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North Carolina Troops Could See Action in the Gulf

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RALEIGH — North Carolina's military bases are keeping a close eye on the growing tension with Iraq.

In the Triangle, in Washington, and internationally, almost everyone agrees, the window on a diplomatic solution is rapidly closing. The military minds we tapped today cover some very experienced ground. The Secretary of the Navy and WRAL's own military expert.

Two aircraft-carrier battle groups, supported by 14,000 sailors and marines are battle ready in the Persian Gulf. They're all under the command of Secretary of the Navy John Dalton.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile. "We are certainly prepared to do whatever the president might ask us to do."

Dalton came to Raleigh to address a Boy Scout Council meeting. He says US forces are committed to far more than a scouting mission.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile. "The best ambassador is a warship. Clearly, our ships are showing our resolve, and our forward presence has indeed brought stability to other places in the world."

Since the Gulf War ended, Saddam Hussein has played a continual cat-and-mouse game with United Nations and the United States.

WRAL's military expert, retired Lt. General Robert Springer, says he expects the United States to respond with force sooner rather than later -- possibly by mid-February. The general says that response will come with advanced technology. There may also be more clearly defined targets.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile. "You go after any chemical and biological weapons, production facilities that they might have -- you might go after the Republican Guards, themselves, because they are a constant source of support for Saddam Hussein."

As far as North Carolina military bases are concerned, General Springer reminded us that the A-10's from Pope Air Force Base are in the Gulf now. The F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour-Johnson have a proven track record at war and over the no fly zone. It's highly unlikely at this point that any ground forces from Fort Bragg would be involved.