U.S. troop level in Kuwait continues to drop

Monday, March 22, 2004

WASHINGTON The U.S. military continues to reduce the number of troops in Kuwait.

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid reported more than 26,000 troops in Kuwait. Abizaid said the troops support operations in neighboring Iraq.

The figure cited by Abizaid during a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing marked a nearly 25 percent reduction of U.S. troops in Kuwait since July 2003. At the time, the United States reported 34,000 troops in the sheikdom, Middle East Newsline reported.

Kuwait has hosted the U.S. Army's Combined Forces Land Component Command Forward Headquarters. The sheikdom has also hosted U.S. forces who were preparing for deployment throughout the Persian Gulf region.

U.S. officials said Kuwait and other Gulf Cooperation Council states have provided overflight rights, base and port access and staging rights. They said the exception has been Saudi Arabia, which achieved the departure of U.S. aircraft and troops in September 2003.

In the March 3 hearing, Abizaid also reviewed threats to U.S. troops around the Middle East. He said Sudan remains a safe haven for Islamic insurgents. The general added that the United States plans to provide security aid to Sudan and Yemen.

"Sudan has suffered from continuous civil war for decades and remains a training and staging location for transnational terrorist organizations," Abizaid said.

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