by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Los Angeles, Calif.
February 10, 2003
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9, 2003 -- Barring an unforeseen, last-minute eruption of peace, the United States may be at war with Iraq within weeks.
As the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade sails toward the Gulf to join the I Marine Expeditionary Force already deployed there, the likelihood of the war "going hot" increases by the day. The 2d MEB can grow almost overnight from 3,000 to 20,000 men, and would likely be the steel-hard edge of any invasion.
Capable of supporting a city of 30,000-40,000 people without help from a host country or friendly forces, its deployment to the Persian Gulf is a dead-serious sign that war looms just ahead, and could begin as soon as early March.
In 1999, when news that the Clinton Administration had ordered 2d MEB to Colombia leaked out about two weeks ahead of the announcement, only the resulting outcry stopped the invasion, which was intended to bring an end to drug trafficking between the United States and Colombia that was then wreaking havoc on America's streets.
But it does not appear that anything will stop this second engagement between Saddam Hussein and the United States, who has accused Hussein of covering up his development of odious weapons of mass destruction intended for use against Iraq's many enemies.
Marines say the leading-edge unit is "Scaleable, flexible, and lethal across the spectrum of conflict." It is described as the "middleweight" crisis response force of the Marine Corps in the European and Southern Commnds (http://www.lejeune.usmc.mil/meb/WhatIs.asp).
News that the 2d MEB was being deployed reach The American Reporter about the time a news conference from Baghdad suggested that Iraq may be less resistant than it has been to permitting access to its weapons scientists, many of whom have been kept hidden by the Hussein regime, UN inspectors charge.
President Bush has said that such tactics by Iraq may lead directly to war.