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U.S. Conducts War Games in Qatar - 2002-12-11

Military exercises continue in the Middle East. In the Kuwaiti desert, U.S. tanks and armored personnel carriers maneuvered Sunday, practicing so-called "force on force", with some of the U.S. forces playing the "enemy". The tanks used a laser system to fire on each other. This was alternated with "live firing" practice. About 1,000 soldiers and 200 vehicles took part. An armored battalion was involved so no infantry took part. It's part of what they're calling "operation internal look".

Officials deny it is a dry run for a real war with Iraq. But U.S. troops are closely watching the political situation. Army first lieutenant Keith Zeiber commands a mortar platoon.

"Everybody just seems to be taking the training a little bit more seriously.”

All of this being coordinated from a new, portable central command center well hidden in the desert of Qatar, testing links to bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

At its core, senior U.S. military officers, led by General Tommy Franks, watching events on giant screen television and communicating by videophone. U.S. Senator Joseph Biden was there, in person.

"I think that to the extent that people think we were prepared for the first Persian Gulf War as they say where I come from, 'they ain't seen nuthin'(nothing) yet'.”

The week-long exercises began Sunday, aimed at improving decisions made on a modern battlefield. The leaders of the U.S. Central Command have not forgotten the hard-learned lessons of Mogadishu, 1993, when faulty intelligence, vulnerable helicopters and communication failures led to the deaths of 18 American soldiers in one day.