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Navy Shipping Armor to the Gulf

September 05, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Navy is chartering a commercial ship to send tanks and other cargo to the Persian Gulf in what officials said Wednesday is a routine rotation of equipment to protect Kuwait.

It is the third time in a month that the U.S. Military Sealift Command is known to have chartered a ship for the shipping of weaponry and other equipment to the region.

Command spokeswoman Marge Holtz said private ships are used dozens of times a year, but reports of the two shipments in August raised speculation--denied by the Pentagon--that the shipments were part of a military buildup in the region ahead of an invasion of Iraq.

Officials said the equipment in those shipments was for long-planned military exercises in the region.

As President Bush pressed his argument Wednesday for overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Pentagon again played down the idea that the shipment is related to preparation for an attack.

They said general cargo, 70 tracked vehicles such as tanks and an unannounced amount of rolling stock such as trucks were being sent for arrival this month as part of the normal rotation of equipment into and out of Kuwait.

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