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From Suez to the Pacific
by Malcolm Pratt
08 March 2002 13:01 UTC
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Article from the UK Guardian.  Maybe of interest to WSN.

From Suez to the Pacific

US expands its presence across the globe

Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Friday March 8, 2002
The Guardian

Today, almost six months after the attacks on New York and Washington, the 
US is putting in place a network of forward bases stretching from the Middle 
East across the entire length of Asia, from the Red Sea to the Pacific.

US forces are active in the biggest array of countries since the second 
world war. Troops, sailors and airmen are now established in countries where 
they have never before had a presence. The aim is to provide platforms from 
which to launch attacks on any group perceived by George Bush to be a danger 
to the US.

Footage released by the Pentagon this week of US combat soldiers in the 
field in eastern Afghanistan graphically illustrated the extent to which the 
US has totally overcome its decade-long horror of putting troops on the 

Forward bases are rapidly multiplying. Washington announced at the weekend 
the establishment of yet another base in Central Asia, a region where before 
September 11 there was no US presence. The new base will be at Manas in 

Until recently, US troops in that country would have been unthinkable, both 
as a former part of the Soviet Union and also close to the Chinese border. 
The base will have 3,000 personnel - troops, communications specialists and 
technical support - and combat aircraft.

According to defence analysts, the intention is to have a host of such 
forward bases - manned by a few thousand troops and technicians all year 
round - that can provide support for huge reinforcements as required. These 
bases are being built in or near any country that Mr Bush decides 
constitutes "a clear and present danger".

Tim Garden, an associate fellow of the London-based Royal Institute of 
International Affairs, said yesterday: "Everyone was expecting, when the 
Bush administration came in, that it would see America draw into itself and 
concentrate on long-range capability and reducing its presence on the 

"Instead, they are looking at forward basing in lots of areas that may be of 
use to them for operations in the future."

The long and growing list of bases underlines the extent to which the US has 
shifted from the "Black Hawk Down" era, when the ugly scenes that 
accompanied the killing of US soldiers in Somalia in 1993 so scarred the 
American psyche that the then president, Bill Clinton, vowed never again to 
commit ground troops abroad if there was any chance of them sustaining 

In support of US forces fighting in Afghanistan, the US has established 
bases, each manned by 3,000 troops, in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. US troops 
are also stationed in Pakistan, close both to the Afghan and Iranian 

The US administration says publicly that it will leave the Central Asian 
bases after the "war on terrorism" is over but privately officials admit 
they are there to stay.

As well as bases, the US is sending in military advisers to a host of 
countries. In another move into the former Soviet empire, the US announced 
in the last week that it is to send to Georgia up to 200 advisers plus Huey 
helicopters to help battle elements of al-Qaida as well as Chechen rebels.

The US, in its hunt for al-Qaida fighters, has been patrolling the waters 
that encompass Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Within the last week, Saana, the 
Yemeni news agency, disclosed that the US is to send 100 military advisers 
to Yemen to help its republican guard take on tribal leaders alleged to be 
sympathetic to Osama bin Laden.

US special forces are be lieved to be in the Sudan working with opposition 
groups from Somalia, gathering information about possible al-Qaida 
supporters in Somalia.

In the Philippines, 660 US soldiers are helping to train and equip 3,800 
Filipino soldiers in the fight against Islamist rebels, the Abu Sayyaf 
group, in the mountainous island of Basilan.

Ivo Daadler, an international affairs specialist at the Brookings Institute 
in Washington, disputed that Mr Bush had ever been isolationist. He said Mr 
Bush was opposed only to the kind of humanitarian interventionism of the 
Clinton administration in places such as the Balkans, Haiti and Somalia, but 
not to intervention in what Mr Bush regarded as America's interest.

Like the cold war, he predicted the war will last for years, if not decades, 
and will be "all-consuming".

There will be further bases if Mr Bush resorts to force to implement the 
policy decision to remove the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. The build-up 
of US forces in the Middle East will dwarf the 50,000 US servicemen at 
present operating between the Red Sea and the Philippines.

Saudi Arabia, already keen to see the US pull out of its existing bases in 
the kingdom, is unlikely to allow the US to launch an attack on Iraq from 
its territory. Instead, the US will have to look elsewhere, to Kuwait and 

The bases

Afghanistan Combat role

Pakistan Bases

Uzbekistan Base

Tajikistan Base

Kyrgystan Base

Georgia Military advisers and base

Philippines Military advisers

Red Sea Naval patrols

Yemen Military advisers

Sudan Military advisers in preparation for action in Somalia

Saudi Arabia Base

Kuwait US will need to beef up presence if action is taken against Iraq

Turkey US will need big bases in the country if action is taken against Iraq

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