U.S. to Expand Military Presence in Bahrain

18.12.2013 Bahrain
U.S. to Expand Military Presence in Bahrain

U.S. to Expand Military Presence in Bahrain

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The United States is to double up its military presence in Bahrain, spending more than 580 million dollars, U.S. military's independent news source Stars and Stripes reported.

The U.S. 5th Fleet will increase the capacity of the existing facilities and is expanding to an adjacent 77-acre piece of land along the waterfront, Stars and Stripes reported.

Next month, a 400-foot-long tied-arch suspension bridge will be lifted into place to join the main base and the new base grounds.

The project will provide space for a vehicle maintenance facility, a warehouse, a dining facility and two barracks to house about 1,000 American sailors.

There are now nine active projects on the base, including a four-story administration building on the existing base set to be completed by 2015.

Washington’s expansion program comes as the Obama administration has been trying to show its allies in the region that its growing military presence in Asia does not mean neglecting the Middle East region.

During a visit to Bahrain earlier this month (photo), U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the United States would not abandon the region.

“Although the Department of Defense is facing serious budget constraints, we will continue to prioritize our commitments in the [Persian] Gulf, while making sure that our military capabilities evolve to meet new threats,” he said.

The new base area has been under development since 2010. Its peers are already home to the 5th Fleet’s minesweepers, coastal patrol ships and the USS Ponce, the Navy’s first afloat forward staging base.

Since 2008, the base population has more than doubled, from about 3,000 to 7,000 U.S. personnel. With roughly 80 acres of land on the main base, planners have been stretched to find real estate to meet the expanded unit requirements.

The U.S. Navy initially took over the base from the British Royal Navy in 1971. At the time, Britain was withdrawing from its bases east of the Suez Canal, leaving it to the United States to keep the peace in the volatile region. The base covered just 10 acres then.


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