US trains Gulf air forces for war with IranBy Tim Shipman in Washington
The American air force is working with military leaders from the Gulf to train and prepare Arab air forces for a possible war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
An air warfare conference in Washington last week was told how American air chiefs have helped to co-ordinate intelligence-sharing with Gulf Arab nations and organise combined exercises designed to make it easier to fight together.
Gen Michael Mosley, the US Air Force chief of staff, used the conference to seek closer links with allies whose support America might need if President George W Bush chooses to bomb Iran.
Pentagon air chiefs have helped set up an air warfare centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Gulf nations are training their fighter pilots and America has big bases. It is modeled on the US Air Force warfare centre at Nellis air force base in Nevada.
Jordan and the UAE have both taken part in combined exercises designed to make sure their air forces can fly, and fight, together and with American jets.
The conference was long-planned to discuss developments in air warfare technology, but the question of possible hostilities involving Iran was discussed.
Bruce Lemkin, the American air force deputy under-secretary for international affairs, said: "We need friends and partners with the capabilities to take care of their own security and stability in their regions and, through the relationship, the inter-operability and the will to join us in coalitions when appropriate…
"On its most basic level, it's about flying together, operating together and training together so, if we have to, we can fight together."
While it is unlikely that America's Gulf allies would join any US air strike against suspected nuclear targets in Iran, their co-operation might be required to allow passage of warplanes though their airspace. American defence officials are also keen that Iran's Arab neighbours prepare to deal with any Iranian attempt to target them in return.
Lt Gen Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein, who is special assistant to the chief of staff of the Jordanian armed forces, said "concern at Iran's attempt to establish itself as a regional superpower" had led to greater co-operation, "not just at the inter-service level but also at the political level".
He said the new air warfare centre had allowed them to "exchange information and exercise together".
But Air Chief Marshal Sir Glen Torpy, the head of the RAF, voiced the fear of many British officials that America is too devoted to military solutions. He said: "In an environment like this, we always focus on the part that the military can play in solving security and foreign policy problems, but the military will rarely, if ever, be the solution."
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