A look at the Tbilisi suburb of Vaziani in the Republic of Georgia provides perhaps the best overview of US military preparations for the coming war against Iraq.
A newly renovated section of the Georgian capital’s international airport has just become home to US, Turkish and Israeli bombers and warplanes flown in from bases in southern Turkey, and hundreds of Russian civilian laborers, housed in separate quarters at the airport. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources learn that these “laborers” are in fact Russian commandos who will join the US-led assault force assigned to the Iraqi campaign.
Vaziani is located about 10 miles (15 km) east of downtown Tbilisi, a 30-minute metro ride costing less than 30 cents. Its population of about 15,000 consists largely of low-income white-collar workers and laborers. A four-room apartment in its bleak Stalinist houses sells for about $4,000. But Vaziani has its good points: the former Communist administration built a 15-mile (25 km) -long, five-mile (eight km)-wide artificial lake, utilizing springs and creeks that run through the suburb. Vehicular and pedestrian bridges span the lake.
The suburb recently received an unusual stream of newcomers – 1,000 laborers, foremen and engineers from Turkey and Israel. Construction companies specializing in building airports, from both countries, opened shops for their workers in Vaziani and set up medical facilities. The first contingent arrived in the second half of December. They were given a scant three months to transform a large section of Georgia’s international airport into an up-to-date air base capable of handling bombers, warplanes, helicopters and their munitions – including bombs and missiles – and catering to their crews.
A joint team of US, Turkish and Israeli officers stationed in southern Turkey, most in the Incirlik air base, drew up the advance work plan (as reported previously in DEBKA-Net-Weekly Issue 52 on March 8).
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that the target date was met. The greater part of the modernization project is finished, making it possible to start moving in aircraft and Russian special forces earlier this month.
To the south and west of the targeted war zone, Britain has bolstered its forces in Oman, Kuwait and Cyprus, while substantial German special forces units are poised for action in bases in Kenya, Djibouti and Kuwait. German naval units, spy plane crews and decontamination experts in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare have been placed in forward positions. This is Germany’s biggest military deployment since World War Two.