Thousands of US troops and dozens of warships will head to Persian Gulf in the coming weeks as the Pentagon puts forces in place to make war on Iraq, defense officials say. \nSince Christmas, the Pentagon has been alerting units around the US and overseas to prepare for deployment. The Navy has been ordered to prepare two aircraft carrier battle groups and two amphibious assault groups -- which carry thousands of Marines -- to be ready to head to the region sometime in January, officials said Friday. \nAir Force combat aircraft wings and Army units also are receiving orders to deploy, officials said. Military personnel will go to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, among other locations, reinforcing the 50,000 US military personnel already in the region. \nThe fresh troops are intended to coerce Iraqi President Saddam Hussein into disclosing and abandoning his efforts to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, military officials said. No decision to go to war has been made. \n``We don't comment on specific unit deployments. However, forces will be flowing to the region to be in place should the president decide to use them,'' said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman at US Central Command, which would oversee operations in Iraq. \nThe Bush administration waited until after Christmas to issue the orders. Officials said tens of thousands of military personnel will receive orders to go to the region, but a precise figure was unavailable. \nSome of the units being sent to the region are combat-ready, including infantry outfits, warships and strike aircraft, officials said. Many more are logistics, engineering and support teams, which will prepare for the arrival of even larger combat units in the months ahead, officials said. They will add to the 50,000 US military personnel already in the region. \nThe Pentagon's orders require the Navy to have its carrier and amphibious assault groups ready to sail to the seas around Iraq within 96 hours after a certain date in January, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. They did not specify that date. \nThe Navy has determined that one the carriers will be the USS George Washington. The ship just arrived home to Norfolk, Virginia, from the Persian Gulf region and has remained ready to return. The Navy has not decided on the second carrier, but officials said it will either be the Everett, Washington-based USS Abraham Lincoln, now in port at Perth, Australia, having just left the Persian Gulf region, or the USS Kitty Hawk, currently in port in Japan. \nAn aircraft carrier battle group includes six to eight surface escorts, including cruisers, destroyers, frigates and other vessels, dozens of strike and support aircraft and about 7,500 sailors. An amphibious ready group has about 2,200 Marines.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters