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U.S, Navy Ships Heavy-Armour To Gulf Via Shipping Companies

Reuters 11:03am Wed Sep 4 '02

Much high-tech and heavy armour has been placed near Iraq. Personnel carriers have been seen being repainted in desert camouflage patterns. Now our government
must again attempt to justify the attack that has been planned. We are acting alone
save for Israel to wage war against a country that might get nulear weapons and might use them. No attack by them is immenent to our best knowledge. Is this the actions of a "rogue state"?
By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy has
booked a large ship to carry tanks and
heavy armor to the Gulf this month as the
Pentagon presses home a case for ousting
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, shipping
sources said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Military Sealift Command chartered
a U.S. flagged general cargo ship to sail from
the southeast U.S. coast to an unspecified
Middle Eastern port in the Gulf for discharge
in late September, they said.

This is the third shipment of arms and
military hardware in a month using commercial shipping, which military analysts say shows
the U.S. Navy has probably exhausted the capacity of its own fleet and resorted to the
open market.

The formal tender document, seen by Reuters, shows the ship will carry 67 separate
pieces of "track general cargo, containerized cargo and rolling stock" measuring 56,000
square feet, slightly larger than a soccer pitch.

Military experts say the dimensions and weight of the pieces specified in the document
match almost exactly those of the standard U.S. Abrams battle tank.

"This ship can easily carry tanks," said a shipping industry source familiar with the U.S.
military tendering process.

Military analysts say that the movement of heavy armor from the U.S. southeast coast to
the Gulf mirrors similar movements ahead of the 1991 Gulf War and is a key signal that the
superpower is building up fire power in the region ahead of a possible military strike.

In mid-August Reuters reported that the Navy booked a large ship to carry helicopters,
ammunition and assorted "rolling stock" to the Red Sea.

The story was initially denied by the U.S. Navy, but a Military Sealift Command
spokeswoman later retracted the denial when confronted with documentary evidence.

The Pentagon has said the shipments of military hardware in August were to support
exercises in Jordan that have been planned for two years.

Shipping sources doubted it.

"Why jump into the commercial market in August when you knew the exercises were
planned -- it just doesn't make sense," one shipping source said.

President Bush was set to meet congressional leaders on Wednesday to discuss the case
for overthrowing Saddam.



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