US Troops Making Final Preparations - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/19/03

US Troops Making Final Preparations

Right in the middle of all the military preparations, men and women from right here at home are getting ready for war. We're sending Marine and Navy aviators from the Low Country, Rangers from Hunter, and soldiers from Fort Stewart.

On the ground in the Middle East, we're seeing a lot of movement. Especially when it comes to units like Hinesville's Third Infantry Division. When WTOC was with them in Kuwait, they were working out of large camps just ten or 15 miles from the Iraqi border. With the buildup, most units started moving to smaller camps, then out into the raw desert, likely even closer to Iraq.

On the ground in the Kuwaiti desert, and on dozens of ships at sea, US troops are making final preparations for war. As Vice Admiral Timothy Keating put it, "Clock's ticking, diplomatic measures have failed."

Thousands of troops are already poised at the Iraqi border waiting for orders to invade. US Marines and British troops are expected to seize the Southern City of Basra, while the main invasion force advances on Baghdad in two prongs, Marines from the East and the Army from the South. In the North, Turkey is preparing to open its airspace to US planes. Special operation forces and paratroopers will attempt to secure Iraq's lucrative oil fields before Saddam Hussein can destroy them.

A fierce sandstorm once again battered this region today. Commanders say weather may slow coalition forces, but won't stop them when it's time to move. Commanders are hoping many Iraqi troops will surrender, but elite republican guard units surrounding Baghdad are expected fight to the end.

The Pentagon say there's evidence Saddam has given commanders authority to use chemical weapons, and may have moved those units south of the capital.

Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf, remains defiant, saying, "All the country, not only Baghdad, is completely prepared to foil any stupid aggression."

Reported by: Mike Manhatton, mmanhatton@wtoc.com

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