Permanent U.S. bases in Iraq

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"From the start, in 2003, the first Army engineers rolling into Balad [Air Base in Iraq] took the long view, laying out a 10-year plan envisioning a move from tents to today's living quarters in air-conditioned trailers, to concrete-and-brick barracks by 2008," Charles J. Hanley wrote March 22, 2006, for the Associated Press.

Colonel Dan Smith, USA (Ret.) wrote in April 2006: "Over the last few months, the media have reported that the Pentagon is busy constructing what appear to be 'enduring' (i.e., permanent) bases in Iraq. A recent Associated Press story noted that in 2005-2006, one billion dollars had been requested or approved for building or improving bases in Iraq. The Supplemental Appropriations bill itself includes a request for $348 million for further base and other construction.

"Earlier stories spoke of the U.S. retaining possibly 14 bases of the 108 set up around the country. (Thirty-four of these 108 have been 'returned' to Iraqi control to date.) Of these 14, four locations as enduring bases have been specifically cited," (as written by Col. Smith):

  • Balad Air Base, some 40 miles north of Baghdad, where two million cubic feet of concrete has been laid for runways and parking aprons for C-5 and C-130 airplanes and for as many as 120 helicopters. Facilities will accommodate 25,000 troops in its 15 square miles;
  • Al Assad Air Base, 180 miles west of Baghdad and ten miles from the Syrian border. Covering 19 square miles, it is home to 17,000 U.S. military and civilians;
  • Ali Air Base at Tallil, between Baghdad and Basra, home to a new mess hall able to seat 6,000.
  • Al Qayyarah Air Base in the north near Mosul

"These four airbases would provide quick response capability for U.S. or U.S.-Iraqi operations. Make no mistake: as long as U.S. ground troops are in Iraq, whether as units or as embedded trainers/advisors, U.S. warplanes will be close by. And the converse is true: as long as U.S. warplanes are needed to support Iraqi counterinsurgency operations, even after all U.S. units have left the country, U.S. soldiers will have to be on the ground to direct bombing and strafing runs," Smith wrote.

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  • "Iraq Facilities," Note: "In January 2005 it was reported that the Pentagon was building a permanent military communications system in Iraq. The new Central Iraq Microwave System, is to consist of up to 12 communications towers throughout Iraq, along with fiber-optic cables connecting Camp Victory to other coalition bases in the country."
  • "If the U.S. is ultimately leaving Iraq, why is the military building 'permanent' bases?" Friends Committee on Federal Legislation, reviewed May 25, 2005; viewed May 26, 2006.