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CAPTION ONLY: U.S. GEARS UP IN RESPONSE TO IRAQI ACTION

Gloved hands stick out from an F-18 jet fighter undergoing maintenance aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The carrier is part of a 14-ship battle group the United States sent to the Mediterranean after high-level Iraqi defections to Jordan. The United States is building up its forces in and around the Persian Gulf because of unusual military activity by Iraq, primarily directed toward Kuwait, defense officials said Thursday. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were concerned but not alarmed by a pattern of unusual training that began about five weeks ago.