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US Concludes Large Scale Military Exercises in Kuwait - 2002-12-22

The U.S. military has just concluded exercises in Kuwait, the largest ever held in the Middle East. The long-planned war games involving thousands of troops come at a critical time, as the United States prepares for a possible military attack on Iraq.

The U.S. Army held live-fire exercises on Saturday and Sunday, the culmination of a series of training missions held in Kuwait over the past several weeks.

The war games, involving nearly 15,000 soldiers and hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers and attack helicopters, had been planned months in advance. But they have taken on added significance in recent days, as the United States may be drawing closer to a decision on whether to take military action against Iraq.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the United States views Iraq to be in material breach of U.N. Resolution 1441 that demands Iraq fully account for its chemical, nuclear and biological weapons programs.

Material breach is the language in the U.N. resolution that is the trigger for possible serious consequences, including military action.

The secretary said that no decision has yet been made to attack Iraq. But U.S. soldiers and equipment are continuing to pour into Kuwait, an oil-rich country that Iraq invaded a dozen years ago.

Kuwait, along with neighboring Qatar, are two of the United States' key military allies in the region. A major U.S. command base was set up in Qatar earlier this month for possible use in a war with Iraq.