2003 June 15 Sunday
New US Military Basing Strategy Starts To Be Fleshed Out

The Washington Post reports on details of plans for a more flexible configuration of US military deployments and bases.

The United States would still maintain a ring of permanent military "hubs" on U.S. territory, such as Guam, and in closely allied countries, such as Britain and possibly Japan. But many of the major bases on which it had relied, such as those in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Germany and South Korea, will be replaced by dozens of spartan "forward operating bases" in southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia, maintained only by small, permanent support units, Hoehn and other defense officials said.

The US military is really configuring itself to deal with events that run thru an "arc of instability" that stretches from Muslim northern Africa thru the Muslim Middle East, Central Asia, and then into East Asia.

Lots of lightly manned bases near trouble spots will be the norm.

In some of these places, the U.S. might post a few dozen troops who would keep the base in good condition and maintain equipment for use by troops that occasionally arrive for training. In case of war, these forward bases could be used as launching pads for strikes elsewhere. Current bases in Romania, the Philippines or Kyrgyzstan might fall into this category.

Other bases will be far more austere. The U.S. might rotate through these facilities once every year or two for training or for attacking terrorists. Such bases might be in places such as Azerbaijan, Mali, Kenya or the Horn of Africa. The goal is to cut the time it takes the U.S. to respond with an air, ground and naval force from months to days or even hours.

The current distribution of US bases is obsolete in light of current threats.

Peter Singer is a defense analyst with the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Singer explained to RFE/RL the Pentagon's rationale: "We have a military basing structure right now that reflects Cold War priorities. And that's not in the best interests of U.S. national security; it certainly doesn't reflect any kind of grand strategy. And so it makes sense to shift some of these forces around, to move them into areas where there's greater need, to take them out of areas where there's local resistance, where they're unpopular, where they're not able to carry out their training."

One of the most curious aspects of the plan is the potential that bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan may be kept and even upgraded. The biggest disadvantage of those bases is that they are in very land-locked countries. There are many countries whose permission is needed in order to fly in or ship in supplies and personnel to those bases. Plus, they are corrupt and it is possible that resentment in their populaces toward US forces may build with time if the US military comes to be seen as protecting their regimes.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 15 02:18 AM  Politics Grand Strategy


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