U.S. PLANS SIGNIFICANT MILITARY PRESENCE IN KUWEIT

Washington Times on June 19, 2012, published an AP report on the United States 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. Excerpts below:

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 past two days, Saudi Arabia’s ruler named Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, the Saudi defense minister, as the country’s new crown prince after last week’s death of Prince Nayef, and Kuwait‘s government suspended parliament meetings for a month over an internal political feud.

The report, obtained by the Associated Press in advance of Tuesday’s release, provided precise numbers on U.S. forces in Kuwait, a presence that Pentagon officials have acknowledged only 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 of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, 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 drawing down forces in Europe while focusing on other regions, such as the Middle East and Asia. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said he envisions about 40,000 troops stationed in the Middle East 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.

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.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: