Around the nation and the world, soldiers and ordinary citizens prepared for war yesterday.

In Saudi Arabia, where vast armies are poised for battle in the desert, air raid sirens were tested, gas masks sold briskly and supermarkets quickly ran out of bottled water, candles and canned meat.

Across Europe, it was a day for dread and contemplation. German churches stayed open through the night. Shoppers in Italy and France stormed supermarkets and gas stations, stocking up as if everything would change today.

Israel's air force commander said he expects Israeli warplanes will soon be drawn into a war with Iraq, and he warned Jordan's King Hussein to allow Israeli overflights of his territory or face the annihilation of his own air force.

The Palestine Liberation Organization blamed an Arab body guard who had worked the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal terrorist organization for the assassination Monday night of two top PLO operatives.

The financial cost to the United States of war with Iraq could total as much as that of the Vietnam War in its most expensive year, according to new government estimates and private defense experts.

At Fort Hood in Texas, sixth-graders were asked to draw what was on their minds this week. One drew a casket draped by an American flag. Another drew a funeral cortege. A third drew a body bag with Dad's name on it.