More US Troops in Jordan for Iraq Offensive
Notwithstanding official denials, the 4,000 US troops who began landing in Aqaba Monday, August 12, will be transferred to the northeast Jordanian desert region bordering on Iraq. Officially, they have come for a three-week joint exercise with the Jordanian army. But debkafile‘s military sources report that the American increment supplements the US force already stationed in Jordan, raising the total to close to 8,000 US troops.
King Abdullah and Jordanian ministers have been consistent in denying the presence of American troops on their soil. They insist that Jordanian bases will not serve as jumping off points for an assault against Iraq. These denials were repeated by the Jordanian king, when he called on Saudi crown prince Abdullah in Jedda Monday, August 12.
From DEBKA-Net-Weekly Issue 71, August 2:
On this central front, the American war plan calls for a US force, built around a backbone of armored and special forces, to push into western Iraq and seize the strategic group of air bases – H-3 northwest, H-3 northeast, H-3 main base and the H-3 landing strip, which consists of a stretch of highway running from western Iraq across the border into central Jordan. US and Jordanian forces will also capture H-2, northeast of the Iraqi city of Ar Rutbah.
As in the south, here too small units of US special forces have gone into action – this time with Jordanian special forces – for strikes at Iraqi command centers, transportation routes and military and supply convoys, thereby preparing the ground in this sector too for the main thrust.
On this front, the United States will have the use of units stationed for some months in Jordan. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, they are stationed in two bases in close proximity to one another on the kingdom’s eastern border with Iraq and at the Jordanian air base of Ruwayshid, while a smaller contingent is located further north at the air base in Wadi al-Murbah. Formerly an airstrip serving light planes and helicopters tracking smugglers and minor Iraqi incursions, US army engineers have converted this base into a major air installation.