EMDEN, Germany – British troops on Saturday loaded tanks, artillery and other heavy armored equipment for shipment to the Gulf region as part of its preparations for a possible war with Iraq.
British forces are moving 120 Challenger tanks, 150 armored personnel carriers and up to half of the 24,000 soldiers stationed in Germany in an operation that began last month and will be completed in about two weeks, military officials said.
Many of the vehicles were painted for possible desert warfare against the forces of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"Saddam does not worry me," said Maj. Allen Powell, one of those deploying.
Powell, who last saw combat in the Falklands War, said he still hoped for a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis but doubted that war could be avoided.
Britain said it is sending 35,000 troops -- including a quarter of its army and its biggest naval task force in 20 years -- to the region. London also said it will increase its Royal Air Force presence in the Gulf to about 100 airplanes and 27 helicopters -- supported by about 7,000 troops -- during the next few weeks.