U.S. expanding war on terrorism
(CNN) -- The U.S. war on terrorism is moving beyond Afghanistan, with more troops being deployed in various countries to aid or train forces fighting against terrorist groups linked to al Qaeda.
The latest country to be reported is Yemen. The U.S. is preparing to send a small contingent of troops to the country to help train its forces and share intelligence.
The main focus remains in Afghanistan: Roughly 4,000 troops remain on the ground, and Air Force and Navy planes and warships continue to operate in the region.
Below is a look at where the U.S. military has deployed troops or is debating whether to do so in the ongoing war on terrorism.
In Afghanistan, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division are in charge of the U.S. military base established at Kandahar International Airport after replacing a U.S. Marine contingent in January.
Soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division are stationed at Bagram Air Base, north of the Afghan capital Kabul. Bagram also serves at the main base of operations for the various special operations units pursuing Taliban and al Qaeda fighters that remain in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Navy still has two battle groups in the Arabian Sea, led by the aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Theodore Roosevelt. And Air Force B-1 and B-52 bombers also are still available at the joint U.S.-British air base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.
U.S. military officials said up to 200 troops could be sent to the former Soviet republic of Georgia in a non-combat role within weeks. There, they would train Georgian troops to use U.S.-supplied equipment and root out suspected terrorists along the central Asian country's border with Russia. Pentagon sources said between 45 and 200 U.S. Army and Air Force special forces would provide training and equipment to Georgian forces.
The troops would train Georgian troops so they can patrol the lawless Pankisi Gorge along the Georgia border with Chechnya, the breakaway Russian republic. Russia says Chechen rebels have bases in the gorge, and the United States says some of those Chechen guerillas have been joined by al Qaeda fighters who traveled from Afghanistan both before and after September 11. The U.S. troops would be located near the capital of Tblisi, far from the Pankisi Gorge.
In mid-October, the United States transferred 10 unarmed UH-1 Huey helicopters to help the Caucasus republic overcome its force mobility problems. A team consisting of one U.S. service member and seven contractors is currently in Georgia helping with the transfer and maintenance of the helicopters.
Nearly 1,000 U.S. Air Force personnel are in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan to prepare an ex-Soviet airfield into a forward staging base. The base, outside the capital of Bishkek, is named for New York City Fire Department Chief Peter J. Ganci Sr., who died on September 11. The base eventually will be home to a variety of aircraft from several nations in the anti-terror coalition, including cargo and refueling aircraft, attack fighters and search and rescue aircraft.
Pakistan has allowed the use of three airfields by the coalition forces operating inside Afghanistan. Dalbandin Air Base in western Pakistan has played a role in coalition operations, along with airfields in Jacobabad, about 150 miles from the Afghan border in south-central Pakistan; and Pasni, a coastal military base along the Arabian Sea, about 125 miles from the Iranian border.
The United States has sent more than 600 troops to aid the Philippine government in battling the Abu Sayyaf rebel group on the island of Basilan, including Special Forces units. The Special Forces are deployed in groups of 12 with 10 Philippine battalions in war games exercises that are not expected to last more than six months.
Abu Sayyaf, a militant Muslim group U.S. officials have linked to the al Qaeda terror organization, is based on Basilan, about 560 miles south of Manila. The group is the smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines. It is designated one of 29 foreign terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.
The group wants to create an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, areas in the southern Philippines heavily populated by Muslims. The State Department estimates the group's strength at roughly 200 fighters.
Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division first deployed to Uzbekistan in October 2001. The troops are based at a former Soviet airfield near the Afghan-Uzbek border. More than 1,000 troops are reported to be stationed there. The soldiers have provided support to U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, including the rescue of four Green Berets and an Air Force combat controller during the Taliban prison uprising outside Mazar-i Sharif in November.
The Pentagon has said it does not plan to establish a permanent base in Uzbekistan. However, the country does have its own Muslim insurgency, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the U.S. State Department has designated a terrorist organization last year. The U.S. Central Command also recently signed a military cooperation agreement with the Uzbek Ministry of Defense to conduct visits by the U.S. military to Uzbekistan for discussions and conferences with their counterparts and vice versa.
The United States is prepared to send a small contingent of troops into Yemen to assist that nation's effort to root out al Qaeda and other terrorist cells, a senior U.S. official told CNN. The emphasis of the still-evolving operation would be to train Yemeni forces and share intelligence, the official said. Yemen is located at the southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East.
This official was unsure of the number of U.S. troops likely to be involved, but said the number is likely to be "considerably less" than the roughly 600 U.S. troops deployed to the Philippines to help that nation's crackdown against the Abu Sayyaf terror network.
Air Force Brig. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., deputy director for operations on the Joint Staff, said Friday the operation may include military advisers, but he declined to give specifics.
"We keep all options open, as you know. But until the final decision is made, it would be inappropriate to speculate on what we will put in there and what that package will look like," he said.
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