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Qatar 'War Games' Seen as Preparation for the Real Thing - 2002-12-09

More than 1,000 top military strategists from the United States and Britain are in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar for war games. The training exercise is widely seen as a rehearsal for a possible invasion of Iraq.

The exercise is called "Internal Look." It is designed to test the ability of senior military staff to run a war from a state-of-the-art, portable, high-tech headquarters.

Gathered in front of a giant-sized computer screen and armed with sophisticated high-speed communications equipment, U.S. Navy, Army, and Marine Corps commanders are testing their ability to monitor and direct troop movements by communicating simultaneously with numerous military positions.

More than 1,000 senior U.S. and British military personnel are in Qatar for the exercise, which is the fourth in a series of war games since 1990.

The original war games were used to develop battle plans for the U.S.-led operation that forced Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. This is the first time the exercise is being conducted outside the United States.

Although no combat troops are involved in "Internal Look," thousands of military personnel worldwide are taking part. The exercise is under the command of Army General Tommy Franks, commander of all U.S. forces in the Gulf region.

U.S. officials have said the advanced communications mobile command center would remain in Qatar following the 7 to 10 day exercise, fueling speculation it would be used in the event of an attack on Iraq.

U.S. Senators Joseph Biden and Chuck Hagel visited the command center Sunday. Senator Biden was quoted as saying if people thought U.S. forces were coordinated before to the Gulf war, "they have not seen anything yet."

More than 4,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed in Qatar, which has become home to the biggest warehouse of U.S. military and munitions supplies in the Middle East.