WASHINGTON -- U.S. Marines stormed ashore in Kuwait Tuesday in a demonstration of American ability to rapidly reinforce that nation against any renewed threat from Iraq.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joe Gradisher, said the amphibious landing took place as planned.
The joint exercise, in which Kuwaiti forces are also participating, comes just a little more than two years after Iraq invaded Kuwait, precipitating last year's Persian Gulf War. On the weekend anniversary of the invasion, Iraq reiterated its claim to Kuwait, describing that nation as its own 19th province.
The 1,900 marines and sailors taking part in the amphibious operation included a Navy amphibious squadron, headed by the amphibious assault ship Tarawa, and a Marine battalion landing team and helicopter squadron.
The amphibious exercise, which is code-named Eager Mace 92-3, is closely coordinated with another drill, called Native Fury 92, which will practice the offloading of heavy equipment such as tanks from cargo ships permanently stationed in the Indian Ocean. The shipboard equipment is kept there to enable U.S. forces to rapidly deploy to Persian Gulf trouble spots.
Taking part in the offloading will be 900 troops of a Marine service support group, a Navy beach group and a detachment of Marine aviation.
In addition to these two seaborne landing exercises, the Army is sending 2,400 of its own troops to Kuwait in a drill code-named Intrinsic Action. That exercise, which had not been scheduled until September, was accelerated as a result of Iraq's failure to cooperate fully with U.N. inspectors seeking to enforce Baghdad's agreement to dismantle its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.
The Army contingent, which will arrive in Kuwait over the next three weeks, will include tankers and armored infantry from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, and troops from the 5th Special Forces Group in Fort Campbell, Ky.
The tankers and infantry will not be taking any of their heavy equipment with them but rather will draw on fighting vehicles stored in Kuwait. The 'green berets' of the Special Forces are typically armed very lightly and specialize in the training of local forces. In most previous exercises in the gulf, they have worked with the Kuwaitis.
The United States signed a defense cooperation with Kuwait late last year and since then the two nations have conducted a series of joint exercises.