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U.S. Poised For War - 2003-03-19


With the United States poised for war more than a quarter of a million U.S. troops are now making final preparation for a military attack to disarm Saddam Hussein.

VOA-TV’s Chris Simkins with more.

Two Hundred fifty thousand U.S. and British soldiers in the Middle East woke up to the news Tuesday that war with Iraq may be just days away.

Across the region American forces ended their training exercises and began making final preparations for battle. Military analysts say the war is likely to begin with a fierce bombing campaign from the air followed by a full-scale ground invasion.

Aboard Aircraft Carriers in the Persian Gulf, jets were on the move. Crews also began loading precision guided bombs onto the fighter jets. The sailors say they are ready as soon as they get the word.

“I’m ready to go, my squadron is ready to go even as we speak were getting the airplanes ready.”

U.S. military commanders vow this war will be decisive. They say the strategy is to strike hard and swiftly, shocking the Iraqis into surrendering.

Marines in Kuwait are packing up their personal belongings and moving out to staging areas on the Iraqi border.

We are constantly preparing but now it’s happening and most of the Marines are a little on edge.

In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein appeared on television Tuesday meeting with his military generals. The Iraqi President, dressed in his military uniform, flatly rejected the U.S. demand that he and his sons leave the country.

At the same time the Iraqi military is training thousands of Arab volunteers who vow to fight. This volunteer says we are going to send American soldiers home in body bags.

But U.S. troops are on guard, especially against a preemptive Iraqi chemical attack. In a VOA-TV interview U.S. congressman Joe Wilson, a member of the House Armed Services Committee said they are ready.

“We will be able to survive and then go after the people who did this and if anyone uses chemical weapons they then themselves will be brought before a world war crimes court.

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials are hopeful the Turkish Parliament will allow thousands of U.S. soldiers to be deployed there. Earlier this month lawmakers rejected that but a new vote is expected in the next day or two.

American forces hope to set up a Northern front into Iraq from Turkey to complement the soldiers and Marines in the south who will fight their way from Kuwait to Baghdad.