile command post staffed by more than 1,000 U.S. communications personnel and several hundred British counterparts, which is likely to be the command and control centre in the event of an attack on Iraq.
ROMANIA - Romania's parliament approved sending 278 troops, chiefly anti-chemical and anti-biological warfare units to the Gulf following a formal request from Washington and has offered its airbases and the Black Sea port of Constanta for the refuelling of warplanes.
Other east European states such as Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have already committed various military assets.
SPAIN - Spain has emerged as one of Europe's most vocal U.S. supporters and has said it was working with Bush to muster support for a resolution authorising the use of military force.
It would allow the United States to use its bases to support a possible military strike on Iraq.
CANADA - Canada said time was running out for Iraq to show it was in full compliance with Security Council resolution 1441. However, Foreign Minister Bill Graham also said that no decision on the use of force had been taken by the government and it was seen as a very last resort.
NATO - NATO remains divided over whether to start planning indirect military support for a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq.
SAUDI ARABIA - Saudi Arabia is trying to avert an attack on its Arab neighbour and has floated the idea of trying to encourage a coup against Saddam by his subordinates.
Arab states fear a war that would topple Saddam would fragment Iraq into rival Sunni Muslim, Shi'ite Muslim and Kurdish enclaves and heighten instability in the Middle East.
But Riyadh is unlikely to prevent the United States using bases in the kingdom should the United States opt for war.
TURKEY - A compromise to end a NATO crisis on protective measures for Turkey in case of a U.S.-led war on Iraq is likely to be agreed in the coming days.
Turkey is allowing the U.S. military to modernise some bases for possible use in a war, but has not yet given Washington permission to use them for an offensive.
Though set to support an Iraq war, Turkey fears conflict across its borders could spark unrest among its Kurdish minority amid the return of hundreds of armed KADEK guerrillas presently holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq.
CHINA - China, which has veto power at the U.N. Security Council, signalled that its desire for the United Nations to work out a diplomatic solution to the issue was undiminished.
FRANCE/GERMANY - French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who has refused to rule out using France's veto in the Security Council to brake what Paris sees as a U.S. rush to war, said that Paris opposed having a new resolution as long as arms inspections were continuing.
At the United Nations, France defended the continuation of efforts to disarm Iraq through inspections following the report by chief arms inspector Hans Blix.
German Chancellor Schroeder insisted that Iraq could be disarmed without a war and that U.N. weapons inspectors should be given all the time and support they need.
However he has also guaranteed flyover and transit rights for U.S. forces in the event of military action.
RUSSIA - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the inspections were proceeding smoothly and it was not yet time to consider the use of force against Baghdad.
Russia, also a veto-wielding Security Council member which has deep economic interests in Iraq, has striven to avert unilateral U.S. action against Baghdad.
SYRIA - Syria said inspections were making substantial progress and war against Iraq would lead to "total anarchy."
Syria is a staunch opponent of U.S. military action against Iraq, although
it voted for U.N. Security Council resolution 1441 which told Iraq to disarm
or face "serious consequences."
02/16/03 10:24 ET
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Feb. 16) - NATO agreed to begin planning defense measures to aid Turkey in the event of a U.S.-led war in Iraq, breaking a monthlong stalemate that had opened the biggest rift in the West since the Cold War.
But European Union leaders faced a bruising summit, with France showing no sign of backing down in its opposition to U.S. plans to force Iraq to disarm.
The NATO alliance of the United States and 18 other nations finally reached agreement late Sunday after France was shut out of talks. The other holdouts in the deadlock, Germany and Belgium, then dropped objections to begin the planning to send military aid to Turkey if it is attacked by neighboring Iraq, NATO officials said.
"Alliance solidarity has prevailed,'' NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said. "We have been able collectively to overcome the impasse.''
The United States called the decision a "very big step forward'' for the alliance - even without France.
"We have a clear NATO decision to plan for the support for Turkey,'' U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns said. "And within several days, we have a clear commitment by all 18 allies that we will deploy AWACS and Patriot systems to Turkey.''
He was referring to the 18 other members besides France.
But there was little sign that the breakthrough at NATO would avert a confrontation Monday at an emergency EU summit called to find a common position on Iraq and end the deep division in that 15-nation bloc.
After the breakthrough at NATO, France, Germany and Belgium issued a statement balancing their commitment to honor their defense obligations with their desire to disarm Iraq peacefully. The statement said not all alternatives to military force had been "fully exploited.''
Belgium said it hoped the NATO breakthrough would produce agreement at the EU, but there must be a peaceful solution over Iraq.
"We, Belgium, Germany and France, will continue to defend the view that we must have a peaceful solution through the United Nations,'' Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt told a news conference.
The United States tried Sunday to defuse the trans-Atlantic row, although Washington would not back down on demanding swift action to disarm Iraq. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Washington was not interested in retribution against France and other allies.
"We don't need to allow this to become a street fight between the United States and France, the United States and Germany,'' she said on NBC.
NATO had been stymied for a month over opposition from France, Germany and Belgium to a U.S.-backed plan to begin planning for possible military aid to Turkey in the event of war with Iraq. Turkey, the only NATO state to border Iraq, is a possible launching point for U.S. military action.
Agreement was threatened when Belgium demanded linking any NATO deployment to developments at the U.N. Security Council, but the final statement made no firm commitment.
"We continue to support efforts in the United Nations to find a peaceful solution to the crisis,'' the NATO statement said.
The United States wants NATO to send early-warning aircraft, missile defenses and anti-biochemical units to Turkey in case Iraq attacks.
There was no sign of easy agreement at Monday's EU meeting, diplomats said, with neither side apparently willing to compromise. France and Germany wanted the EU to back them and insist there was no case for war against Iraq at this time, a position rejected by Britain.
Diplomats predicted the summit would, at best, produce a bland statement of unity without solving the split.
Greece, the current EU president, has warned the group faces a crisis if it fails to agree on a common position on Iraq. But Greek diplomats said they were too uncertain of the outcome to even propose a joint position for discussion.
Paris and Berlin have lead the opposition to U.S. demands to swiftly disarm Saddam Hussein. Washington, with strong British support, says Iraq is concealing weapons of mass destruction and not cooperating with a U.N. resolution to disarm.
The EU split erupted when the leaders of eight countries - Spain, Portugal, Italy, Britain, Hungary, Poland and Denmark and the Czech Republic - signed a letter supporting the United States. France, caught by surprise, was enraged, seeing it as a direct challenge.
France reiterated that U.N. weapons inspectors can disarm Iraq peacefully and must have more time. French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin rejected U.S. and British calls for a second U.N. resolution authorizing action.
"For us, such a resolution is not necessary while inspections continue to advance,'' he told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
De Villepin urged Europe to unite on Iraq, suggesting the United States could not alone ensure global security. He also rejected ousting Saddam in a rebuff to Washington and London, who say the Iraqi leader is a threat.
"That is not acceptable, and above all, it's dangerous,'' he was quoted as saying.
The anti-war camp was boosted by protests around the world Saturday, when millions marched against war. That came after U.N. weapons inspectors said Friday that Iraq had shown some signs of improving its cooperation.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the strongest U.S. ally in Europe, needs a second U.N. resolution to swing around a population largely opposed to war. Blair received a boost Sunday when senior ministers urged the divided governing Labor Party to back the premier.
The summit is seen as a crucial test of the EU's drive to forge a united front on foreign policy and security issues. Failure to work out a common stand on Iraq could exacerbate divisions over the EU's future, especially the drive by France and Germany to create a power capable of balancing the United States on the world stage.
But many EU members are reluctant to surrender their foreign policy and are determined to retain strong ties with the United States, which they see as essential to their security. Several eastern European states preparing to join the EU were excluded from attending Monday's meeting because of their strong pro-U.S. stance.
France and Germany, which long have dominated the EU, are anxious to cement their claim to pre-eminence before the expansion of the union to 25 nations.
Also Sunday, Turkey appeared to take a step back from its already lukewarm backing of the United States, with the government saying a Tuesday vote on allowing U.S. troops to base in Turkey for war with Iraq likely will be delayed.
The announcement came after the foreign minister returned from Washington, where he was unable to successfully negotiate an aid package for Ankara against likely economic disruptions should there be war
02/16/03 21:24 EST
AMSTERDAM, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The Netherlands have shipped three of its four Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey to help NATO's only Muslim member-state defend itself in any U.S. war with Iraq, a defence ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
The move, which appears to circumvent an Alliance row over preparations for defending Turkey in the event of a U.S. attack on Ankara's Arab neighbour, underlines Dutch support for Washington's hawkish policy.
"The Patriot systems are shipped at Turkey's request. This is a bilateral arrangement," said Dutch defence ministry spokesman Hans van den Heuvel, adding that NATO approval was not necessary.
He said the U.S.-built Patriots, which are designed to shoot down missiles in mid-air, would be manned by about 400 Dutch soldiers and would become operational at the beginning of March.
Earlier this month, Turkey gave permission to U.S. personnel to upgrade its bases and its parliament is scheduled to vote to allow Washington to send thousands of troops to Turkey's southern border with Iraq.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis warned on Sunday the vote could be delayed. Turkey fears a retaliation from Iraq if the United States attack Iraq from its soil, possibly in the form of Scud missiles.
Defence of Turkey is at the centre of a key debate within NATO, where France, Germany and Belgium have been blocking a decision they see as an implicit approval of war against Iraq.
The Dutch centre-right caretaker government has been one of the strongest
European supporters of the U.S. Iraq policy. The stand is a major hurdle
in talks to create the next government between rightist Christian Democrats
and the Labour party.
02/16/03 14:45 ET
6) US Reportedly Offers Turkey Aid
WASHINGTON (Feb. 15) - The United States is offering Turkey an economic aid package that includes about $6 billion in grants and up to $20 billion in loan guarantees in a bid to secure Ankara's support for an invasion of Iraq, sources familiar with the offer said on Saturday.
President Bush met with Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis and others at the White House on Friday, but U.S. and Turkish negotiators have yet to reach a final agreement that would allow American forces to use Turkish bases as a springboard for an invasion of Iraq from the north.
On top of an estimated $6 billion in grants, the Bush administration is offering backing for up to $20 billion in loans that Turkey could secure through private banks. As a condition for U.S. backing, the United States is demanding that the loans fall under the terms of Turkey's program with the International Monetary Fund.
It is unclear whether Ankara will accept the offer, which has ballooned in size in recent days. Turkey, which says it suffered massive economic damage from the first Gulf War, has been pressing Washington for billions of dollars more.
Once a deal is reached, Bush would submit it to Congress for approval as part of an emergency wartime budget request.
Turkey, which has a 218-mile border with Iraq, is allowing the U.S. military to modernize some bases there for possible use in a war, but has not yet given Washington permission to use them for an offensive.
The aid package, coupled with a deal to limit the number of U.S. troops in the country at any one time, could help avoid a backlash from Turks widely opposed to a war against their fellow-Muslim neighbor.
The Bush administration is finalizing separate multibillion-dollar aid packages for Israel and Jordan which, like Turkey, say they would need U.S. grants and loan guarantees to offset the economic shock of military action to disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
An Israeli delegation is due in Washington next week and hopes to quickly finalize the details of its request for $4 billion in military assistance and $8 billion in U.S.-backed loan guarantees.
Under the Israeli proposal, the United States would deduct from the face value of the loan guarantees any Israeli expenditures on settlement activities in Palestinian areas.
Washington has promised Jordan more than $1 billion in aid that could be sent to Congress for approval in coming weeks, officials said.
Egypt is also seeking U.S. help in the form of a free-trade agreement.
U.S. SWEETENS OFFER
At close to $25 billion including the loan guarantees, the Turkish package would be well above the initial U.S. offer of $14 billion, which included grants and the funds needed to support up to $10 billion in loans.
The big increase underscores just how important Turkish basing is to U.S. war-planners.
But it is unclear whether the sweetened offer would win support in Ankara, which stepped up pressure on Washington during two days of intense negotiations.
On Thursday Prime Minister Abdullah Gul backed away from a pledge to hold a parliamentary vote on Feb. 18 on whether to let an expected 30,000 U.S. troops use bases in Turkey to invade northern Iraq, saying the timing of the vote was tied to the negotiations in Washington.
The latest U.S. offer is still far below the amount Turkey was purportedly seeking. According to congressional sources, Ankara at one point asked Washington for close to $50 billion in aid -- an amount U.S. officials dismissed as excessive.
By GINA HOLLAND
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is mulling its next move in the showdown with Saddam Hussein, including a possible attempt to push a new United Nations resolution authorizing force against Iraq.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday it was becoming more obvious that the Iraqi president would not disarm voluntarily, and that the U.N. Security Council was letting him get away with it.
``The Security Council has to be an instrument of peace, but it has to be an instrument of peace that has teeth, or it is never going to be able to deal with the myriad difficult actors out there in international politics who intend to disturb that peace,'' Rice said on NBC's ``Meet the Press.''
The White House had a long holiday weekend to weigh options after being rebuffed Friday as most members of the Security Council lined up behind France's call for more weapons inspections and against military action.
Rice said on ``Fox News Sunday'' that the administration may ask the council to take up a new resolution authorizing force against Iraq, although she said that wouldn't be necessary to take action to forcibly disarm Saddam.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the same program that the plan being presented this week by America and Britain would likely call for ``definitive progress'' in the disarmament of Iraq.
``If that's rejected, then I think the United States of America is going to have to make some difficult decisions,'' McCain said.
Rice said the wording of a new resolution was not finished and that the White House would oppose a new policy statement that amounts to a ``delaying tactic.''
France has led a formidable bloc calling for extended inspections and wants to wait on a resolution at least until mid-March. Inspectors report on March 1 to the Security Council.
Meanwhile, the chief U.N. nuclear inspector said Sunday that countries opposed to using force against Iraq could change their minds if Baghdad doesn't show more willingness to reveal evidence of weapons programs.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the U.N. search for banned weapons along with Hans Blix, told The Associated Press that the onus was on Iraq, not the U.N. inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction, to prove that it had nothing to hide.
In her appearances on the Sunday talk shows, Rice repeatedly said Saddam has weeks, not months, to disarm or face a military strike.
But former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark said on ``Meet The Press'' that the White House should consider allowing inspections to seek out weapons of mass destruction and not follow an ``artificial deadline.''
``It's unlikely the inspectors will ever find the so-called smoking gun on this. But if it makes our allies more able to go to their publics and justify their support of our operation, then I think that's important,'' said Clark, who has been mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential contender.
Rice said a confrontation was inevitable with Saddam.
``Sooner or later, we believe sooner, the Security Council is going to have to say that he has not taken that final opportunity to comply, and the Security Council is going to have to act, or the United States will have to act with a coalition of the willing,'' Rice said on Fox.
She refused to speculate about the vote possibilities for another Iraq resolution.
Christopher Meyer, British ambassador to United States, said on ABC's ``This Week'' that a decision would be made in the next few days on ``the tactics and timing of a second resolution - when to do it, what to put into it, even who's going to table it.''
02/17/03 04:58 EST
By DOUG MELLGREN
.c The Associated Press
ABOARD THE USCGS BOUTWELL (AP) - Crew members from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter CGC Boutwell boarded a container ship in the northern Persian Gulf on Saturday for their first U.N.-mandated inspections since arriving from their home port in California.
The cutter is in the Gulf to aid in the international enforcement of U.N. sanctions imposed on Baghdad after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, checking incoming and outgoing vessels for contraband.
On Saturday, a dozen crew members wearing black Coast Guard life vests and helmets climbed over the side of their own ship and into inflatable boats for the short ride to the freighter Marathon II anchored nearby.
They boarded by climbing a rope ladder sent down from the bright orange Malta-registered freighter.
Later in the day, 10 more crew members joined the boarding party for a time-consuming inspection of about 450 shipping containers stacked on the Marathon II's deck. The inspection was to continue into Sunday.
``We have to inspect to make sure the (ship's cargo) manifest and cargo matches what the United Nations allows,'' said the Boutwell's captain, Scott Genovese of Lynn, Mass.
The 378-foot ship and its crew of 179 set off from their home port of Alameda, Calif., on Jan. 3 and sailed some 15,000 miles.
On a low-key, sunny Saturday aboard the white ship, it hardly seemed that the Boutwell was in a region that could become the scene of a war if the United States carries out its threat to invade Iraq to forcibly rid the country of suspected weapons on mass destruction.
The cutter could be called upon for combat duties if President Bush orders war on Iraq.
But on the ship's open aft deck, it could have been a Saturday afternoon on a pleasure yacht off the California coast, as the ship's engineers fired up a long charcoal grill to relieve the Boutwell's cooks for an evening by barbecuing 250 chicken breasts and trimmings.
``It give the cooks some time off,'' said Fireman Kyle Thompson, 24,
of Long Beach, Calif., one of the chefs for a day. ``And it lets us have
02/15/03 21:02 EST
By RAVI NESSMAN
.c The Associated Press
CAMP 93, Kuwait (AP) - While other military units train for tank battles and air assaults in Iraq, Navy Seabees are laying concrete and refreshing their bridge-building skills.
The Seabees, the Navy's construction force, may not be front-line soldiers, but their role - paving roads and building bridges for tanks and Humvees in hostile territory - may be nearly as important in the event of war in Iraq.
``We're here to support the force,'' said Naval Capt. William Rudich, commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, based at Camp 93 in northern Kuwait.
The Seabees - whose name comes from a play on Construction Battalion, or CB - were created during World War II to handle construction projects in areas too dangerous for civilian engineers.
Though they are not sappers who defuse bombs, nor the combat engineers who quickly install floating pontoon bridges to get troops across rivers, the Seabees have a legendary reputation of their own. John Wayne immortalized them in his 1944 film ``The Fighting Seabees,'' which told the story of the force's creation.
They have built bases in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War, purified water in Somalia, helped rebuild Afghanistan's demolished infrastructure and built the detention facility for Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Their motto is ``We build, we fight.'' Their symbol is a bee with a sailor's cap wielding a machine gun, a wrench and a hammer.
``We go everywhere the Marines go,'' said Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, commander of the Seabees, whose home port is Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The Seabees recently built an airfield for Marine planes at a secret location in the Kuwaiti desert. It took 60 days to build.
Many of the more than 1,000 Seabees in the region are based at Camp 93, a desert camp of tents named in honor of the passengers who fought hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.
With a clang of mallets against metal, about 25 Seabees worked Thursday to refresh their bridging skills, connecting segments of olive-green steel to create a 60-foot-long bridge to nowhere in the desert in a few hours. Then they pulled it apart.
A few hundred yards away, another team worked to assemble a longer, stronger and wider portable bridge of shiny steel that can hold 110 tons at a time.
Marine Maj. Gen. James Amos flew to Camp 93 on Thursday to present the Seabees with two Marine swords to thank them for the new airfield along with ``probably the largest ... aviation ordnance storage area since Vietnam.''
``I don't think we'd be able to do what we think we have to do had the
Seabees not been there,'' he said.
02/14/03 02:04 EST
By MARK KENNEDY
.c The Associated Press
BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) - The war room at the Bagram Air Base is open 24 hours a day, but few may enter and a sign reading ``Who Else Needs to Know?'' reminds people to keep silent about what happens here.
Inside, desks covered with laptops face a giant video monitor and U.S. military planners coordinate all combat operations in the still-dangerous eastern third of Afghanistan where allied forces hunt al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives. The mountains here may even be Osama bin Laden's hiding place.
The room is officially known as the 82nd JOC - the 82nd Airborne Division's Joint Operation Control. It has rarely been shown to reporters.
Here, two dozen or so staffers direct helicopters, planes, artillery and troops.
``This is the hub of it right here,'' said Lt. Col. Michael Shields, the senior operations officer who oversees the war room, constructed of plywood in the middle of an old airplane hangar.
The war room answers to a larger control room responsible for all combat operations in Afghanistan, but it handles the war's hottest area.
If U.S. troops are attacked, the soldiers in the war room decide how to respond. If an enemy base is detected - as recently happened during operation in the Adi Ghar mountains - the officers can direct planes and men to the location in seconds.
The room itself is a mix of old and new technology. Clunky old phones with secure lines look like World War II relics next to snazzy laptops. Up-to-date intelligence reports continually pop up in e-mail windows.
The big video monitor usually displays a digital map of Afghanistan, any section of which can be highlighted with a mouse click. Officers can zoom in so tight that a cluster of red blobs appears, pinpointing troop locations.
The officers say they try to never forget that each blip on the screen represents flesh-and-blood soldiers.
``To me, it's not in the back of my mind. It's in the forefront. That's what drives our decisions because we realize that if we make a mistake, people die,'' said Maj. Anthony Yando, who heads daytime operations.
``There's nobody up here who doesn't know what it's like to be out there,'' said Maj. Steve Devore, director of operations.
The war room is staffed around-the-clock by two shifts. If officers aren't directing an operation, they're conducting drills.
Tables and chairs are lined up in a semicircle, with the battle major and his chief of staff in the center. All decisions pass through them.
Behind them are the battle captains, in touch with the soldiers and constantly plotting their locations. On either side are battle officers monitoring communications, and intelligence officers with the latest info.
Even before a U.S. unit comes under fire, those desks likely are aware of the danger.
``Sometimes you can get little bits and pieces and start anticipating. You'll get a report that there's suspected enemy activity in a place, so you start thinking a little bit ahead,'' Devore said.
``Probably that's the most difficult thing - the fog of the battlefield. You'll have one unit reporting one piece of the information and another reporting another piece and they don't necessarily fit very well,'' Yando said.
The room's second layer is composed of an air defense artillery watch officer and a fire support officer - desks that can lob Patriot missiles against incoming aircraft and mobilize artillery. Nearby staffers maintain contact with the area aircraft.
Rounding out the team: weather forecasters; a liaison with the Afghan authorities; Army lawyers ready to consult the rules of engagement; unexploded ordnance experts; and a nuclear, biological and chemical watch officer.
On the outer edge are liaison officers representing all subordinate or sister units.
``I listen to every single one of these staff sections to tell me what's available and then based on available assets that I can send down there to support, I'll make the decision,'' Yando said.
Large paper maps like those in old war movies sit ready in the back in case the power goes out.
While tensions run high in the heat of combat, officers say cool heads will prevail.
``We don't let it get loud and we don't let it get tense,'' said Shields.
``Generally it's calm. It's got to be that way.''
02/13/03 02:59 EST
By ESTES THOMPSON
.c The Associated Press
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division began heading out Thursday for Kuwait to join thousands of United States forces already massed for a possible conflict with Iraq.
About 500 soldiers had flown out on commercial airliners by late afternoon and waves of them were scheduled to depart through the weekend. In all, about 4,000 soldiers from the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team were headed to the region.
Few family members were present because most had said their goodbyes earlier.
Spc. Ray Underwood, 29, of Clarkson, Neb., said deploying for a possible combat zone has been on his mind since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
``It's been a reality for me ever since then,'' said Underwood, whose specialty is military intelligence.
Sgt. Seth Harvey, 23, of Hammond, La., just returned three weeks ago from Afghanistan, where the 82nd has about 5,000 soldiers on duty.
``In Afghanistan, that's a guerrilla war,'' Harvey said. ``This is different. We're dealing with a large standing army and that is probably a greater threat.''
02/13/03 22:40 EST
By PAULINE JELINEK
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - A huge increase in the call-up of National Guard and reserve troops in the past week has pushed the number now serving in the counter-terror war to more than 12 percent of the total force, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
As the United States continued its buildup for a possible war with Iraq, some 38,600 were activated during the week, nearly double the previous largest weekly jump since the September 2001 attacks on America.
``Some ... will deploy to the Middle East, others will serve here in the homeland,'' said Lt. Col. Dan Stoneking, a Defense Department spokesman. ``All of them are essential to winning the war on terrorism.''
Under an order signed by Bush three days after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, up to 1 million guard and reserve troops can be called to serve for up to two years. Officials have said it is unlikely that number would be needed.
The total now serving under that order is over 150,000, said Stoneking. It stood at 58,000 just a month ago, steadily stepping up each week since then with increases of 15,000 to 20,000 until the big jump of the past week. The figures do not include guard and reserve members normally serving around the globe in a variety of missions.
Though the Pentagon doesn't specify in the weekly reports where units had been sent, a substantial portion are part of the buildup for a possible war in Iraq.
A rapid buildup for the threatened war to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has put some 130,000 American forces in the Persian Gulf region, defense officials said Wednesday. The number is expected to approach 180,000 within a a couple of weeks.
The Bush administration has said the Iraq campaign is part of the global war against terrorists because Saddam could share weapons of mass destruction with terrorist networks.
In its weekly accounting of those called to active duty for counter-terror efforts, the Pentagon said the number now activated in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve jumped to 113,750 from 80,000 the previous week; the Naval Reserve to 6,270 from 5,600; the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve to 15,700 from 11,700; the Marine Corps to 12,540 from 12,280. The Coast Guard reserve remained at about 2,000.
Since Bush signed what is called a ``partial mobilization'' order in 2001, about 200,000 have been activated, some finishing their duty and going back to civilian life. The 150,250 now serving represents a little over 12 percent of the total force of 1.22 million guard and reserve forces.
Officials described that as a substantial commitment, but said they are carefully choosing the troops according to skills needed for the effort.
``With any mobilization, we want to ensure that we have not one more, nor one less...than needed on active duty,'' said Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.
On the Net: National Guard and Reserve on active duty: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2003/d20030205ngr.pdf
02/12/03 09:27 EST
February 12, 2003
NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVE MOBILIZED AS OF FEBRUARY 12, 2003
This week the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps each
announce an increase of reservists on active duty in support of
the partial mobilization. The net collective result is 38,649
more reservists than last week.
The total number of reserve personnel currently on active duty
in support of the partial mobilization for the Army National
Guard and Army Reserve is 113,751; Naval Reserve, 6,276; Air
National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 15,704; Marine Corps
Reserve, 12,539; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 1,982. This
brings the total Reserve and National Guard on active duty to
150,252 including both units and individual augmentees.
At any given time, services may mobilize some units and
individuals while demobilizing others, making it possible for
these figures to either increase or decrease.
A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve who are
currently on active duty can be found
CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait (AP) - The key launch pad for a future war on Iraq bustles with tens of thousands of U.S. and British soldiers. Military convoys clog highways, and the entire northern half of Kuwait is being sealed off as a military operations zone.
``Every day this thing grows by leaps and bounds,'' Lt. Col. Jeffrey Helmick said.
``We're bursting at the seams,'' said Helmick, commander of the U.S. Army's 6th Transportation Battalion, which helps truck tons of supplies from ports of entry to desert camps near the Iraqi border.
Officials will say little about the total number of U.S. troops being dispatched to Kuwait before a possible war. Washington says war is likely to begin soon because Iraq has failed to rid Iraq of all biological, chemical and nuclear weapons - weapons Iraq denies it has.
About 113,000 U.S. troops are now in the Gulf, and that number is expected to climb to 150,000 by Feb. 15 - enough to launch at least the first stage of an invasion. Britain is sending 35,000 troops - including a quarter of its army and its biggest naval task force in two decades.
When troops arrive in Kuwait - usually in cargo planes or in commercial
jets chartered by the military - they travel to base camps in civilian
buses with curtains that are drawn so potential terrorists don't see in.
The timing of any possible war could be driven less by diplomatic maneuverings than by the complicated logistics required to set up and supply an invasion force. Bringing in tens of thousands of troops involves building new roads, camps and living quarters, in addition to ensuring adequate supplies of food, water, electricity, weaponry, ammunition and vehicles.
Judging from the intense activity at Kuwaiti ports, the massive military convoys blocking traffic throughout the oil-rich emirate and the words of U.S. soldiers on the ground, the job is just about done.
``We've got enough for whatever needs to be done. Now we're just continuing to reinforce it,'' said Sgt. Maj. Larry Stevens, spokesman for the 6th Transportation Battalion. ``If the commander in chief gives the order, we don't have to wait for anything.''
Camps are being set up throughout northern Kuwait, where a large ground force is massing in white tents, bustling mess halls and training grounds with shooting ranges, mock cities and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
At base camps there are gyms with state-of-the-art cardiovascular machines, movie theaters, fast-food restaurants set up in trailers and PXs stocked with everything from Coca Cola to DVDs to Mideastern tobacco pipes. A chapel set up in a tent at Camp Arifjan, the U.S. military's main logistics base south of Kuwait City, has heat, air conditioning and a digital hymn player.
This week, command-and-control systems that would be used in any strike on Iraq are being tested in a computer-generated exercise dubbed Lucky Warrior.
Kuwaiti police, U.S. Marines and an armored vehicle mounted with an M60 machine gun escorted a convoy of 30 heavy trucks carrying bulldozers, forklifts, graders and other engineering equipment across the desert Saturday from Kuwait's main sea port to Camp Virginia, a small base near the Iraqi border.
Soldiers in the convoy clutched their M16 rifles and talked of their
hopes and anxieties surrounding a possible war.
Kuwait is grateful to the United States for leading the coalition force that drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War. It has welcomed allied troops now despite an official stance opposing war without U.N. approval. The United States says it will attack if necessary, with or without a new U.N. resolution.
The entire northern half of the emirate has been declared off-limits to civilians, to the annoyance of families who normally enjoy camping in those deserts at this time of year.
Despite pervasive pro-U.S. sentiment among Kuwaitis - a rarity in the Muslim world - three serious attacks on Americans here since October have killed a U.S. Marine and an American civilian contracted to the U.S. military. Shots have been fired on U.S. convoys carrying equipment and personnel.
``We're in danger every day,'' said 2nd Lt. Sarah Groen, 23, of Haymarket, Va., who commanded Saturday's convoy.
Inside the cab of one of the convoy's trucks, two sergeants asked an army chaplain how long they'd have to be away from home.
``Wrap your mind around a year,'' said the chaplain, 37-year-old Capt.
Craig Johnson, of St. Louis, Mo. Even if a war went quickly, he told the
soldiers, there would be many humanitarian operations and other duties
to be performed in a postwar Iraq.
A DECADE ago, when the ruling sheiks in the United Arab Emirates decided to expand the local
economy after the gulf war, they turned to American military contractors like Boeing, Northrop
Grumman and Lockheed Martin for a helping hand.
In return for buying military gear, the emirates pressed the contractors
to spend millions of dollars to
create jobs and to improve the lives of citizens in their desert outposts: financing a medical diagnostic
center linked by satellite to the Mayo Clinic, building a shipyard that has created thousands of jobs,
helping with oil-spill cleanups, starting a laser-printer recycling business and even bringing Berlitz
schools to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
In another era, these gifts might be considered bribes. Now they are called
offsets. Bribes were
outlawed under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which barred payments to foreign officials
in exchange for business. But offsets, while little known, are a legal and, companies say, necessary
part of the international arms trade not only in the emirates but around the globe.
"Offsets are the equivalent of what we used to do when we bribed foreign
officials," said Robert E.
Scott, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group in Washington. "It's a
tragedy, and it's a race to the bottom. The best way to avoid these kinds of competitive and disruptive
games is to outlaw the practice."
Instead, offsets are growing. For American and European arms makers, lavish
become the key to closing deals. The Czech Republic, for one, has said that when it next buys fighter
jets, the offsets will be more important than the jets' price or performance.
"It's an essential part of doing business overseas," said Kent
Kresa, chief executive of Northrop
Grumman. "I'm not negative on it."
Although the ramp-up to potential war with Iraq and President Bush's request
for a record $380
billion Pentagon budget would suggest that military contractors have it easy, the contractors say they
must scramble for overseas sales. The Pentagon has stockpiled so many F-18 and F-16 fighter jets
and other weapons that it is only through overseas sales that many aging production lines are kept
If the public knows little about this corner of the military industry,
that is by design. Most contractors
refuse to talk about offsets. They disclose little about them to shareholders or regulators and grumble
privately that they are a "necessary evil." Yet they have done little to halt the practice.
"One reason it is hard to get people to talk about this is that it
encourages people to ask for more,"
said Pierre Chao, an industry analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston.
Offsets can be any form of aid - direct investments, agreements to help
countries export their
goods, pacts to use more foreign components in the weapons sold, even transferring subassembly jobs
American arms makers have helped the Dutch to export yarn and missile parts,
the Finns to sell rail
carriers and passenger ferries, the Swiss to sell machine tools and ball bearings, and the Norwegians
to market power-generating equipment. Lockheed had to use British-made Rolls-Royce engines
instead of ones made by General Electric to power Apache attack helicopters sold in Europe. And, in
a sale of F-16's to Poland, Lockheed agreed to have the jets' engines built there.
Military contractors say they have been brokers for imported figs, tomato
paste and wine; for years,
McDonnell Douglas, now part of Lockheed, provided Christmas hams to its employees under a
fighter-jet offset deal with Denmark.
THE whole system is mad," said Kevin L. Kearns, president of the United States Business and
Industrial Council, which represents small businesses, many of them military subcontractors.
"Everything about offsets is totally counter to a free-trade philosophy. If we have the world's best
armaments, other countries should buy them free and clear. The mice here are in charge of the
So complicated are offsets that most major contractors have entire departments
to devise them and to
twist the arms of suppliers into participating as well. Contractors usually agree to pay damages if they
fail to deliver on a deal; in practice, though, offset agreements that run into trouble are often
Officially, the federal government frowns on offsets as economically inefficient
and bars the use of
taxpayer dollars to finance them. They are negotiated directly by American contractors with foreign
governments, though the Commerce Department keeps data on them.
Those statistics show that more than 120 countries require offsets in military
sales. In 1998, the last
year of available figures, American contractors signed 41 agreements with 17 countries. From 1993
to 1998, they provided $21 billion in aid to foreign countries under 279 agreements. Lockheed has
entered into more than 300 offset arrangements in more than 30 countries in the last two decades.
New data, as yet unreleased, will show increases across the board, said Daniel O. Hill, director of the
Commerce Department's office of strategic industries.
Aside from obvious distortions they cause in global trade, offsets have
cost the United States
thousands of precious manufacturing jobs, unions say. A 2001 presidential commission on offsets
found that they led to an annual loss of 4,200 manufacturing jobs in the 1990's, mostly among
"The government does not know the full impact of these deals because
there is such a lack of
information," said Owen E. Herrnstadt, director of the international department of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "It's a puzzle that policy makers have yet to put
together, and the threat is growing. Workers are being sacrificed."
Contractors say privately that they are not happy, either. Many complain
that they must spend a lot of
time and money putting together offset deals - an activity far from their core skills. Some fear that
as American contractors send jobs and technology overseas, they are undercutting their own future.
Under a $3.3 billion agreement for the sale of 40 F-15K Strike Eagle jets
to South Korea, Boeing will
transfer jobs and skills to South Korea that will enable it to produce its own fighter jet by 2015. Korea
will be given avionic, software and design technology that Boeing values at $1.5 billion, and while the
plane's final assembly will be done by Boeing in St. Louis, the wings and front fuselage will be made
Contractors say the leaders of many countries, particularly those in developing
offsets as political cover to justify the billions spent on military goods.
"From a general industry perspective, while we'd prefer that offsets
did not exist, most companies
would say that we are pretty good at them," said Michael Messina, chairman of the Defense Industry
Offset Association, a group of military contractors. "If U.S. companies did not provide offsets, we
would not have the business in the first place. Half a loaf is better than none."
In a survey of eight large contractors, the 2001 commission found that
seven estimated that they
would lose 50 to 90 percent of foreign sales without offsets, while one said eliminating them would
have little or no effect.
While no contractor contacted for this article would comment, one leading
arms maker did allow a
senior vice president to be interviewed as long as neither he nor the company was identified. The
executive, who oversees foreign sales, said the end of offsets would force many contractors to shut
production lines; he specifically cited lines for the F-18 and F-15 jets (made by Boeing) and the
C-130J transport aircraft (made by Lockheed).
"If and when there is a multilateral agreement so that offsets would
go away, we would be delighted,"
he said. "But until that day, let's not take the risk."
In Congress, Representative John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts,
has tried for years to curb
offsets. "This is a very serious problem," he said. "We tried to move on this issue, but we got no
traction. I don't think the industry is as upset as it claims to be; otherwise there would be more done
Some in the industry say as much. "We have the world's largest defense
industry, companies and
economy," said Joel J. Johnson, vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association. "We can do
offsets no sweat and better than anyone. I'm not sure we want to get rid of them when we have a
Offsets began after World War II, based on the theory that co-production
agreements were needed
to help European countries rebuild military-industrial bases and resist communism. Communism died,
and European arms makers were back on their feet - but offsets stayed.
"Once the genie was let out of the bottle," said Mr. Chao, of
Credit Suisse, "it was impossible to put it
back in as nations figured out how they could use the offsets game."
According to government data, the biggest recipients of offsets are among
the most sophisticated
countries: Finland, Britain, Israel, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Switzerland's presence on the list
irks some critics, who say that the country is so rich that it needs little help and that its policy of
neutrality means no American security interests are at play.
Israel, too, raises eyebrows. It is one of two countries - Egypt is the
other - that receive direct
American military aid to buy American-made weaponry; but unlike Egypt, Israel insists on offsets.
In 1999, according to the Commerce Department, the United States gave Israel
$1.86 billion in
military aid, with the requirement that the bulk be spent on American goods. With this money, Israel
has pitted American contractors against one another. Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas were once
in an offset competition for a $2 billion fighter jet deal. Because of the technology it gained through
these offsets, Israel has developed its own weapons systems and competes against American
contractors for orders.
Critics have called Israel's actions double dipping, and the Commerce Department
asked Congress to
halt it in 1998, but the proposal had no political support.
THE United Arab Emirates, a federation the size of Maine at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, has
one of the most sophisticated programs for offsets, important to its economic development. Since the
country set up an office to attract offsets in 1992, it has received offsets totaling $680 million. Millions
more are expected now that it has announced a $7 billion purchase of 80 F-16's from Lockheed.
The French have also established a big presence in the emirates, pumping
money into everything from
a fish farm to a nursery with four million roses to a date-palm cloning operation. The French are also
financing a huge air-conditioning project to cool the country's shopping malls and office towers.
To make life easier for the contractors, the emirates have even set up
a $20 million venture capital
fund, the Chescor Capital Offset fund.
"We've come up with a pretty aggressive offset program," said
Nasri Tehini, a partner in Chesco
Capital. "Our country has been put on the map, and one of the reasons is offsets."
One centerpiece of the emirates' program is Abu Dhabi Ship Building, which
makes warships and
commercial vessels; Northrop Grummman owned 30 percent of the company before selling it in late
So eager was Northrop to make inroads there that it made this investment
as a "pre offset" for future
ship orders that never materialized. Northrop declined to comment, but American shipbuilders are
"We view this as tantamount to war," said Cynthia Brown, president
of the American Shipbuilding
Association, a trade group. "The U.S. government should be insisting that foreign governments cease
offset policies. They are killing our industry. It's like Pac-Man. It breeds industry cannibalism to the
detriment of the U.S. taxpayer."