Skip to comments.Army, Marine Corps units to move headquarters to Kuwait: officials
Posted on 10/11/2002 8:32:26 PM PDT by HAL9000
WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (AFP) - Two key US military headquarters are preparing to move to Kuwait as the Pentagon quietly gathers strength in the Gulf, US defense officials said Friday.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said fewer than 1,000 troops would be moved with the US Army's 5th Corps headquarters in Europe and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters in California.
But they would lay the foundation for a much larger combat force on the ground if President George W. Bush decides to launch a major military action against Iraq.
"The purpose is to get things into position to respond quickly if you're asked," a US defense official said. "We're not there yet."
The Pentagon had previously announced plans to move elements of the Central Command's headquarters from Tampa, Florida, to Qatar in November as part of an exercise that could form the nucleus of a permanent US command in the region.
The army moved its regional headquarters for the Gulf to Kuwait from the United States earlier this year.
CBS News first reported that the Pentagon had ordered the 5th Corps and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to relocate their headquarters to Kuwait.
In confirming the report, the officials would not say how soon they are expected to begin the move.
The Fifth Corps and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are frontline combat forces that saw action in the 1991 Gulf War and have been used since in military contingencies from Somalia to the Balkans.
Headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, the Fifth Corps consists of the 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division.
It is the only US Army corps headquartered outside the United States and it is the designated force for contingencies in Europe and the Gulf.
About 5,000 of the command's troops currently are training in Poland.
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, California, is built around air-ground task forces that can move swiftly to distant theaters of war.
The Pentagon in recent months has quietly moved armor, helicopters and other equipment from Europe and the United States to the Gulf region, as well as within the theater.
Equipment for at least three armored brigades are currently positioned in Kuwait.
A Navy spokeswoman said the Navy plans to ship 867 pieces of "rolling stock" from the US west coast to the Gulf. It was unclear when it will move but the Navy had planned for a mid-November delivery.
Additionally, the navy has solicited bids for a cargo ship to move 253 pieces of wheeled and track vehicles from Belgium and Italy to undisclosed points in the Middle East.
It was unclear whether the shipments were related to the headquarters moves.
The equipment "is going over there because we are repositioning some of our military forces where required to prepare for and support the president's campaign against terrorism," said Major Rob Riggle, a Central Command spokesman.
The overall number of US forces in the region has crept up to about 58,000, but US force levels have so far remained relatively stable.
The United States currently maintains a single aircraft carrier in the region, the USS Abraham Lincoln.
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