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Build-up Continues - 2003-02-13

The United States continues its massive military build-up in the Middle East for a possible war in Iraq. This as Kuwait declares, on February 15 the northern part of the country, which borders Iraq, is being zoned exclusively for the military. VOA-TV’s Deborah Block reports.

Kuwait is starting to resemble one huge military camp. U.S. troops in the Middle East now total some 110,000, nearly half of them in Kuwait. Convoys from Kuwait head north toward the Iraqi border. Besides large numbers of tanks and armored personnel carriers, equipment such as bulldozers is brought into U.S. camps to build new roads, and makeshift airstrips. They can also be used to move obstacles on a battlefield.

Every day, large convoys leave Camp Arifjan, the U.S. Army’s main logistical depot in Kuwait, and head to a nearby port. The convoys deliver the equipment to camps such as Camp Virginia , one of many army bases in the country.

Camp Arifjan is home to thousands of troops and civilian maintenance contractors. The dry, dusty climate of Kuwait is new to some of them, but some of the food is not since fast-food shops opened up.

Meanwhile, ships like the USS Truman are ready to provide support. The ship is equipped to fly missions into Iraq and strike targets in the region from its current position in the Adriatic Sea.

At various military installations across the United States, people and equipment continue to be shipped out.

In Florida, just before dawn, an Army air assault division packed up helicopters. Soldiers are saying goodbye to their loved ones. Griselda Orozco and Marina Gonzalez are being deployed from Travis Air Force Base in California. They recently graduated from the same California high school and are now in the National Guard together. After only six months of entering the military they were deployed.

MARINA GONZALEZ “We were shocked. My friends were in tears. It was so sudden.” NARRATOR Others, such as this national guardsman leaving from Oregon, was asked whether it was worth leaving his family.

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN “Yes, it is, because it’s what I signed up to do. It’s defending the Constitution, defending the state of Oregon.”

NARRATOR But U.S. troops are not the only ones leaving for the Middle East. In Australia, at a farewell ceremony, this group of soldiers said goodbye to their families as they, too, leave for the Gulf.