Army ground forces mobilized in US terror response (update) : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Bloomberg News

09/20 15:30

Army Ground Forces Mobilized in U.S. Terror Response (Update2)

By Tony Capaccio

Washington, Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Army ground forces are being mobilized to participate in any military campaign against terrorist organizations, Army Secretary Thomas White told reporters. ``A deployment order has been issued, forces are moving and on the Army side,'' White said in the first official confirmation that ground troops are staging for a likely U.S. retaliation against those involved in last week's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday signed the first deployment orders for the Air Force, authorizing the movement of up to 100 bombers, fighter interceptors, aerial refueling tankers and reconnaissance aircraft to the Persian Gulf region. The Navy has two aircraft carrier battle groups in the region, with a third on the way.

The troop movements come as President George W. Bush prepares to address the nation and a joint session of Congress tonight, and as the administration continues to enlist support of allies.

Aircraft Movements

Air Force officials confirmed that one fighter base and two bomber bases have so far received deployment orders. The 1st Fighter Squadron, Langley Virginia, home of F-15C fighter interceptors, has received orders.

The bomber bases are Ellsworth Air Force Base, where 26 B- 1b's are stationed with 3,000 personnel, 10 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota and Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota where 36 B-52 bombers and 3,500 personnel are stationed.

Likewise, the Air Force's only C-17 transport unit in the eastern United States has received deployment orders -- the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston, South Carolina.

Three of the Air Force's most capable aircraft units have not yet received deployment orders, according to base spokesmen. They are F-15E fighter bombers based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; F-117 Stealth fighters at Hollman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft at Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia.

Troop Movements

Rumsfeld said the forces are being positioned to respond when Bush orders action. He said the attack on terrorism that the president promised ``will occur in different places, at different time, in different ways.'' ``We're trying to get ourselves arranged in the world with our forces in places that we believe conceivably could be useful in the event the president decided to use them for one thing or another,'' Rumsfeld said.

He suggested any U.S. action would extend beyond individuals responsible for last week's attacks to those ``harboring, facilitating, financing or even tolerating'' terrorists.

Underscoring the administration's concern that any military action not being viewed as a war against Islam, Rumsfeld said the campaign's preliminary name of ``Infinite Justice'' was under review because it may be offensive to the Islamic faith. In the Islamic religion, the only Allah can grant `Infinite Justice,' not a nation or government. The name was first broadcast on CNN and quickly picked up by other media.

``The United States does not want to do anything that creates an impression on the part of the listener that would be a misunderstanding and clearly that would be,'' Rumsfeld said. ``I have heard that someone, somewhere in some place selected those words and in some preliminary aspect of things used them. Whether they will persist --given what I was aware of, I don't know the answer, but I doubt it,'' Rumsfeld said.

`Key Component'

While White wouldn't identify specific units in the Army deployment, he said special forces will be a key component. ``I think the Rangers and special operating forces will play a prominent role in any campaign we conduct, as they have in past campaigns,'' he said. Rangers, Green Berets and the secret 1st Operational Detachment Delta, headquartered in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, have been involved in every U.S. military operation since the 1983 invasion of Grenada.

During the opening hours of the 1989 Panama invasion, for example, Delta commandos rescued an American businessman held captive by General Manuel Noriega's regime. Air Force special operations AC-130 gunships pummeled his primary military headquarters.

It's likely new AC-130U Boeing Co. gunships based at Hurlburt Field, Florida, that can spot targets through clouds and shoot with a howitzer and specialized Gatling guns will also be deployed to support ground operations.

`Initial Stage'

White underscored the administration's theme that America should prepare for a long effort. ``Everyone should focus on the fact that this is an initial stage of a broad campaign -- broad in terms of its dimension, its elements and timing,'' White said. ``Our long-standing emphasis on a balanced force -- heavy, light and special operating forces -- is what this campaign will require.''

One of the units most likely to deploy first is the 82nd Airborne Division. The division in 1997 and 2000 participated in long-range parachute drops into Kazakhstan as part of joint peacekeeping exercises with troops from an elite``Central Asia Battalion'' representing Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Members of the 82nd flew non-stop from Fort Bragg -- over 20 hours and 8,000 miles on Boeing Co. C-17s, receiving three aerial refueling from tankers based at the U.S. Air Base in Moron, Spain. The division hasn't received orders yet.

-- Swissrose (, September 20, 2001

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