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U.S. Redeploying Military Forces

WASHINGTON (AFP) – U.S. Defense Department officials say the United States is redeploying military forces worldwide in support of a planned offensive against terrorism.

Media reports say the Pentagon is sending about 100 warplanes to the Persian Gulf region that include ground attack fighters, long-range bombers, high-flying ground surveillance planes and fuel tanker planes for mid-air refueling duty.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says military movements are underway and more are planned. He also says few details will be officially released to prevent people from “trying to figure out what we’re about to do next.”

But Pentagon officials do say the terrorist network controlled by Osama bin Laden operates in scores of countries – and they predict a long series of actions in a sustained campaign against terrorism.

The London Times reports Thursday that the United States and Britain are planning a 10-year war on terrorism, dubbed “Operation Noble Eagle.” The paper says the plan involves international diplomatic, economic, and political actions aimed at ending worldwide terrorist networks.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Wednesday his country will contribute whatever is possible, including ground troops to any U.S. military assault against terrorism.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy battle group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has set sail from the eastern United States. The Roosevelt’s final destination is unknown. It was to have been sent on a routine six-month deployment to the Mediterranean.

The U.S. carrier group, with 15,000 sailors and marines, includes about 13 warships, more than 80 aircraft and a 2,000-member Marine amphibious landing force. It also includes guided missile cruisers, destroyers and at least one submarine.

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