Outposts of Empire

Outposts of Empire

The Pentagon’s new bases abroad.


The Defense Department has not yet selected all of the future locations for its new constellation of overseas facilities. But Pentagon officials are known to have visited a number of sites to assess their potential utility for this purpose, and both the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office have speculated on a number of others.

Eastern Europe: According to the CBO the Pentagon is interested in the establishment of three or more forward operat­ing locations in Eastern Europe. In Poland it is looking into the use of several facilities once occupied by Soviet forces. In Romania much attention has been paid to the air base at Mihail Kogalniceanu and the Black Sea port of Constanta. Both were used to ferry troops and equipment to Iraq, and Secretary Rumsfeld visited these facilities in October to weigh their future utilization by American forces.

Central Asia and the Caucasus: The Pentagon currently maintains two forward operating locations in this region: at Khanabad in southern Uzbekistan and at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. These bases are being used to support combat operations in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon has indicated that it plans to retain them for some time to come. In addition, the United States is refurbishing the former Soviet air base at Atyrau, on Kazakhstan’s Caspian Sea coast; the White House says this facility could be used by US and Kazakh troops for “joint training in the area of counter-terrorism.” The Defense Department is also considering the acquisition of a similar facility in Azerbaijan, which is now receiving US funds for the creation of its own Caspian Sea navy.

Persian Gulf: America’s elaborate basing infrastructure in the Gulf area will be expanded with the acquisition of permanent facilities in Iraq. More than a year ago, the Chicago Tribune revealed that US military engineers are busy construct­ing fourteen “enduring bases” for American forces in Iraq. These facilities are said to include an assortment of former Iraqi army bases; the airports at Baghdad and Mosul will also be expanded to house US military aircraft. Elsewhere in the region, the Pentagon will retain its facilities in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The large air base at Al-Udeid in Qatar is being expanded to house the US personnel once stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Africa: The Pentagon has already established two forward operating locations in North Africa: At Tamanrasset Airport in southern Algeria and at Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion post in Djibouti. It is also looking at possible sites for “bare bones” facilities in several countries south of the Sahara, including Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda, as well as São Tomé and Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea.

Asia and the Pacific: Under plans announced by President Bush last August, the Pentagon will redeploy about 12,500 combat troops from South Korea to Iraq and shift the remaining US forces in South Korea from Seoul and its environs to less congested areas farther south. The first step was taken to enhance security in Iraq’s beleaguered cities, and the second to reduce US forces’ vulnerability to North Korea’s long-range artillery and to afford greater maneuverability in the event of a war. Elsewhere in the region, the Pentagon is considering the establishment of bases in Australia and the eventual return of US forces to their former installations in the Philippines, from which they were expelled in 1991.

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