Pentagon says it has neither sought nor gotten allied '91 gulf aid

December 12, 1990|By Richard H. P. Sia | Richard H. P. Sia,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon, facing spiraling costs in the Persian Gulf that could exceed $30 billion in fiscal 1991, disclosed yesterday that it has neither sought nor received any commitments from U.S. allies to defray its expenses after Dec. 31.

It also reported that six countries have delivered on pledges of assistance, donating $4.57 billion in cash and material. The largest gifts have come from the exiled leadership of Kuwait, which has fulfilled its offer made in September to make cash donations totaling $2.5 billion, Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said.

Saudi Arabia continues to provide "open-ended" contributions of food,

fuel, water, facilities and local transportation -- support worth $987 million as of Oct. 31, he said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces in southern Iraq and occupied Kuwait have expanded to more than 500,000 troops, compared with 480,000 last Thursday, although intelligence sources reported no additional deployments of tanks, armored fighting vehicles or artillery pieces and no significant change in Iraq's ability to wage war, Mr. Williams said.

He called the Iraqi reinforcements "a rounding-out of existing brigades and divisions" in the region, with more than half of all Iraqi forces actually occupying Kuwait.

By comparison, U.S. forces in the gulf now number about 260,000, while Britain, France and 24 other allied nations combined now have more than 220,000 military personnel in place, he said. Late next month, U.S. troop strength is expected to exceed 400,000.

When asked whether the United States had asked Arab nations and allies for additional financial commitments for the next calendar year, Mr. Williams said, "We have not, but we probably will -- and I don't know when."

Although Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said after a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers in Belgium last Friday that he had made "a general statement that we would be happy to have additional support," Mr. Williams said yesterday that no actual requests for help were made and that no new promises of support were received.

The disclosures came as administration officials continued to acknowledge privately that the U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf could double the current Pentagon cost estimate, to more than $30 billion in the 1991 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. That amount would skyrocket if a war started, officials said.

Even as President Bush has struggled to assemble a national consensus for his decision to build up offensive U.S. strength in the gulf, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have intensified their attacks over the level of foreign financial support he has obtained.

"The contributions, in their extremely limited quantities as they've been received, are outrageous in the negative," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has demanded more from wealthy allies. "It is just as we feared -- they have not backed up the pledges and commitments with actual donations and aid."

Mr. Williams said the contributions received so far included $250 million in cash and material support worth $30 million from the United Arab Emirates; $272 million in cash and $65 million in material support from Germany; $4 million in material support from South Korea; and the Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian donations.

Japan, which has promised $2 billion in money and other support, has so far sent $376 million in cash and materials worth $50 million, Mr. Williams said.

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