Socialist Worker

New rules to call up 10,000

Issue No. 1825

THE BRITISH government this week plans to issue a rarely seen Queen's Order to enforce the mobilisation of up to 10,000 armed forces reservists for war on Iraq. The procedure has not been used since the Korean War in the 1950s, and gives the government massive extra powers to call up reservists.

The government and armed forces chiefs fear that without such powers they will not get enough people answering a call-up of reservists. 'This is a very drastic measure,' one army chief told the Daily Telegraph newspaper. 'It is what we would have done if the Russians invaded and for reasons of national survival. It opens up the number of people eligible and means all previous bets are off. There will be no arguments for not going on personal or business reasons, and if you refuse the police are likely to come knocking on your door.'

Reservists are people who have served in the armed forces who can be called up when needed. Normally reservists need only serve for six months in any two-year period. But a Queen's Order allows them to be called up indefinitely. In the 1991 Gulf War only 1,500 reservists were called up in Britain.

Troops and arms heading to Gulf

THE US has started trial bombing raids in Iraq. The New York Times reported from the US's Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf that 'US navy pilots are conducting mock strikes against airfields, towers and other military sites in Iraq, acquainting themselves with targets.'

This comes at the same time as the relentless build-up of US forces in the Middle East. Four huge aircraft carriers are heading for the Gulf, each accompanied by its own battle group of warships.

Also last week 2,200 US soldiers in the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit passed through the Suez Canal, joining two Apache helicopter squadrons and the US army's V Corps which have already moved to Kuwait. Some 50,000 US troops in all are now converging on the Gulf, with tens of thousands more preparing to join them.

At the centre of US operations is the Al Udeid air base in Qatar. The base is already home to 3,000 US personnel. Last week General Tommy Franks announced he was moving his headquarters there. Franks is head of the US military's central command, and the man George Bush has pencilled in as dictator of Iraq in the aftermath of war.

SIXTEEN million people face famine in the Horn of Africa. The US response to this disaster is to set up a military base in the area to help in its 'war on terror'.

US develops a biological bomb

REPUTABLE scientists on both sides of the Atlantic last week warned that the US is developing a new generation of biological and chemical weapons. The scientists include Malcolm Dando, professor of international security at the University of Bradford, and Mark Wheelis, a lecturer in microbiology at the University of California.

They say the US, with the help of the British military, is researching biological cluster bombs and a new form of genetically modified anthrax. US officials deny the research breaches international treaties like the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, and say it is only for defensive purposes. But Mark Wheelis says, 'What is happening is at least so close to the borderline as to be destabilising.'

Trained to pump out propaganda

JOURNALISTS are being called up for special training to push US military propaganda in a war. The training will include a physical regime at a military boot camp, after the US military complained that the journalists in the Afghan war were flabby and unfit, and slowed troops down.

Those journalists who refuse to submit to the physical training and go along with the US military will be denied access to battlefields and military information. 'Prudent planning demands that we prepare for embedding media with military units,' was the official US warspeak to describe the operation which is designed to ensure that truth will certainly be the first casualty of a war.

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Article information

Sat 9 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1825
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