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U.S. Military Buildup in Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean - 2001-09-22


The United States is mobilizing its biggest military buildup since the 1991 Persian Gulf War -- as Washington prepares to retaliate for last week's terrorist attacks.

The Pentagon is moving warplanes and troops to unspecified locations in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean -- within striking distance of Afghanistan.

U-S officials have identified alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the September 11th attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Afghanistan has been providing him shelter.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other officials have said little about military plans. But a third aircraft carrier, long-range bombers and warships capable of launching cruise missiles have left U-S territory. The ships will join two other battle groups already deployed. All told, almost 400 planes will be available, from land bases and carriers. Elite special operations forces are also preparing for action.

Meanwhile, President Bush held talks Saturday with his advisors as he plans the U-S response. Mr. Bush chaired the videoconference from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

News reports say the President will soon sign an executive order naming specific terrorists and terrorist groups and freezing their financial assets in the United States.

In another development, the Washington Post says Saudi Arabia is resisting a U-S request to use a new command center at a Saudi airbase. The newspaper quotes unidentified U-S military sources as saying that any planned air campaign could be delayed if operations have to be moved from the kingdom to another country.

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