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March 29, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Pentagon May Speed Up Iraq Reinforcements
Pentagon Considering Speeding Up Flow of Combat Forces to Iraq War

The Associated Press


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WASHINGTON March 29

The Pentagon may send some reinforcements to Iraq sooner than scheduled, and the number of U.S. and allied forces in the Persian Gulf region now exceeds 290,000, officials said Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told a news conference that part of the Army's 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, from Fort Polk, La., might go earlier than originally planned, but he did not know when.

"There are discussions under way about potentially moving up part of its force to an earlier deployment," said McChrystal, vice director of operations for the Pentagon's Joint Staff

The Pentagon never announced a deployment date for the 2nd Armored, but officials have said the unit was to begin arriving in the Gulf in early May. One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some of the unit's equipment may be airlifted to the Gulf ahead of schedule.

The 2nd Armored is a lighter force than traditional armored cavalry regiments; in fact it has no tanks. Its heaviest vehicles are gun-mounted Humvee utility vehicles. The unit also has an aviation squadron.

McChrystal said recent news reports of 100,000 additional forces being deployed to Iraq may have given the mistaken impression that Gen. Tommy Franks, the war commander, decided after the battle began that he needed more troops on the ground.

The extra forces were in plans months ago, McChrystal said, and nothing that has happened on the battlefield thus far has changed the deployment plan, which he described as flexible.

He did not say why elements of the 2nd Armored might go early.

The other forces designated for future deployment are the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Carson, Colo., and the 1st Armored Division from Germany.

Of the 290,000 U.S. and British forces in the Gulf area, more than one-third are in Iraq, he said. The troop total is 20,000 more than announced on Friday. The next major U.S. unit to deploy in full is the Army's 4th Infantry Division, which is en route now. The first ships containing the division's equipment is expected to arrive at a Kuwaiti port within days.

McChrystal also gave an update on U.S. weapons used so far. He said 6,000 precision-guided munitions have been dropped by warplanes, and 675 Tomahawk cruise missiles have been launched from the air and sea.

U.S. and coalition aircraft flew more than 1,000 missions over Iraq on Friday, McChrystal said.

Seven Tomahawk cruise missiles just over 1 percent of those fired have missed their targets because of apparent mechanical malfunctions, the general said.

The U.S. military agreed on Saturday to temporarily suspend Tomahawk launches from the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea because some missiles had fallen into Turkey and Saudi Arabia on their flight paths to Iraq.

Also at the news conference, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, showed a videotape of an Iraqi woman who spoke in English about her 16-year-old niece having been tortured by Iraqi security forces.

Clarke also showed a BBC documentary about Iraq's use of chemical weapons against civilian Kurds at Halabja in 1988.

She was asked later whether she showed the videos as a counterweight to Iraqi television images of civilian casualties in Baghdad blamed on U.S. bombing. Clarke said she did it because she believed Americans did not fully understand the brutality of Saddam's rule.

Responding to reports that an Iraqi suicide attack had killed four U.S. servicemen, McChrystal said the military would work to shore up protections of military checkpoints and other sites.

The attack "looks and feels like terrorism," McChrystal said. "To protect our soldiers clearly requires great care."

The attack occurred at a highway checkpoint near the central Iraqi city of Najaf. An Army officer said the driver of the car had signaled for help and then detonated explosives as the soldiers approached.

The Pentagon said the number of American deaths in the war with Iraq stood at 36, including 29 soldiers killed in action. The others were nonhostile deaths, the military said.


photo credit and caption:
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clark speaks about the torture undergone by Iraqis under Saddam Hussein's regime as she and as Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal brief the media at the Pentagon Saturday, March 29, 2003. In all, 290,000 coalition forces are in the Persian Gulf region in support of combat operations, and more than one-third of those troops are in Iraq, McChrystal said Saturday. (AP Photo/Heesoon Yim)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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