This article has lots of other indicators of preparations for war. Among those indicators is bridging equipment that is en route for crossing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. But the point at which the carriers will reach a peak number seems like a pretty good indicator to watch:
The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier and its naval battle group is in the Gulf, and the USS Washington is in the Mediterranean. The USS Constellation battle group, with 75 aircraft and 8,000 sailors, left San Diego earlier this month, four months ahead of schedule, bound for the North Arabian sea.
Another aircraft carrier, the USS Truman, completed its final preparatory exercises last week, and is taking on provisions at its base in Virginia.
On the other side of the country, the USS Vinson aircraft carrier and is being prepared for departure from its base in Washington state some time in December.
In San Diego the USS Nimitz is also due for deployment, and the carrier based in Japan, the USS Kitty Hawk, has left harbour for exercises at an undisclosed location.
Update: Bradley Graham writing in the Washington Post reports there is not yet a decision to reach a readiness peak at a particilar point in time:
Additionally, the Pentagon is expected to scratch plans to extend the tours of two aircraft carriers -- the Abraham Lincoln and the George Washington -- that have been within striking distance of Iraq, allowing them to sail back to the United States after the arrival soon of replacement carriers -- the Constellation and the Harry Truman. In Kuwait, a fresh brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division already has started rolling in to relieve a brigade that has been training there for nearly six months. And the Air Force also is counting on rotating some of its warplanes in and out of the region.
The United States has moved Marine Corps attack jets to Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday, replacing carrier-based warplanes in the Arabian Sea that have moved closer to Iraq.
While a delay caused by inspections creates weather problems it allows more equipment to be put into place:
Goure added that a long inspections process would allow US officials to finish putting its equipment and personnel in place. Equally important is that a strong UN resolution gives greater multilateral support for any potential US military effort if Baghdad fails to comply.
This article has a long list of equipment already moved or being moved into the theatre.
-- U.S. heavy B-2 bombers, which fired opening salvos in last two U.S. wars, are to be moved to the British-held Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and Fairford, England, the first time they will be based overseas rather than at Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri. Timing of the move has not been announced. The radar-evading aircraft can carry 40,000 pounds (18,180 kg) of bombs, including 5,000-pound (2,273 kg) "bunker buster" bombs that can burrow up to 30 feet (nine metres) into rock or reinforced concrete.
The New York Times (free registration required) has a lengthy report on Iraq war planning.
The plan, approved in recent weeks by Mr. Bush well before the Security Council's unanimous vote on Friday to disarm Iraq, calls for massing 200,000 to 250,000 troops for attack by air, land and sea. The offensive would probably begin with a "rolling start" of substantially fewer forces, Pentagon and military officials say.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2002 November 09 12:06 PM Military War, Rumours Of War|