Dec 12 2001 – The Pentagon has moved the headquarters of its 3rd Army from America to Kuwait, apparently in preparation for expanding the war on terrorism to Somalia and elsewhere.
Military analysts said the transfer of several hundred headquarters staff from Fort MacPherson, Georgia, to an undisclosed location in Kuwait was “significant”.
They said it would give Gen Tommy Franks, commander-in-chief of the coalition forces, a base from which to expand his campaign.
Gen Franks said last week that he was considering sending more troops to Afghanistan. When asked which other areas his planners had been looking into, he mentioned Somalia, Sudan and Iraq.
The 3rd Army provides the ground forces for US Central Command under Gen Franks and already maintains permanent units in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The move was confirmed by a spokesman for Central Command yesterday, who said: “They will have command and control of the ground forces in Afghanistan. They will also support the ground forces for the ongoing war against terrorism.”
There is an armoured brigade’s worth of equipment already in Kuwait, principally ready to repel another invasion attempt by Saddam Hussein.
Another brigade’s worth of tanks and artillery is ready in Qatar and two brigades’ materiel is on Diego Garcia, a British Indian Ocean base about five days sailing time from the head of the Gulf.
Col Dan Smith, of the Centre for Defence Information, a Washington think-tank, said: “This is very significant, particularly in respect to the enlargement of the war against terrorism.
“It is a clear sign that the [Bush] administration is thinking ahead to what it will do when it has finished in Afghanistan.”
The 3rd Army has experience of quick deployments to the region, having provided the command structure for troops in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
The CIA and military intelligence agents have been scrutinising terrorist recruitment and training facilities in the Aceh region of northern Indonesia, in bin Laden’s father’s community of Hadhramaut in Yemen, and an alleged training and storage facility in Ras Komboni in southern Somalia, it was reported at the weekend.
The Los Angeles Times quoted a senior government official as saying: “The main front after Afghanistan will be going after al-Qa’eda cells hither and yon.”