Military deployment in Gulf doubled with 50,000 extra troops

After its rejection of Iraq's weapons declaration, the Bush administration has stepped up preparations for war by authorising the dispatch of a further 50,000 troops to the Gulf region, doubling the US military presence there.

The deployment, Pentagon officials confirmed yesterday, will start early in the new year, and be complete by mid-January. The announcement came amid a series of planning meetings between President George Bush, the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Tommy Franks, the head of US Central Command, who would be in charge of an invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

Under the plans, thousands of reservists will be mobilised, and additional tanks, warplanes and other equipment will be sent to join the substantial material pre-positioned around Iraq. Two more aircraft carrier battle groups are also en route to the Gulf, to join the two already there.

After Mr Bush's decision that the weapons inventory provided on 7 December by Baghdad fell well short of the demands of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 for a complete accounting of Iraq's suspected chemical, biological and nuclear programmes, the real debate here has been whether formally to cite the omissions as an automatic trigger for a decision to go to war, or whether to wait a few more weeks.

The latter view has apparently prevailed, with top administration officials concluding that Washington needs more time to win over potential allies, and to put together a genuinely broad coalition to oust President Saddam. This in turn reassures critics at home who say the US has not yet made the case for going to war, and that if it does so, it must be under a clear UN mandate.

Despite the rejection of the 12,000-word declaration, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said Mr Bush would continue a "deliberative" approach to the crisis, encouraging the inspectors to use "every tool available" under the resolution to ferret out the truth about Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction.

US officials have been careful to note that the phrase "material breach" – invoked again yesterday by John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN – will not immediately set in motion the "serious consequences", a code-term for war, laid down in the resolution unanimously approved by the Security Council on 8 November. "We'll work with our partners on Council to determine the way forward," Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, said on Wednesday.

But for all the administration's keenness to go through the motions at the UN, there is a mood of resigned inevitability in Washington. A timetable is now clear for the countdown to military action, most likely in the first fortnight of February, long seen by the Pentagon as the best window for an attack.

The troop build-up, and intense US diplomatic efforts to build international support, will continue through January. Barring some blatant earlier provocation by Iraq, the next pivotal moment will come on 27 January when Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, is due to present the Security Council with his first full report on the inspections.

By then, too, the Bush administration calculates it will have again trapped President Saddam – this time on the issue of interviews with Iraqi weapons scientists, as stipulated by resolution 1441. If the Iraqi leader Saddam resists making his experts available, as Washington assumes he will, he will be in material breach for a second time. US officials claim this will harden international support for a US-led attack, clearing the decks for military action to start in early or mid-February, when weather conditions would suit a desert campaign.

Though far smaller than the 500,000 force assembled by President Bush Snr to drive Iraq from Kuwait in 1991, the 100,000-strong force – which could be easily reinforced – is in line with estimates of what will be needed for the swift, fierce campaign planned by the Pentagon. The US also wants to tighten the UN sanctions screw on Iraq, by restricting imports of antibiotics and other items, such as large tyres, which have a potential military use. But these plans, which will cause additional hardship for Iraqi civilians, could encounter strong resistance on the Security Council.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes