WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Richard Cheney has headed to the Persian Gulf to lay out proposals for postwar security in the region, likely to include a much more visible role for the United States than before the war against Iraq. Mr. Cheney, due back Thursday after conferring with officials in six countries in just three days, made the trip carrying what one aide described as "a framework of what we think the right mix of things should be."
Postwar security preparations began while the war was in progress, as US officials suggested stockpiling enough tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other gear in Saudi Arabia to equip a division.
Defense officials also suggested they may ask gulf nations to permit a small headquarters unit of the Central Command to be located in Bahrain, and to conduct joint training and exercises with regional allies.
Saudi Arabia has indicated some reluctance to warehouse US war materiel.
Cheney and other top administration officials have said that they intend to expand the naval presence in the Gulf that the United States has had since the late 1940s.
Cheney's whirlwind trip includes consultations in Riyadh with Saudi officials at the huge royal conference center on the Red Sea, a Tuesday stop in Kuwait to talk with Kuwaiti officials and US personnel, and a possible visit with US troops.
A stop in Kuwait City also will allow Cheney to view the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields caused by retreating Iraqi soldiers as the allied grip tightened on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces.
Cheney also planned stops in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain, all of which contributed portions of their small military forces to the war effort.