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U.S. orders another 60,000 to Persian Gulf

Deployment would put 310,000 troops in region

From Barbara Starr and Jamie McIntyre.

Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division practice first aid Monday. The division's 17,000 soldiers are among the 60,000 troops who have received orders to ship out to the Persian Gulf, defense officials said Monday.
Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division practice first aid Monday. The division's 17,000 soldiers are among the 60,000 troops who have received orders to ship out to the Persian Gulf, defense officials said Monday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With the United States beefing up its military might around Iraq, another 60,000 troops -- including all 17,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division -- received orders to deploy to the Persian Gulf region, military officials said Monday.

The newly deployed troops would bring the number of forces in the Central Command region to about 310,000. The United States has more than 250,000 troops deployed, of which about 215,000 are in the immediate gulf region.

The troops who received the latest deployment orders were described as "follow-on forces," not part of the main invasion force that would take part in any war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, U.S. B-52 bombers, which could be used to launch cruise missiles when a war begins, arrived in England on Monday.

The 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, was included in the deployment orders signed Friday. The heavy-armor division includes Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, artillery and support units.

Officials also said the 1st Armored Division, a heavy-armor unit headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, is to deploy. That will add another 15,000 to 17,000 troops, plus tanks, vehicles and armor.

Pentagon looks to Plan B

The Turkish parliament voted last weekend not to allow U.S. troops to use the country's bases during a war with Iraq. As the administration waits to see if Turkey will have a change of heart, the Pentagon is moving ahead with an alternate plan to invade Iraq with or without Turkish support.

"If the president makes the decision to use force, whatever route militarily chosen, it will lead to military success," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

Sources said the Pentagon decided weeks ago to send the entire 20,000-member 101st Airborne Division to Kuwait as a backup, so the United States would not have to wait for the heavier 4th Infantry Division to either get into Turkey or move to Kuwait.

"The U.S. will go in with other means; lighter forces to take down the targets in northern Iraq, probably more paratrooper, air assault with helicopter techniques," said CNN military analyst David Grange, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general.

Under that option, the United States would rely on seizing forward bases in Iraq and would not be able to move as many forces into the north as quickly.

"It will be more risk involved and may cause more casualties, and probably take longer," Grange said.

Washington would prefer to use two aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean to launch planes into northern Iraq by way of Turkey, But Plan B calls for those carriers to move south into the Red Sea so planes could fly over Saudi Arabia, as was done in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War.

Sources say a sixth carrier, the USS Nimitz, which should arrive in the region by early April, could be used in any potential conflict.

More missiles destroyed

Meanwhile Monday, Iraq destroyed six more of about 100 Al Samoud 2 missiles, according to U.N. officials, but Baghdad has threatened to stop the process if it becomes clear the United States intends to go to war.

Baghdad destroyed 10 missiles last weekend, according to U.N. officials.

The Al Samoud 2 missiles are being destroyed at Taji, the primary location for Iraq's long-range missile program. The military installment north of Baghdad houses a storage facility for the missiles.

The missiles were ordered destroyed because U.N. inspectors said they have a range beyond the 93 miles [150 kilometers] allowed under U.N. resolutions.

The Iraqi presidential scientific adviser, Gen. Amer Al-Saadi, said Sunday that his "task is to remove all excuses for waging war in the legal way ... that is, the U.N. route.

"If Iraq is not in material breach on that count, then if war takes place, if war happens, it's not because Iraq has not done all it could regarding disarmament," Al-Saadi said.

However, he added, "If it turns out that in early stages during this month, America is not going the legal way ... why should we continue?"

Separately, Iraqi scientists said they will report back to U.N. weapons inspectors in a week about confirming Baghdad's claims that all the nation's anthrax and VX nerve agent stockpiles have been destroyed, U.N. officials said. Weapons inspectors have expressed skepticism that the claims can be verified. (Full story)

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