Iraq: February 11, 2003


The Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] states has agreed to a Kuwaiti request to foreward deploy "Peninsula Shield" forces on Kuwaiti territory, in preparation for a possible war against Iraq. The GCC, a strategic and political alliance of the United States' key allies in the oil-rich region, comprises major oil producers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

At least 6,000 troops are based at the northern Saudi base of Hafir al-Batin, near the Iraqi border, while the rest are on alert in their home countries as reserve units. The force has 45 aircraft at its disposal. The GCC agreed in 2001 to increase the number of troops in the Saudi-based joint force from 5,000 to 20,000.

Ground and air units of the six member states have carried out small-scale combined training exercises since the early 1990's. Military assistance, provided mainly by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait under GCC auspices, has enabled Bahrain to modernize its stock of combat aircraft and Oman to improve its air and sea defenses around the Strait of Hormuz. - Adam Geibel


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