World

June 20, 2012

U.S. plans significant military presence in Kuwait

by Donna Cassata
Associated Press

The United States is planning a significant military presence of 13,500 troops in Kuwait to give it the flexibility to respond to sudden conflicts in the region as Iraq adjusts to the withdrawal of American combat forces and the world nervously eyes Iran, according to a congressional report.

The study by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee examined the U.S. relationship with the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – against a fast-moving backdrop. In just the last two days, Saudi Arabia’s ruler named Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz as the country’s new crown prince after last week’s death of Prince Nayef, and Kuwait’s government suspended parliament for a month over an internal political feud.

The latest developments inject even more uncertainty as the Middle East deals with the demands of the Arab Spring, the end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq at the end of 2011, fears of Iran’s nuclear program and the counterterrorism campaign.

“Home to more than half of the world’s oil reserves and over a third of its natural gas, the stability of the Persian Gulf is critical to the global economy,” the report said. “However, the region faces a myriad of political and security challenges, from the Iranian nuclear program to the threat of terrorism to the political crisis in Bahrain.”

The report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of the June 19 release provided precise numbers on U.S. forces in Kuwait, a presence that Pentagon officials have only acknowledged on condition of anonymity. Currently, there are about 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Buehring, giving the United States staging hubs, training ranges and locations to provide logistical support. The report said the number of troops is likely to drop to 13,500.

Several members of Congress, most notably Republican Sens. John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, had pressed for a residual U.S. force to remain in Iraq, but the failure of the two countries to agree on whether American troops should be granted legal immunity scuttled that idea. Instead, officials talked of positioning a strong U.S. force just across the border in Kuwait. The strategy preserves “lily pad” basing that allows the military to move quickly from one location to the next.

As it recalibrates its national security strategy, the United States is reducing forces in Europe while focusing on other regions, such as the Middle East and Asia. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said he envisions about 40,000 troops stationed in the Middle East region after the withdrawal from Iraq. By comparison, a cut of two Army combat brigades and the withdrawal of two other smaller units will leave about 68,000 troops in Europe.

During the 1991 Gulf War, some half a million U.S. forces were in the Middle East region. The United States maintained about 5,000 troops in Kuwait from the end of the Gulf War to March 2003, when U.S. and coalition forces invaded Iraq to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. The U.S.-led invasion was in response to reports, later discredited, that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat, who asked his staff to conduct the study, said in a statement: “This is a period of historic, but turbulent change in the Middle East. We need to be clear-eyed about what these interests are and how best to promote them. This report provides a thoughtful set of recommendations designed to do exactly that.”

The 37-page report raises questions about how the United States can use its financial aid to force change in the Middle East. Late last year, two Democrats – Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Jim McGovern – opposed the U.S. sale of spare parts and equipment to Bahrain, arguing that the ruling Sunni monarchy was violating human rights and using excessive force to crack down on protests. The State Department went ahead earlier this year with the sale of some military equipment, saying it was for Bahrain’s external defense and support for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is based in the country.

Bahrain stands as a strategic ally to counter Iran.

The report said the Unites States “should not be quick to rescind security assurances or assistance in response to human rights abuses but should evaluate each case on its own merits. U.S. government officials should use these tools to advance human rights through careful diplomacy. … The United States should make clear that states must not use arms procured from the United States against their own people engaged in peaceful assembly or exploit the U.S. security umbrella as protection for belligerent action against their neighbors.”

The report also recommended that the United States promote the development of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League while strengthening bilateral links to the six countries; seek opportunities for burden-sharing on operations such as missile defense, combat air patrol and maritime security; and push for the integration of Iraq into the Arab fold.

The report emphasized that the region is critical as a counterbalance to Iran, whose conventional military includes 350,000 ground forces, 1,800 tanks and more than 300 fighter aircraft. It also has ballistic missiles with the range to target regional allies, including Israel.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 28, 2015

News: Panel will propose new military retirement system - The long-awaited report on military compensation set to drop Thursday will propose fundamental changes to military retirement and health care benefits, according to several people familiar with the report. Source: DOD to request $585 billion for fiscal 2016 - The Department of Defense is preparing to submit a...
 
 

News Briefs January 28, 2015

Defense contractor to pay $2 million to settle claims A Northern California defense contractor will pay the federal government $2 million to settle claims about its manufacturing of parts for remote-controlled aircraft. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento says Sacramento-based Composite Engineering Inc. agreed to pay the money to end allegations that it artificially inflated...
 
 
Navy photograph

USS Roosevelt marks 200,000 trap

Navy photograph An F/A-18F Super Hornet flown by Capt. Daniel Grieco, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, complet...
 

 
Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned

USS California returns from maiden deployment

Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from its maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London. Under the command of Cmdr. Shawn Huey, Ca...
 
 
Army photograph

Army proves new watercraft capabilities

Army photograph Marine Corps assets are loaded onto the USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005), from an U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility, or LCU, USAV Port Hudson during port operations, at White Beach Naval Base, Jan. 22, 2015. Sold...
 
 

Orbital stockholders approve merger with ATK’s aerospace, defense groups

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced Jan. 27 that at a special meeting, the company’s stockholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposed merger with the Aerospace and Defense Groups of Alliant Techsystems Inc., pursuant to the definitive transaction agreement dated April 28, 2014. Approximately 99 percent of the votes cast at the special meeting voted in favor...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>