The US Defense Department has ordered additional 28,000 troops to the Gulf region as part of a continued military buildup for a possible war with Iraq, military officials said on Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed deployment orders over the weekend to send the 5,200 soldiers of the US Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Carson in Colorado, and several smaller units to the region around Iraq, officials said.
The troops will join the 150,000 US forces already in the region. Tens of thousands of more troops are heading toward the region in the coming weeks.
The 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has more than 300 tanks and armored vehicles, as well as helicopters like the AH-64 Apache,played an important role in the 1991 Gulf War. The regiment drove more than 185 miles (300 km) into southern Iraq in 100 hours during the brief ground phase of the Gulf War, officials said.
Other units receiving deployment orders include an artillery brigade, a combat support hospital, a chemical weapons defense company and a military policy unit, according to Pentagon officials.
US President George W. Bush has vowed to disarm Iraq by force if Baghdad fails to comply with UN demands that it give up any banned weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies possessing such weapons.
Thousands of US troops began flying to the Gulf region last week on commercial airliners mobilized by the Pentagon to meet growing airlift needs for a possible war.