Gearing Up For War

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk share a laugh before talks at the Prime Minister's chancellory in Warsaw, Poland, Oct 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
AP Photo/Alik Keplicz
In Kuwait Tuesday the government said it will complete the evacuation of all civilians from the northern half of the country by the end of this week.

That will give the U.S. invasion army now deployed near the Iraq border a free hand to complete preparations and training for the final showdown with Saddam Hussein.

The training is like any other military training you'd see in the States, but lately there's been a twist, reports CBS News Anchor Dan Rather.

Now, troops are practicing firing their weapons, suited up for a battlefield filled with poison gases.

"It slows down the process with all the equipment you have on, but I think the actual result will be more effective," said Army Sgt. Jonathan McCray.

The deployment of soldiers is kicking into high gear. The total number now surpasses 75,000 in Kuwait. Some of them are British troops meeting their counterparts for the first time.

But the vast majority come from America, massing near the Iraqi border, with others scattered at bases throughout the country. They're putting the final touches on a huge infrastructure designed to keep a fighting force on the move; streamlining the delivery of the tools of war, so what used to take months, now takes just weeks:

"Moving fuel's not the most glamorous job you can have in the military; I don't think I've ever seen a movie about people moving fuel," Army Lt. Eric Isler told Rather. "But you have to remember, nobody can fight unless we're there putting gasoline in the tank."

In the meantime the name of the game is hurry up and wait. In between the meals-ready-to-eat, or MREs, soldiers borrow a reporter's satellite phone for a quick call home, or go back to the recreation tent to play some board games as a distraction from the war games. But mainly, there is wondering -- and growing impatience.

"It's a little aggravating sometimes not knowing what's going on," said Sgt. Louis Villermin.

Added Pfc. Alysamuel Serrano, "We just wait for the day we're gonna wake up and they send us over there."