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HEIDELBERG, Germany — Some units of the Army’s top combat command in Europe are preparing for deployment to the Middle East.

According to several sources speaking to Stars and Stripes on the condition of anonymity, V Corps units on Friday began receiving “warning orders” for deployment to Kuwait. Formal deployment orders were expected to be forthcoming.

As of Friday evening, no deployment orders had come down.

Some 600 V Corps soldiers returned last week from exercises in Kuwait, but many of them soon will be on their way back to the desert. V Corps, based in Heidelberg, and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are expected to form the two main ground combat commands under U.S. Central Command’s Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Kuwait.

“The headquarters are now based there,” said one senior military official at the Pentagon. “They just got a short respite for the holidays.”

More than 100 V Corps soldiers remained behind in Kuwait after completing the Internal Look exercise last week. The exercise tested a command’s ability to control forward deployed troops.

The soldiers who remained were to maintain the corps’ command post in a hot status.

Warning orders arrive to units before deployment orders and are used as a way to alert servicemembers of a possible deployment. Sometimes units will be issued a warning order but never deploy. Deployment orders mean the unit is heading out.

Officials declined to provide specifics, but indicated any deployment would not be the massive mobilization of combat forces in Europe that is expected should the White House order an invasion of Iraq.

“We’re not there yet,” said one military official familiar with the pending deployment orders, explaining that while several V Corps commands are being instructed to prepare for movement, that most would remain in Germany — for now.

In fact, the deployment orders are not expected to involve either of V Corps’ two divisions, but instead center on positioning key elements of the corps’ separate brigades.

Although at press time it was unclear which of those units — or parts of those units — would get the nod, V Corps’ separate brigades include attack and support helicopter units, military intelligence, medical, military police, long-range artillery and logistics commands.

“This is part of the continual flow of forces into the region,” said the Pentagon source. “We’re keeping the pressure on to support the diplomatic effort and to be ready should we go to war.”

Lt. Gen. William Wallace’s V Corps oversee the majority of some 62,000 troops in Europe, including the 1st Infantry and 1st Armored divisions. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, some 75,000 soldiers from Europe helped liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s forces.

Twelve years later, Iraq is under pressure to comply with a disarmament program it agreed to as part of the cease-fire agreement ending the war. Iraqi officials announced Friday they would provide a list of scientists involved in the country’s nuclear, biological and chemical warfare programs.

— Stars and Stripes reporter Rick Scavetta and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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