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The World | SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ

39,000 More Reservists Called to Active Duty

They are among 150,000 part-time troops summoned in a buildup for a possible Iraq war.

February 13, 2003|John Hendren | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon activated 39,000 more reservists Wednesday, intensifying a military buildup toward possible war with Iraq that now includes about 150,000 Reserve and National Guard forces deployed in the United States and abroad.

Some of the part-time soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines called to full-time duty will join nearly 130,000 military personnel already in the Persian Gulf, but it remained unclear how many.

The call-ups to date account for about 12% of the nation's 1.2 million guard and reserve members. They consist of 113,751 Army, 6,276 Navy, 15,704 Air Force, 12,539 Marine and 1,982 Coast Guard Reserve and National Guard forces.

The size of the latest call-up, which includes about 5,000 Californians, surprised some military analysts.

"It is a substantially larger reserve component call-up than I had anticipated," said John Pike, a military analyst for GlobalSecurity.org.

"What remains unclear is how much of that call-up is going to be for homeland security purposes, how much is to support the initial attack on Iraq and how much is for potential deployment to Iraq for postwar stability and support operations."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declined to say where the reserve and guard forces would be posted. A sizable number will probably remain in the United States, where stepped-up alerts have been ordered in anticipation of possible terrorist attacks.

Apart from the reserves, Rumsfeld already has ordered the deployment of two 7,000-member Marine amphibious task forces and the Army's 3rd and 4th infantry divisions, mechanized units equipped with hundreds of M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

Those divisions have been moving their troops to bases in the gulf region on commercial aircraft. The military still has thousands more troops to ferry abroad.

With military deployments rapidly accelerating, the Pentagon is pressing commercial airliners into service to transport troops for only the second time in history.

The initial call-up of 47 passenger planes from the nation's major carriers enables the Pentagon to supplement its overtaxed air fleet to ferry tens of thousands of troops to the Middle East in the next several weeks.

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