(photo credit: AP [file])
The US Air Force is working with military leaders from Persian Gulf states to train and prepare Arab air forces for a possible war with Iran, The Daily Telegraph in London reported Tuesday.
Participants in an air warfare conference in Washington last week were told how American air chiefs have helped to coordinate intelligence-sharing with Gulf nations and organized combined exercises designed to make fighting together easier.
Gen. Michael Mosley, USAF chief of staff, used the conference to seek closer links with allies whose support America might need if US President George W. Bush decides to bomb Iran, the paper reported.
Pentagon officials have helped set up an air warfare center in the United Arab Emirates, where Gulf nations are training their fighter pilots and America has large-scale bases. The center is modeled on the USAF warfare center 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 with American jets, the Telegraph reported.
While it is unlikely that America's Gulf allies would join any US air strike against suspected nuclear targets in Iran, their cooperation might be required to allow the passage of warplanes though their airspace.
American defense officials were also reportedly keen that Iran's Arab neighbors prepare to deal with any Iranian attempt to target them in response.
The White House said Monday that President Bush wants a peaceful end to "the Iranian problem."
"The president has said that he believes there is a diplomatic solution that we can use to solve the Iranian problem. And that's why we're working with our allies to get there," said Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Perino declined to comment on an article in The New Yorker magazine about alleged US preparations for war, except to express frustration with its unnamed sources and with other US media outlets for reporting what the piece said.
"We don't discuss such things. What we have said and what we are working toward is a diplomatic solution in Iran," she was quoted by Agence France Presse as saying.
The magazine reported that the White House had asked the Pentagon earlier this year to redraw long-standing contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran amid concerns over its nuclear program and allegations of its aiding fighters who target US troops in Iraq.