The President has approved the recommendations of the Secretary of Defense to deploy additional forces to the Gulf region. The forces approved for the deployment are among those that were placed on alert for just such a contingency following drawdown of U.S. forces from the Gulf region last spring. The deployments will start within the next several days.
The additional forces ordered to deploy include an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) of 12 F-16CJs, 12 F-15C/Ds, 12 F-16s and six B-1s. Besides the AEF, four additional F-16CJs, 12 F-117s, 12 B-52s, two EA-6Bs and 12 Marine Corps F/A-18s have been ordered to the Gulf for a total of 84 combat aircraft. Some 45 support aircraft, including 27 fixed-wing and 18 rotary- wing aircraft will also be deploying. Additional Patriot units and personnel, a light infantry battalion and an additional 3,000 Army troops will deploy to the Gulf region as well.
Because these units have been in an alert status for the past several months, actual departures from home stations could begin as early as this weekend, with arrivals in the Arabian Gulf as early as the middle of next week. Deployment of the entire package of additional forces is expected to take no more than about two weeks.
These actions are being taken as a prudent measure to enhance the capabilities of the U.S. forces already on duty in the region and to provide additional military options should the use of force become necessary. As the President said on Nov. 11, 1998, we would prefer a peaceful solution, one where Saddam Hussein honors his commitments and the requirements of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and allows UNSCOM to do its important work. If this does not happen, we may have to pursue other options.