Union Tribune

October 30, 2002 

Pendleton team faces longer stay in Gulf
Marines there now for training exercise

By OTTO KREISHER 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON The commander of U.S. forces in the Persian
Gulf region left open the possibility yesterday that Marine
planners from Camp Pendleton could remain in the area after
completion of an exercise there in December.

Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, said the
exercise dubbed Internal Look would last a week to 10 days
in early December. But, he added, planners could be there for a
month to six weeks.

The decision on whether the headquarters personnel remain in
the Persian Gulf could be shaped by an upcoming U.N. vote on
returning weapons inspectors to Iraq or a decision by President
Bush to launch military action against Iraq.

Keeping the several hundred planners from the 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force in the region after the exercise would
improve the preparations for a war with Iraq. The expeditionary
force is the combat command unit for the Marines from Camp
Pendleton and from Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

Franks also confirmed that 700 to 800 Marines from Camp
Lejeune, N.C., are being sent to Djibouti, a French protectorate
at the juncture of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The general said the East Coast Marines were being sent to help
root out terrorists in the Horn of Africa, which incl udes Aden,
Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Marines would be only a few days sailing time from Iraq.
Franks would not discuss any preparation for a conflict with
Iraq.

In response to questions, he said the Internal Look exercise was
intended to test a recently developed "deployable command and
control capability," which includes shipping containers holding
sophisticated communications equipment.

"It takes about 600 to 1,000 people to operate" the portable
headquarters, Franks said, and the exercise would test his ability
to use it to control the air, ground and naval forces in his
command.

The headquarters personnel would be located in "a number of
countries over the region," he said. That is expected to include
the Navy headquarters in Bahrain, an Air Force command
center in Saudi Arabia and a new command post in Qatar.