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Perry Says All's Quiet Over Iraq

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 25, 1996 – All's quiet over Iraq, but U.S. forces are keeping constant watch, according to Defense Secretary William J. Perry.

"I truly believe Iraq is backing off the threatening actions they were taking a week ago," Perry said, "but we will watch it very carefully -- every day and every hour."

Perry told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Scandanavia that all of the evidence of the past week is positive. "We continue to conduct Operation Southern Watch flights over southern Iraq. We've had no problems with that."

Coalition forces are now flying more sorties from Saudi bases to enforce the expanded southern no-fly zone, which now reaches to the Baghdad suburbs. The United States deployed F-117s and F-16s to Kuwait and Bahrain.

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise joined the carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf. DoD officials will decide in October whether to return the Vinson to its home port in Bremerton, Wash., as originally scheduled, Perry said.

About 3,500 U.S. troops from Fort Hood, Texas, are now exercising in the Kuwaiti desert along with 1,200 U.S. service members already there. Training is slated to last several months, Perry said.

When the training is over, U.S. officials would prefer to bring the Fort Hood troops home, he said, but it will depend on the situation in the region at the time.

DoD's plan was to rotate a battalion at a time to Kuwait for desert training, Perry said. The schedule was moved up after the Iraqi aggression and threats to U.S. aircraft in the south. "We have no plans at this time to send in any more forces," Perry said.

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