The United States has decided to withdraw from its "front-line" Persian Gulf position one of two huge rented barges used to support Special Operations Forces in the waterway, administration officials say.

The barge, which had been stationed in the northern gulf near an Iranian stronghold on Farsi Island, is gradually being withdrawn to an anchorage off Bahrain, said the officials, who spoke Wednesday on condition they not be named.The barge will remain "operational" for the time being, in part to reassure Arab allies in the region the United States is not withdrawing its forces precipitously, the sources said.

But the withdrawal is just one more indication the Pentagon is prepared to reduce its naval presence if the cease-fire between Iran and Iraq holds.