US Army ready for 'sustained land combat'

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The Independent US

The US Army is ready to conduct "sustained land combat operations" as part of President Bush's promised war against terrorism, the Army's top civilian official said today.

Army Secretary Thomas E. White told reporters at the Pentagon that a deployment order signed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday includes Army as well as Air Force troops. He said it was only the first step in a broader military plan that would unfold in the weeks ahead. "A lot more will come," he said.

Mr White declined to say which Army forces are included in the initial deployment, but he made clear that his service is gearing up for a lengthy war that would involve every aspect of the Army's combat power.

"We are ready to conduct sustained land combat operations as determined by the secretary of defense and the president," White said.

"We are ready to deliver it across the whole array of force structure – heavy, light, airmobile, airborne, special operations. All of the combat capabilities."

He said Army special operations forces, such as Rangers and Green Berets, almost certainly will play an important role in the war on terrorism, although he declined to be specific. "I am sure that this campaign will involve them, and they are ready to go," he said.

Separate from the order to send Air Force planes to the Persian Gulf area, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the ships in its battle group left their home port at Virginia on Wednesday for a scheduled six–month deployment to the Mediterranean.

The deployment from Norfolk includes more than 15,000 sailors and Marines, including 2,100 Marines aboard a battle–ready unit known as an Amphibious Ready Group, led by the assault ship USS Bataan.

The Theodore Roosevelt battle group includes two attack submarines, the USS Hartford and the USS Springfield, both capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Navy already has one carrier battle group in the Gulf – the USS Carl Vinson – and a second, the USS Enterprise, is in the Arabian Sea to the south.

Sending land–based Air Force jet fighters to the Gulf would give the Pentagon leeway to move the Carl Vinson into the Arabian Sea, closer to Afghanistan, while maintaining enough aircraft to continue enforcing the "no fly" zone over southern Iraq. Airplanes aboard the Vinson have been making those patrols.

The United States is welcoming offers of military support from allies and friendly nations. Britain already has substantial forces in the Gulf area as part of a long–planned joint exercise with Oman. These include an aircraft carrier, four frigates, two destroyers, other ships and group troops. The Ministry of Defense says it is Britain's largest naval deployment since the 1982 Falklands War.

The US Army is ready to conduct "sustained land combat operations" as part of President Bush's promised war against terrorism, the Army's top civilian official said today.

Army Secretary Thomas E. White told reporters at the Pentagon that a deployment order signed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday includes Army as well as Air Force troops. He said it was only the first step in a broader military plan that would unfold in the weeks ahead. "A lot more will come," he said.

Mr White declined to say which Army forces are included in the initial deployment, but he made clear that his service is gearing up for a lengthy war that would involve every aspect of the Army's combat power.

"We are ready to conduct sustained land combat operations as determined by the secretary of defense and the president," White said.

"We are ready to deliver it across the whole array of force structure – heavy, light, airmobile, airborne, special operations. All of the combat capabilities."

He said Army special operations forces, such as Rangers and Green Berets, almost certainly will play an important role in the war on terrorism, although he declined to be specific. "I am sure that this campaign will involve them, and they are ready to go," he said.

Separate from the order to send Air Force planes to the Persian Gulf area, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the ships in its battle group left their home port at Virginia on Wednesday for a scheduled six–month deployment to the Mediterranean.

The deployment from Norfolk includes more than 15,000 sailors and Marines, including 2,100 Marines aboard a battle–ready unit known as an Amphibious Ready Group, led by the assault ship USS Bataan.

The Theodore Roosevelt battle group includes two attack submarines, the USS Hartford and the USS Springfield, both capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Navy already has one carrier battle group in the Gulf – the USS Carl Vinson – and a second, the USS Enterprise, is in the Arabian Sea to the south.

Sending land–based Air Force jet fighters to the Gulf would give the Pentagon leeway to move the Carl Vinson into the Arabian Sea, closer to Afghanistan, while maintaining enough aircraft to continue enforcing the "no fly" zone over southern Iraq. Airplanes aboard the Vinson have been making those patrols.

The United States is welcoming offers of military support from allies and friendly nations. Britain already has substantial forces in the Gulf area as part of a long–planned joint exercise with Oman. These include an aircraft carrier, four frigates, two destroyers, other ships and group troops. The Ministry of Defense says it is Britain's largest naval deployment since the 1982 Falklands War.

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